Over the past several weeks, I have noticed a trend of minimalism when it comes to blog design and blogging. Some of my favorite bloggers have removed sidebars from their designs (still on the fence about this one, but still so inspired by the vision No Sidebar!) and many have reduced advertisements on their blogs or removed blog sponsorship packages. I think these are all good things, because I think bloggers are getting smarter about producing quality content for their readers and making sure they are focusing on the things that truly matter for their blogs.
It’s also the start of the autumn, which means a season of organizing, decluttering and preparing for the rest of the year. This time of organization also applies to our online space, blogger babes. Today I have 11 things to remove from your blog so you can maximize your blog vision and purpose. And once you’re done reading about the things your blog shouldn’t have, check out these 10 Website Essentials you can check off for your blogs!
Breadcrumbs are a navigation tool for websites that help visitors see which page or category they are viewing, but a lot of times they are unnecessary. An example of a breadcrumbs trail is:
In many cases, readers come to blogs and navigate around the site by clicking on links within the post, on category drop-down menus or related posts. While breadcrumbs can be helpful, they often add clutter to the beginning of your post, instead of drawing the reader into your latest content.
2. Images & Content Borrowed from Others
This is a really tricky one, as it is possible to use images that you borrow from others and link back to their blog or website. In this case, you should always ask permission before you do so. There are so many copyright laws and issues that can arise in today’s digital world, that it is best to be on the safe side. There have been cases of legal action in the blogging world and some sticky situations I know some bloggers have experienced.
To avoid this, my go-to rule for images is to use either 100% commercial-free (use for anything) images or produce my own photos. Another option is to buy stock photos online, which I’ve done a couple times.
For a great resource, check out Jessica’s list of epic websites for free stock images!
Related Post: 6 Secrets for Stellar Blog Graphics
3. Pageview Counts
These are unnecessary, and often not needed for your viewers. With great analytics tools out there (Google Analytics should be your BFF!), pageview counts on your sidebar often clutter your design and don’t add any useful content for your readers.
[bctt tweet=”Maximize the impact of your blog + declutter your website today with these tips! “]
4. Music or Videos that Autostart
I’ve noticed auto-playing music on Tumblr blogs more so than on WordPress, Blogger or Squarespace, but it is still an important rule to have: no auto-playing audio. It can interfere with any Spotify playlists or radio music they may be listening to. Or sound may not be appropriate for the space where your reader is, like a library, coffee shop or work. Always be thinking ahead to make sure you give your readers a quality experience as they visit your site.
5. Traffic Feeds
Traffic feeds can be another item that clogs up sidebars. While it may be interesting viewing seeing your visitors’ cities and knowing how often people come to your blog, this information can be calculated in analytics tools. Also, traffic feeds provide no useful information to your reader, and you may be able to use that space to provide your reader with more content that is relevant for them.
6. Distracting Ads
Lessening the amount of advertisements on blogs has been a recent trend. While I do not believe all advertisements are “bad,” having too many can be hurtful for your blog. Plus, they may not be the best monetization strategy for some bloggers, since they are often unpredictable. Sarah shares many ways to generate passive income for your blog or business, and Caitlin has shared why she decided to remove ads as well.
If you have ads on your blog, consider why you have them, how much money they generate and if they are related to your brand. Could you use the ad space to give more valuable content for your readers? Could you make viewing your blog a better experience without ads? Ask these questions and determine if you want to downsize the ads on your site.
[bctt tweet=”It’s always good to clean and declutter your online space—your blog included! “]
7. Badges or Awards
When I started blogging 5 years ago, I thought that the blog awards circling online were so cool. I remember “The Sunshine Award” and “The Versatile Blogger” awards. And of course we have very popular ones like the “Liebster Award” and “Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award.” These are fun ways to connect with the blogging community, and I think it’s fine to blog about these awards and tag others to do the same. However, do not place all the buttons on your sidebar, as it can be a bit overwhelming and they don’t lead your reader to any new content or pages on your site. If you would like to display them, consider making a new page for awards or not displaying them altogether.
If you would like to display badges that show your credibility in the blogging community, display network badges or community buttons on your blog, perhaps in the footer or on a small place in your sidebar. These include ad networks or blogging communities you join.
8. Extra White Space
Want to know a secret? The first time I dabbled in CSS was back in the early days of my Blogger blog to figure out how to push elements in my sidebar closer together. I didn’t even know what CSS was back then. But I learned how to adjust the margins of images and buttons in order to make like elements align closer together. If you have extra white space in your blog design, consider adjusting the margins on those elements for a cleaner design.
9. Long Labels/Category Lists
Some blogs contain long lists of their categories, tags or labels they used on their blogs. If these are in a huge list or word cloud on your sidebar, consider downsizing to 4-8 categories. Not only does this help your reader navigate through posts they enjoy, it helps you stay focused on your niche and purpose for your blog. Win, win!
10. Dead Links
The 404 message isn’t our friends, peeps. Make sure none of your links on your blog go to error pages. This can be easily checked on WordPress through the Broken Link Checker plugin. I recently used this on my blog to make sure I didn’t have links that led nowhere.
11. Unused Plugins & Themes
After I downloaded the Broken Link Checker to test my links on my blog, I then went to delete it, since I knew I wouldn’t be using it too much in the near future. It’s always a good plan to go through your plugins and your themes to see which ones you are using and which can be deleted. This helps lesson the server load and improves the quality and performance of WordPress for you.
What do you think we should remove from our blogs? Do you think there is anything unnecessary that bloggers tend to include on their sites? How do you feel about this “less is more” approach to blogging and blog design? I would love to hear your feedback as we all work hard to improve our blogs this season!
P.S. Don’t forget to check out 10 Website Essentials for Your Blog or Business to keep your blog extra healthy!