This is a post I've been hoping to elaborate on for quite some time, and realised that as technology is under constant refinement it's important to stay on top of your website. Today I'll be offering out the best tips in graphic design and website designing and how to improve your traffic, overall appearance of the blog, whilst making it the best it can be in 2016. As a recent graduate in Graphic Design and Photography, a lot of my projects  involved making each of my designs optimised for a variety of platforms both offline and online. I treat my blog like a brand and how I can translate each piece of work into something special. Your blog might be your full time blog like mine, or simply just a hobby but it's not to say you should neglect it - especially if you want a readership. A blog needs to ooze your personality, as well as being searchable and readable. We all make rookie mistakes, even I do to this day! So this post is for everyone, whether it's your first day posting or you've been going for years. This will point your into the right direction to improving your blog for traffic and longer readership.



Improve Your Blog With Optimisation

Google has recently been losing interest in sites that aren't optimised for mobile devices, since on this site alone over 70% of you lovely readers are most likely reading this on a mobile device, it's a crucial factor that I make this optimised for all devices. You want to be Googles best friend, as you'll rank better in targeted searches. Check to see that your latest codes, html, javascript and css is up to date, and if you're using a theme on a platform, consider upgrading. This is exactly what I did when I rebranded to not only appeal to a more niche audience but also so that I can stay on top of my blogging game. The internet is constantly evolving and needs updating, and by staying on top of your optimisation through refreshments, image optimisation and cross-linking your own posts, Google will deem you as more favourable. That's the skinny of a large topic I'm gonna revel into sometime soon.


Don't Use Massive File Sizes

I'm almost pinching myself writing this, as a fashion photographer I'm persistently screaming at people for not using the best quality available, as the expression goes "you can't polish something that isn't fantastic to begin with". But when it comes to web design you cannot afford to have RAW size files that are 18MB a pop. The reason for this is that your site simply will not load. It's known that if your site doesn't load within 3 seconds your viewer will most likely click off your tab - which we don't want, as it disturbs our bounce rate, overall user experience and they're simply missing out on all this gorgeous content that you spend hours writing. 

So how do we fix this problem? Don't resize your images in Photoshop for starters! Use a compresser that retains the quality of the images. The number one rule of post processing is to put the image through as little changes as possible to preserve it's existing detail, as the more times we jump back into editing the old image, the more we destroy the file internally. I'd rather have an extra folder on my iMac with compressed and original files separated, knowing my originals can be copied, and resized according to what I like to do with them. So to prevent large loading times use a website like CompressJPEG (which is free woo!) as well as Smush It (If you've got WordPress this is also a plugin!) 

Speedy websites always get brilliant rankings, we're impatient as people so by removing a chunk of mega-bytes from our images is more important than we think. This tip should be used across all of your graphics, animations, imagery and if you can afford to do so, video also. 

Stay Original, Improve Branding

Your blog is your brand, it's the apple of your eye, it's your personality and everything you stand for. Don't be a sheep and be in the shadow of someone else.

By being original and keeping your content just as YOU intended it, people learn to love you for who you are. It seems as if blogging is a competition nowadays, and there's plenty of guides, and tips out there on what's hip and what's not. But really do you want to be known as the person who just follows the crowd, or leads the crowd? I'll always pick the latter any day.

The first few ways to originality is really sitting down with your blog, and working out who you are, what you're about, and what identity you'd like to perceive to the world. Some people use professional companies available for web design in Melbourne, or wherever they are based, to really get their site to stand out. In my re-design I wanted a magazine editorial design, as my bright coloured photos contrast against the black and white. I ditched colour for sophisticated simplicity, ease of user experience and content to be beautiful, elegant and a real head turner in a minimalistic way. But that's me, and my goals towards my blog present and future. I got up Photoshop and spent weeks devising a plan for a re-brand through inspirational images, fonts, layouts and animations I admired from across magazines and movies. You can outsource your inspiration from anywhere! Collect, strategise and implement - the workflow of every successful online personality. Originality is the key to success, and not only will you feel satisfied knowing your design is entirely yours but your viewers will get a slice of you as a person - we buy into peoples personalities more than anything else, when we read online. Have a go at designing your own graphics, and getting involved in your own site to scream and shout your passion for being blog-proud.

Involve Your Other Social Platforms

This is something I really believe will take off in the future, the past year I've noticed people adding their instagram feeds to the top of their blog - it's called cross pollination. It's a very clever trick to make your site the landing page of everything that you involve yourself in.
I recently added my instagram videos to my homepage side bar for a few different reasons, I lost interest in making Youtube videos and moved onto Instagram, and secondly because they are now viewable on computers, tablets and phones - why wouldn't you want to show off another side of you?
Going back to a point I made above, that is people buy into personalities I find it very valid in having some soul behind your blog. You're not a robot and have so much to offer, maybe you segregate your social platforms for different types of posts. I tend to find I'm very honest and overbearing across all my platforms but they have subtle differences between them. I'd want my personality to shine across the spectrum of my blog with all sorts of content so they can use it as a hub of knowledge and evergreen accessible content.

Use widgets and embedding codes to put your latest tweets and instagram posts at the bottom, so readers can see what you've been up to lately. My final tip on this topic is to design graphics according to each platform. I learnt the hard way that by editing an instagram video I can't have large 4K worthy graphics sitting in a 640x640px square. Do your research and find out what size your images will be when posted, so when you embed them into your blog they're not only website friendly but also social media friendly. Speed is efficiency. 

Learn About Graphic Design

It never harms to know a little design prior to application to your website. Not only is it good for organisation, but also inner creativity. Explore and be wild in programs like Photoshop and Illustrator, and see what you're capable of. 
To really own your blog, have a go at creating your own banners, headers, footers and manipulating your content to your own style to create inspiring graphics that are Pinterest worthy. Throughout my years at university I learnt that there's no such thing as bad design, only inappropriate for that brief. So by outlining what you're about you can tailor your blog to fit your tone of voice which is key in its unique success. 
If you're not comfortable designing your own website or graphics you can get Web Designing services from Tekfirst who do a fantastic job at understanding every client has individual goals and can walk you through the entire process like a breeze. 

I'd love to know some of your favourite web design, graphic design and blogging secrets. Let me know what you do to make your blog unique!