Blogging has been around for a few decades now. Throughout these decades, we changed the way we interact with blogging and blog websites on multiple occasions. Some blog features that existed in 2000s aren’t used today and some blog features that you see today weren’t possible back in those days.
But the real question is, “Are we using the right elements or features on our blog?“
Considering the fact that most blogs today have a lot of elements that readers rarely pay any attention to, it is time to figure out which features you must and which features you should do away with in your blog.
Removing unnecessary features from your blogs and including only the most important and relevant ones will definitely help you build a better readership in the long run.
In this article, I have listed down some of the most important blog features that you must have on your blog websites. With that, I have also include a bunch of features that you should terminate ASAP!
Without any further delay, let’s dive in.
Minimal Design is one of the essential blog features that people ignore.
Gone are the days when you inserted 5000 images and widgets on a single webpage and people would fall in love with the design.
If you pay a closer look around you, it will become obvious to you that most of the premium brands are moving towards simplicity. From their logos to their websites, everything is simple and elegant.
Most of the established blogs today also follow this approach and focus on putting the best content out there instead of populating their webpage with junk.
1. Don’t use too many colors.
Too many colors will make your readers uncomfortable. An in-depth article by The Flux Academy reveals what you must do when selecting colors for your website.
As a rule of thumb, don’t use more than 4 colors in a single page. I don’t use more than 3 colors for logos.
You only need three colors:
- Link Color: Blue or any other color that you use in your logo or brand identity.
- Button background color: Similar to your link color.
- Hover colors: A darker or lighter shade of your accent color.
The font color of your website should always be black and the background of any content area where your blog post is outputted should always be white. This will create the contrast that most readers are used to.
2. Avoid including too much information on a single page.
Nobody goes through your whole website. This translates to the fact that they don’t read most of the stuff that you have on your website.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Did I even check out all the links on the sidebar widget area?
- Have I ever noticed what other bloggers have on their footer area?
NO, you haven’t.
If you are running a blog, the only reason as to why people visit your blog is to read articles. So, you should focus on listing some articles that they might be interested in.
3. The focus should be on the actual content. Remove all distractions.
I don’t believe that you need a sidebar to become a great blog portal. If your content is offering the solution that they are searching for, you don’t need banners, archive lists and search box inside your sidebar area.
If you want them for the sake of vanity, that’s a different story.
Having too many things in the content area will overwhelm the reader and they will get distracted easily. For any affiliate marketing website, having undivided attention of the reader is vital for revenue generation.
Since I use affiliate links to generate revenue, I don’t insert too many elements inside my blog’s sidebar area.
4. Don’t include vivid images, or unnecessary information such as blog archives, comments lists, and more in your sidebar.
At this point, it’s quite funny to see people include multiple images of random stuff that are not related to anything mentioned in the blog post.
As mentioned earlier, these images will distract your readers and they might not click on any links that will help you generate some revenue. Same thing goes for blog archives, comments lists and even the search box.
Avoid using popups for email marketing.
If there’s one blog elements that irritates me the most, it would be popup windows. Popup boxes are intrusive and they block the content. Unless a user closes popup manually, it stays their blocking the viewing area.
You use your content as a bait to trap a reader for your email lists. This is wrong.
If your blog post is good enough, people will sign up for your newsletters no matter what.
5. Popups are old and annoying.
Some ancient marketing techniques still work, Popups aren’t one of them. Internet users today are immune to these Popup boxes and most of the users consider popups to be an annoying roadblocks that disrupts their reading experience.
That’s the reason why popups are considered one of the worst blog features out there.
6. Instead of popups, focus on letting the user choose whether they want to sign up.
Popups don’t offer any value to the reader. Literally, it is a tool that marketers use to sell to their readership.
There are other ethical ways of doing this such as using a “Subscribe Button“ that opens a popup windows that lets people sign up for your newsletter.
7. Respect the privacy of your readers and don’t send spam just because they signed up for your newsletters.
Most people try tricking a user into giving away their email address.
After a user signs up, they start sending countless emails with affiliate deals and whatnots.
This strategy does more harm than good. You barely make any money and email clients will start flagging your marketing emails as “Spam”.
I have noticed that newsletter emails that are off-topic rarely gets optimum open-rates.
Focus on the quality of the content instead of the word count.
Content is the king and that’s the reason why people visit your blog. So, don’t worry about SEO, design and too many technical things.
Focus on the content and the quality of the information provided. If your content doesn’t pack a punch, people will never visit again no matter what fancy SEO strategy you follow to attract them.
8. Pay attention to the SEO of your articles, but focus on the quality of the content first.
SEO is important but you don’t have to pay extreme attention to it.
I have seen many blogs with minimal SEO optimization do pretty well on Google just because they have the information that a Google searcher needs.
