the blog critique | The Native New Yawker

The Blog Critique #09: Improving Your Blog’s Design For Longer Page Visits

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Happy Halloween! It’s Thursdayyyyyy, ya’ll. This week I’ve been all off with posting. Between having a wisdom tooth removed and battling a cold, I’ve just been out of it for the past week or so. However, this week I was determined not to miss a Blog Critique. So let’s jump right into it!
Teen Jazz Musician Blog

Saxophonist (you gooo, girl!) Shannon’s blog is a community for up and coming jazz musicians. Her blog features everything from music and career advice to equipment reviews to interviews with other jazz artist. Even though she has some older readers, her current demographic is high school students. Shannon submitted her blog for a critique because she wanted to get some tips to help improve the flow of the site’s design to invite readers to not only stay longer but to engage as well. She’s also unsure of her blog’s current design. Which demographic should she gear it towards? Her younger audience or older? Well, Shannon.. you’ve come to the right place.

The Good

When first landing on your page, there’s quite a lot of information to take in but being that there’s ample amount of white space, it’s not too bad. Your slider features pivotal information that can get users started with your blog, including your awesome video explaining what your site has to offer. You have all your important links from About to Contribute to Contact all above the fold and your navigation is broken down nicely, making it easy to find exactly what I’m looking for whether it be an interview or a podcast. Since the goal of your blog is to build a community of musicians, you have clear copy and great call to actions making it easy for users to engage one way or another. So for all those things, kudos.

The Concerns

I’d love tips on improving the flow of the site’s design to invite readers to engage more and stay longer.

At the current time you have a lot of information on your landing page. Though informative, it can be pretty overwhelming to a first time user like myself. Despite everything organized wonderfully, my eyes don’t really know what it really wants to read first. You need to create an hierarchy of importance on the landing page so that you can control the viewer’s eyes. If the video is the first thing you want your viewer to see, then forget the slideshow for a minute & just have that as the main focus. Since you already have a blog link within your navigation bar, I would worry about paying more attention to promoting your other stuff such as your blog or the teen jazz radio.

To build a hierarchy on your landing page, I would remove the slider and have your introduction video as the main focal point along with your description of what you’d find on the site. I would completely remove Latest Articles & Featured Teen Jazz Artist as you can display these on the main pages of the respective links. I would move your Call To Actions for your users above the fold so that after watching the introduction video they can decide how they want to engage on your site whether those blocks or your navigation bar. The last thing I would have on your landing page would be your product promotions including your book, the Teen Jazz plugin and Teen Jazz radio. The reason I removed blog posts from the front page is because the moment a user actually clicks on the Blog link they will be able to see your latest post and interviews. By placing all your goodies on your landing page, it can be overwhelming to some readers. Since your layout is not that of a traditional blog, it’s vital that you give them the most important information first. Once that information is received, the user can then choose how they wish to navigate further into your blog. But don’t put all your goodies out there! Let them explore pages!

I’m afraid to go with a design or look that specifically targets my younger audience.

Since high schoolers are not that far removed from adults I think you don’t have to do much with design. At the current time, your site is mostly white, black and bronze. That’s totally fine. But do remember when marketing to teens, or anyone for that matter.. its all about images. The bigger and bolder the images, the easier it will be to grab the attention of your demographic. Not to mention, the bigger and bold the images, the more ‘pin-ready‘ it becomes.

The Solutions

+ I’m unsure of what CMS you’re using right now, but I would recommend in the future to maybe switch to as it will make things easier to organize in the future. Not to mention, you can use some awesome themes for I would highly recommend checking out

+ Restructure your landing page. There’s a lot of information to take in when landing on your page. I keep the most important information needed to get a first time reader started with understanding your site. If you throw everything up on the landing page, you’re not really giving the reader room to explore. The more the reader explores the longer they stay on your site. As long as it’s easier it is to navigate, the longer they’ll stay as well.

+ Make sure all your images pop! With things like Twitter around now, the attention span of a teen is probably equal to that of like.. a fish. If you want to grab and keep their attention, make sure you have plenty of images that draw them.

The Overall Critique

Overall, you have a wonderful blog and I think it’s wonderful what you’re doing for up and coming jazz musicians. Your site is loaded with great, informative content but the landing page can overwhelm some readers from ever reaching it. Cut back slightly. The main thing I would recommend doing at this time is really rearranging the way you present you information on the landing page. I think the video and ‘What Will You Find Here At Teen Jazz’ section should be the first thing a reader sees when arriving as it literally talks about everything your site as to offer. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with your design as far as targeting either young or older readers. I just recommend you make your images pop to grab the attention of your younger readers. Well, Shannon I hope I was able to address some of your concerns today. I’m 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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