When you’re getting ready to leave your house to head to work or run errands, you more than likely take a look at yourself in the mirror and decide whether or not you look presentable. You want the people you’ll be interacting with to give you the time of day, right?
If you dressed like a complete slob, didn’t bother to fix your hair, and generally appeared unkempt, it doesn’t matter how nice of a person you are. If you don’t look like a decent human being, people who don’t know you aren’t going to hold you in high regard.
On the other hand, you might be the type of person who wears their personality on their sleeve – literally. When you go out in public, you want everyone to know what kind of person you are: artistic, athletic, theatrical, serious, fun-loving…the list goes on. Even if you don’t plan on engaging in conversation with everyone you come across throughout your day, you still want to stick out in everyone’s mind.
If you want people to check out – and stay on – your blog, it needs to be more like this last person, and less like the one in the first example.
Like the clothes on your back, your blog is a virtual extension of everything that makes you you. Your audience should be able to tell a lot about who you are as a person just by glancing at your blog and its theme.
Since you’re already here, take a look at my blog’s theme. I bet you can tell exactly what kind of person I am just by taking a quick glance at your screen. Neat. No frills. What-you-see-is-what-you-get. I don’t hide behind flash, or make myself out to be something I’m not. I let my blog’s content speak for itself.
Yes, my blog’s theme is pretty simple, but don’t overlook the functionality of such a simple design. The focus of my blog is entirely on my writing (hence the title and tagline). You can view my previous entries through a few different methods (latest entry, month of entry, or tag). My contact information is readily available at the click of a button so potential clients don’t have to wade through a ton of extraneous content to get where they need to be. The simplicity of my blog’s theme acts as an open invitation for anyone looking to join the community I’ve begun creating through my content.
Make It Mine
Just because you choose a specific theme doesn’t mean you can’t customize it to your liking. While there’s no harm in using a baseline theme created by a third party, you can (and should) customize the overall makeup of your blog to your own liking. As I said with my blog, I’ve arranged the sidebar so visitors can get to any page on my entire blog within seconds. Sure, I’d like them to explore and click around a bit, but I also want my readers to get where they want to be on my blog immediately and directly.
All blog owners should immediately become familiar with widgets. There are plenty of widgets available that suit the needs of variety of bloggers. Whether you use the free ones supplied by WordPress, purchasable widgets, or even customizable WYSIWYG widgets, you want to make sure each widget offers something of value to your audience or yourself as a blogger.
In other words: Don’t go widget-crazy. If the only thing you post on Twitter are links back to your blog (a big no-no, anyway), don’t include a widget that shows your Twitter feed on your sidebar. Don’t include a registration form for your newsletter if you…don’t have a newsletter. Unless you’ve experienced a sudden surge in traffic, don’t include a visitor counter.
Simply put: If a widget doesn’t add anything to your blog other than the fact that it takes up space, get rid of it. Sometimes less is better – especially when “more” really just means “more clutter.”
People hate change, don’t they?
Everyone complains whenever a new version of Windows comes out, an update to iOS changes some small part of their iPhone’s interface, or Facebook undergoes some massive overhaul.
But we get used to it. As long as a product or service offers the same (or better) value after a change, its core audience will stick around.
Just because you picked a theme as you were just getting started with your blog doesn’t mean you need to stick with that one forever.
But don’t just change for the sake of change. Do it purposefully and methodically.
Are you changing the scope of your blog? Does another theme better suit your purposes as a blogger? Are you rebranding your entire image?
You also don’t want your change to be entirely superficial. If you’re changing your blog’s theme “just because,” dig a little deeper and get to the heart of why you want to make the change. With a change in theme may come a slight change in content, so be sure to analyze all the angles before you give your blog a facelift. People hate change, and they especially hate change when it doesn’t really make a difference in the content or value of a product.
I know there are a lot of other things to consider when choosing a theme for your blog. But, as I said, I’m a minimalist, so aesthetics aren’t really my forte. Let me know of anything I missed. I could do well to learn a thing or two!