the blog critique | 08 | The Native New Yawker

The Blog Critique #08: Designing A Brand For Your Audience

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It’s Thursday and The Blog Critique is back.

Never mind the brief two week hiatus. You all have lives.. you know how things can get.

Our last design critique I had critiqued Heather and her lifestyle blog She loved the critique so much, I even helped her touch up her blog with some simple graphics. If you haven’t already, go check it out. Now, let’s get into today’s critique.
Motivational Women’s Lifestyle Blog

Shanti originally set out to create a platform to inspire and motivate women of color back in March of 2013. She started blogging through Facebook and Blogger on and off for about two years before migrating over to WordPress. The main concern Shanti has regarding her blog is ensuring that she’s creating a brand that attracts the intended audience. She’s had trouble in the past with graphic designers which resulted in her having to design everything herself for her blog. Now Shanti questions if it’s the design or the content that’s holding her back from receiving the traffic she’d like. Well Shanti, you’ve come to the right place.

The Good

When first arriving on your page, I notice you don’t have a traditional blog layout — instead you opted for a magazine style layout which is totally fine. When blogs have a variety of different topics they post on a regular basis I always suggest they try a magazine template instead. It just makes your content appear more organized and not to mention, you really can’t do much to make one of these themes look bad. You have everything important above the fold, from your simple welcome message to all your social media links to your navigation. I can find everything I need and contact you without having to scroll, so kudos. And let’s not forget to mention you have a clear color scheme going on: white, charcoal, light grey and the use of fuchsia for your accent color. I see you, girl!

The Concerns

I want to ensure I’m creating a brand that attracts my intended audience. Not sure if the design or the content is not up to par.

Your concerns are similar to Natasha of who didn’t know whether it was her content or her design that was hindering her page traffic. I’d highly recommend you check out that critique if you haven’t. Like I told her, me personally, don’t find anything wrong with your content, nor the aesthetics of your design. Sometimes with niche blogs (like this blog, for instance) it’s hard getting the traffic you want at first because sometimes not everyone is into the same type of topics you are.. or at least, they may not want to read about them. I totally understand that not everyone may not care for design or want to read about it. And you know what? That’s totally okay. After reading over some of your content, I wouldn’t say that you have a niche blog.. you’re more in the realms of what I would call ‘Motivational Lifestyle’. As your tagline says the purpose of your blog is simply to encourage, motivate and inspire. So if you’re not getting the traffic you’d like, I’d suggest getting more active on social media.

You stated that you’re a guest blogger for two other blogs, good! Keep it up! Like I mentioned to Natasha, women LOVE Pinterest — so make sure all your images are pin-able in the sense that it’s an interesting image, your title and link so ladies can go straight to your site. Since you’re in the business of motivating and inspiring, I would also consider things like a monthly motivational Twitter chats, inspirational podcast and things of that nature. You have some great content, it’s just time to engage more with your readers to keep them coming back. I will start posting more tips on how to better your brand through the use of social media, so stay tuned.

The Solutions

Honestly, there’s not much I’d offer because your blog is aesthetically fine, but just to be nit picky:

+ Sexy up the header. There’s nothing wrong with your header now, but if you wanted to change anything on your page this is what I would change. I would also maybe consider center aligning the title as my eye tends to fall on the mass amount of white space you have to the right of your header.
the blog critique | 08 | The Native New Yawker

+ Remove the word ‘Blog’ from your navigation bar. Since your main URL links to your actual blog, you don’t actually need to have the word blog in your navigation. Instead, I would change it to ‘Categories’ or ‘Topics’ since it’s really the categories of your blog you’re showcasing.

+ Throw a picture of yourself up! When I first arrive on a blog, I like to see what the blogger looks like. I would recommend adding your beautiful face to your Welcome panel. This way your readers have a clear idea of who you are, what you look like and how to reach you before having to click on anything on the page.

The Overall Critique

Overall, you have an awesome blog going on. The content is inspiring and the aesthetics are pleasing. There’s nothing on your page that screams ‘leave now!’. Having a magazine styled template definitely makes it easier to achieve a cleaner, more polished look. Just look at that sidebar for instance, everything is neat and the same width. No sexy-ing up needed this time. If anything I would just work on the minor tweaks like changing the word Blog to Categories or something of that nature and putting a picture of yourself up. If you can, center your header. Other than that I would spend your time working on engaging with your readers through social media. Try something you’ve never done before. Instead of writing your need post, try a podcast. Switching it up from time to time and providing different ways your user can retain the information you’re giving them will definitely drive them back. It’s worth a shot. Well, Shanti I hope I tackled some of your concerns today. Looking forward to seeing what you do with your blog in the future.

If you would like to submit your blog for critique, please send an email to with your name, blog URL, type of blog and why you think you need a blog critique.

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