Here’s a few SEO Tips that you should follow for better rankings:
- Have your keyword in your title.
- Have multiple headings and some with your target keywords.
- Link out to reputed resources relevant to your blog post.
- Insert a few images to illustrate a few points in your blog post.
- Avoid publishing short pieces of content unless they are tutorials.
9. Remove all the fluff before posting.
Just because you read somewhere that articles with more than 2000 words rank higher on Google, it doesn’t mean that you force yourself to publish article with such length.
Not many tutorial article will have that many words and people expect you to get straight to the point instead of beating around the bush with every minor detail.
If your blog post is able to satisfy the intent of a Google searcher with just 1200 words, Google will rank your website. You don’t need to pack 800 more words for the sake of it.
This might perhaps be one of the most important blog features in the list as it impacts the growth of your blog.
10. Satisfying the search intent of your readers will improve your search rankings.
Satifying the search intent of a search engine user is not that hard. All you need to do is understand what they are looking for.
For example; Let’s say that someone is searching with the term, “Best Cycle for Fitness riding“.
A few things are obvious here:
- The searcher is looking for a list of cycles.
- Cycle for fitness.
- Fitness riding experience.
What they don’t want:
- To complete cycling events.
- To tour on cycle.
- Become a full-time cyclist.
So, there’s no point in explaining the mechanism of gear shifting and similar technical stuff to them.
Your answer should just list out the best cycles for fitness. That’s it.
Include only the most important links on your navigation menu.
The primary navigation menu or the header navigation is the most important section of your website.
This is where users naturally floak to when they want to visit a certain page on your website.
So, having useless links is pure wastage of such precious real-estate.
11. Remove any navigation links that people are unlikely to click.
You should insert links that will eventually transform the journey of a typical website visitor.
When someone visits your website, they should be able to land on a page that will convert them into a frequent visitor.
For me, these pages are:
- Blog archives
- Hire me
- Become a member
If they want to visit the homepage, they can click on the logo.
12. A blog should share trending topics or important blog topics in the navigation menu.
If your blog is purely content based, you should invest some money into designing a dynamic navigation menu that will automatically switch navigation links depending on the trending topic on the blog.
With this type of navigation menu, you offer the users a set of links that will direct them to the most popular or important content on the website.
Most news portal today use dynamic navigation menus instead of a static one.
13. Same goes for the Footer section of your blog website.
Footer section can have almost all types of links but you should avoid inserting content such as latest blog posts, achieve lists and search boxes inside a footer.
You can have your site links and website credit section inside the footer area. There’s no point in inserting latest articles in the footer.
Have some social media icons.
Many think social media is dead and the ones that are still alive won’t let their users get off the platform. That’s true to some extent but if you play your cards right, you could easily drive some traffic from social media to your website.
Today, you don’t necessarily need traffic from social media. An established presence on social media help build credibility and reputation online.
Furthermore, there are some social media platforms such as Pinterest that’ll let you drive traffic to your website without penalizing you in any way. In fact, there are 6-figure bloggers who run their entire business with the help of traffic from Pinterest.
14. Social media is still relevant for many blogging topics.
Although I don’t use social media on my blogs, there are some blog topics that will do really well on social media. For example, if you are running a fashion blog or a celebrity gossip blog, it will do remarkably well on traditional social media such as Facebook as well as Instagram and YouTube.
So, don’t discount social media by classifying every social media platform irrelevant.
15. Include your social media profiles link in the navigation menu.
If your blog falls under any topic that could really do well on social media, it is vital have an option that’ll enable the users to share the post with their friends and followers on social media.
Today, there are hundreds of WordPress plugins that you can easily install without spending any money. These plugins are more than enough to show a few social media sharing and follow icons on the website.
Here are the ones that I prefer:
- Social Media Share Buttons & Social Sharing Icons
- Blog2Social: Social Media Auto Post & Scheduler
- Simple Social Media Share Buttons
16. Have a couple of relevant social media sharing icons before or after your blog post. The latter makes more sense.
Now that you have a plugin to enable social media sharing on your blog, where do you actually put these sharing icons?
The best place — according to me — would be at the end of each blog post.
Think about it? Why would anyone want to share an article before reading it? So, placing social sharing buttons before the featured image doesn’t make that much sense.
A better position would be a floating sticky sidebar social icons section that stay at a place even when user scrolls down the page.
17. Include social media sharing icons and follow icons in any downloadable you offer.
Have any blog post converted into downloadable freebie? Placing your social media follow buttons will help increase your social media following.
In order to enable these social media buttons inside a PDF, all you have to do is include the logo images of the social media platform and link it to your social media profile.
Have featured images.
A thumbnail will help you spread the essence of your blog post quickly as people look at the images first and then read titles or the content. If you don’t have any featured images, it will look odd and some interested readers might skip the article altogether.
