Continuity of a path. The first step to increasing readership with design is to draw attention to the article. The second, equally important step, is to keep attention on the article.

Continuity is the idea that when the eye is following a line, it will continue to follow that line until something else draws its attention away, or breaks the line.

We can apply this principle to a blog post as well. When a user begins reading, we want them to continue following the article down. There should be nothing to steal their attention from the column of text.

Ensuring that their focus on the article is not interrupted allows them to more fully, and easily, immerse themselves in the words. In return, you may gain a new subscriber or comment.

Achieving Continuity

The thin of it is to weed out distractions. Beyond that, there are 3 good practices which you should adhere to.

  • Vertically consistent background. Blog headers and footers are typically very busy, designed, affairs. However, from the top of the actual article to the bottom, the background should be consistent. There is no need for fancy designs under the text, or for your sidebar background to stop half way (Good example: The new ProBlogger design. Have a look at the consistent design behind the articles).
  • Short sidebar. A short sidebar in terms of content, has its advantages. The sooner the flow of all of that distracting material ceases, the sooner I can focus solely on the article. If I’ve read a couple of hundred words of your essay, the last thing I want is your MyBlogLog widget grabbing my eye at the conclusion because I recognize my own avatar.
  • No animations. Animations, by their very nature, draw attention on a static page. Don’t let them do this when you don’t want them to. Samir Bharadwaj has a very memorable design on his blog, but he has a little image which scrolls down the page with you. When reading a post, that inescapable picture is always an unnecessary distraction.

Have a look at your own blog. What pulls you away from your articles?

One good way of testing this is to write an article full of dummy text. Read the text from start to finish, and take note of everything that causes you to look away during the reading.

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