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While the market for WordPress website templates is expanding rapidly, the availability of good blog specific templates it seems is not. I spent a couple of hours looking through themeforest this morning and only found one that you could say is optimised for today’s content marketing world.

Of course there are a lot of blog designs available as part of a website theme – every WordPress website has one now, but a blog should be treated differently to the rest of the website. It has a different purpose to other pages and in content marketing terms – it’s your chief pitcher, your number 9, your engagement hub, your lead generator. Blogs therefore need a different design approach.

1. A WordPress platform

You could debate whether using a WordPress platform is strictly a ‘design element’ but what people don’t tend to debate is that WordPress is the best platform for a blog. Excellent for SEO, hugely flexible functionality, open source (free) loads of support and tips online, customisable and crucially for this blog – a HUGE number of blog templates for website designers to adapt.

2. Theme security

Having just been through a mini hack-tastophe, the security of themes is on my radar at the moment and is worth considering carefully. Themes can have coding holes that hackers will exploit so buying one from a reputable theme site or business is important. WooCommerce for example makes a point of checking their codes are secure. The Divi theme too I understand is highly rated for security by online protection firm, Securi.

3. Fast load times

If your blog takes more than 5 seconds to load, the average reader will not hang around to read it. Blogs don’t need to be function or plugin heavy (which would slow down the load time) –  the lighter the design elements the better for a blog.

4. Responsiveness

Blogs need to be readable and navigable on a phone sized screen. It should therefore be a responsive design. Simple as that, as 40% of your readers will see it that way.

5. Navigation & calls to action

It’s important to think through the journey you’d like your visitor to take on your blog. Clear signposting and calls to action at the bottom of the blog posts (and on the sidebar) mean you’re taking the visitor by the hand and leading them somewhere (hopefully into a sales funnel).

6. Prominent share buttons

Putting share buttons at the top and bottom of blog posts is important for two reasons. It makes it easy to share them of course, but also it gives articles social credibility, which creates a snowball effect.

7. Large photography

Every blog should have space for large, relevant, high quality photography at the beginning of each post and if it’s a long article, more images in the course of the text.

8. A sidebar

A blog needs a sidebar. This is the right place to put your prominent calls to action – Newsletter sign-ups, eBook downloads, Facebook sign-ups. It’s also the right place to put search boxes, categories, most popular posts and any visitor metrics you may want to display.

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