18. Features images help boost your SEO score.
In many programming related tutorials, it is common to not have any image. The rule of SEO says that you need at least one image inside your blog post for better search engine ranking. There’s a lot of evidence behind the same.
Having a featured image with just the blog title and a nice background will help you score better on Google search results.
Uploading featured images for all the blog posts will keep your blog seem uniform. So, upload featured images before publishing any blog post.
19. People scan blog posts, an image can help them find the right blog post from the archives.
According to Shareaholic, a featured image helps you in informing a user as to what a particular blog post is all about.
In this social media era, it is difficult to retain the attention of a typic internet user.
Having a simple featured image on your blog post will help you in grabbing some attention. Any user who’s scanning for content will immediately understand the summary of the blog post without reading the actual blog title.
20. Some search engines also show featured images, and social media sharing requires a featured image.
Almost all social media platforms show images alongside the actual blog title and summary.
If your blog post doesn’t have a featured image, it will show a gray placeholder which looks really odd and suspicious.
Not to mention that people on social media look and images or videos instead of reading titles and captions. So, having a featured image increases your CTR on social media as well as on Google image search results.
Consistent design language throughout the blog website.
Gone are the days when you’d have a total monthly visitor widget, total articles widget, Alexa score widget and few hundred others elements on your blog.
Bloggers have realized that it’s pointless and adds no value to the blog or to the lives of the reader. Furthermore, these widgets slow down the webpage significantly.
These two reasons are enough to get rid of all such widgets but if you are still looking for a third reason, it would be the overall design of the website.
In the first section of this article, I had mentioned that you must have a simple and minimal design on your blog or else people will easily get distracted and switch to other blogs.
Enforcing a standard design language across all of your blog posts also removes all the distractions and gives a uniform appearance to your website.
21. Don’t make every blog post look unique.
Nothing wrong with adding a few touches of beauty to your blog posts. Adding a few elements to enhance the look of your blog post and changing the entire look and feel of your blog post are two different things.
Remember, if you are a blogger, your primary goal should me to publish articles on interesting topics instead of spending most of time your designing blog posts.
To some extent people care about the design but after that they don’t bother. All they want is an answer to a particular question.
Plus, making each blog posts unique will slow down the page load speed of the blog post because every resource is unique and needs to be downloaded when the user visits.
22. Inconsistent design will irritate the users.
If you have regular readers and visitors, they will get confused when they see a brand new design for a single blog post.
They are used to navigating your website in a certain way and continuously seeing new design with every blog post will definitely irritate them. Change is hard to accept and
23. Having too many styles will slow down your server and/or use too many server resources.
Most bloggers go overboard when designing their blog posts. Specially, when publishing an important article, they take Brian Dean‘s suggestion too seriously.
They add fancy boxes, titles, sections, multiple images, divider and more to a single page.
In WordPress when to want to achieve such level of customization, you install multiple plugins.
Plugins are awesome but installing too many of them will lead to backend issues and slower page load times.
Again, your job as a blogger is to publish content. Designing, marketing and influencers are secondary goals.
Engage your readers and compel them to drop comments.
The difference between an info site and a blog is simple; on a blog website, you interact with the blogger and form a bond with likeminded people. It is also a place where a blogger can express their personal opinion about a topic and spread the word.
So, community building naturally becomes a strong part of running a blog.
Creating engaging and thought provoking content that compels users into dropping their opinions on your blog posts is the easiest way to get started with community building.
24. Write conversational blog posts in an informal tone.
A blog content should always remain informal piece of content. Whenever writing a blog content, you should always write as if your are explaining things to a friend.
Following this simple strategy itself will make your content seem more engaging and welcoming.
25. Ask questions and compel them to drop answers in your comment section.
You can also ask questions related to a blog post to your readers. For example, let’s say that you are writing a blog post on “social media marketing“.
You can ask your readers about their favorite marketing strategy when promoting an affiliate product or something similar.
26. User interaction is the key to a loyal readership.
It’s obvious that a loyal readership is vital to your blog’s growth. To build a loyal readership, you need a comment section with some activity.
If you look at Brian Dean’s blog comment section, you will see that he replies to almost every single comment left on his blog posts.
The same thing can be noticed with Neil Patel’s blog posts as well.
if you reply to comments, you make it clear that you care about reader feedback and contribution. This helps create a bond between you and the user who’s dropping a comment.
Conclusion: Must have blog features to transform your blogging journey.
As you might have noticed that I haven’t included any fancy widget or WordPress plugin in this list. There’s a reason behind it.
In the era of minimal design, less is more.
In this article, I listed every single feature that a WordPress website must have. Having these features will enhance the user-experience of your blog and encourage participation from readers and new visitors.
You can also scroll back to see the table of content to find a compact list of all the features if you don’t have the time to read the entire article.