If you’ve just purchased your domain, purchased hosting, have installed WordPress, uploaded your favorite feminine wordpress theme (Harmless plug!) and are ready to get things customized to your liking and looking just right, this post is for you.
Here are 10 common WordPress blog design mistakes that I see beginners (And even seasoned) WordPress bloggers make that really have become a pet peeve of mine and should be avoided if you want your site to look professional.
1. Comment Forms on EVERY PAGE
If I had to choose a cardinal WordPress sin, I think this would be it. By default, WordPress is intended to be a blogging platform so the Comments / Pingbacks box shows up on every page. But do people really want to leave a comment on, say, your contact form page?
“Dude, sweet contact form!”
“OMG! I just LOVE this contact form”
Umm…Not exactly. Let’s keep the comments on blog posts where they belong.
Here’s how to quickly remove the comments from your pages by bulk editing them.
And for my blogging friends using blogger, here’s how to remove the comment form from your pages:
2. Sidebar Clutter
Your sidebar is a great place to feature your most popular posts, and call to action buttons. Ask yourself what you really want your users on your site to do. Subscribe to your newsletter? Follow your Pinterest boards? Browse your shop? Whatever action you want your site visitors to take should prominently display at the top of your sidebar.
*Sidenote: I know you’re trying to monetize your blog with ads… but please use them as sparingly as possible. Overusing ads can really turn users off to your site and increase your bounce rate.
*Second Sidenote: If you have a ton of badges you want to display, narrow it down. You don’t have to cram them all into your sidebar. Focus on what is important and necessary to display.
3. Font Overkill
I know. It’s so hard to hold back on your font choices when there are So. Many. Good free ones to choose from. And especially when you can upload your own custom fonts like our themes allow. But do yourself and others a huge favor and stick to 2-3 fonts at a maximum used in your site text. Why? Because it is VERY easy to go overboard and create a cluttered looking site. Certainly you can incorporate images with some varying fonts, but if you want your site to look professional, you really need to reign in the number of fonts you use. Oh, and while you’re at it… find some Google font pairs that look good together!
4. Header Graphics Overkill
Less is more. Like choosing too many fonts, going overboard with graphics, colors, and design elements can be a big detraction from your site’s actual focus and content. This is a true sign of a newbie blogger. Just because you find some great free clip art resources, fonts, and photoshop brushes… hold back! Choose one or two simple elements that represent your brand to use in your header. Then, let your content sing off the page. Use those extra free graphics you fall in love with for your blog post images. *Note, I could link and insert some pretty
good bad examples here, but I don’t want to make any internet enemies. :)
5. Visual Heirarchy
If anything is important for your blog posts and pages, it is this! Let your reader follow the flow of your text naturally by using your header tags (H1, H2, H3, etc) from within your WordPress text editor. (Bonus: This is really good for SEO). Make lists when appropriate. Bold, underline, and italicize things so that there is a natural flow for your readers. Use divider lines.
6. Plugin Smorgasbord
Again less is more! The more plugins you install in WordPress, the more chances there are that something will conflict, causing code bugs, and things to fail to work as expected. I have helped countless of our cute WordPress theme users who have something go awry only to find a silly plugin causing an issue. Take a look at our recommended and favorite plugins for WordPress here. Oh, and sometimes installing too many of the wrong kinds of plugins can cause your site to load slowly. Which reminds me…
7. Uploading Too Large Image Sizes
I have seen too many photographers and bloggers who think that the bigger the image they upload, the better. Not true! In general, you want to upload an image that will fill your content area… no larger. Large images cause your site to load slowly. A slow loading site means your visitors will bounce away and never come back. Sad day! Upload images that are just the right size. And if you want a plugin that will automatically squash huge files upon upload, see this one!
This one’s pretty straightforward. Use fonts and font sizes that are optimal for readability. Choose colors that can be easily seen on a variety of monitors. (Tip! Go to Best Buy and pull up your website on a bunch of different computers. You may be surprised at how various colors are rendered on different viewing devices!) The debate is still waging as to whether sans-serif or serif fonts are the way to go for readability body texts. Be mindful of the fact that some of your users will be viewing on mobile devices as well. The key here is to really test how your site looks.
9. Images That Don’t Fit The Post Area
This is probably the second most common WordPress Blog Mistake and maybe you don’t even think it’s a mistake. You upload pictures that are too small to fit your post content area. Or, your pictures are all different widths which creates a pretty inconsistent look.
In my opinion, this can make things look untidy really quickly. The solution? Make sure you’re uploading images that are wide enough to fill your posting area. The width of your posting area will vary depending on the blog theme you’re using (*Hint, our themes let you set the content width to whatever you like.) If you have images you want to incorporate, use an image editing software like PicMonkey or Photoshop to create collages of images if you want to use several that are too small. Or, use a mosaic image gallery in a post. (Our themes come with these built in galleries!) *Also, I realize that many folks are now inserting narrow images because they are better suited for pinning. Why not put a couple of those bad boys side by side to fit your content area?*
*Ahem, yes I realize I am using a page from my very own site to illustrate something you should try to avoid doing on your own site. This is a super old post whose images were designed 2-3 blog design revisions ago. Still, if this was my #1 popular post, I really should go back and edit it.
So, what about you? Do you have any blog design pet peeves? Cardinal sins that drive you bonkers when perusing the internet? Share ’em below!