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While the old adage may caution you to judge a book by its content not its cover, it’s no secret that your first impressions of any book, product, or person are based on appearances. You can’t help it. None of us can.
You’re constantly being bombarded with new information, and it’s your overburdened brain’s’ job to judge whether it’s even worth knowing to begin with. Visual cues are the brain’s secret weapon in making short work of this need for constant assessment.
What does your brain look for when determining whether a food blog will be worth reading? Design elements. Not only will a thoughtfully designed food blog be easier for readers to navigate and read, effective design also speeds up a site and aligns it with SEO best practices.
If your food blog was a restaurant, what kind would it be? A classy, sophisticated bistro or a wild and raucous Chuck E. Cheese-style phenomenon? A cozy, home cooking place or a fast food drive-up?
Whatever your style, it should be clean. It only takes one stray bug popping out of bowl of gumbo to send a diner packing. Likewise, if visitors to your site are immediately assaulted by annoying pop-up ads, they may decide to get their recipes elsewhere.
Similarly, a gaudy restaurant with flashing-lights decor might be fun for a novel night out, but if it’s too distracting, it’s unlikely to build a regular customer base. This is especially true for blogs. Not only will an overly-decorated blog prove distract readers from the content they came for, it can also slow down your sight, which will drive away readers. Instead, use white space to give your readers’ eyes places to rest and to ensure that the most important messages get top billing.
One way to slow down your site is by using large, raw images. Format your gorgeous photographs to the actual size that you need for your site to prevent unnecessary load lagging, and be sure to add title tags, alt tags, and captions with targeted keywords. Improving SEO and usability for readers with disabilities will keep your blog at the top of the search engine where readers can find it easily.
People respond better to smaller chunks of information. Use headers throughout your post design to make it easier for readers to digest and to clarify the most important points of the post. Headers allow readers to quickly skim your content so that they know what they’re getting into up front.
As a bonus, when you include targeted keywords in header tags, you’re automatically boosting your SEO and discoverability. Google’s search bots are programmed to skim for keywords in H1, H2 and H3 tags, making headers desirable for both human and robotic readers.