Following yesterday’s article about the new trend in blog layout and design, I want to point out that these new layouts can bring two tangible benefits: increased page views and increased conversions.
Some of the blogs leading the way with these new layouts are the business blogs and blogs that are run as businesses. One of these blogs is SmallFuel.com. It is not your typical blog design. For instance, SmallFuel lacks chronological archives by month or year. Instead, its archives are set up in categories — and not just any categories, but a grand total of just four carefully-selected categories.
The site is remarkably uncluttered. That has the effect of making you pay close attention to those four categories. And there is a Store integrated into the site to sell the SmallFuel marketing system.
So I asked Mason Hipp, the President of SmallFuel Marketing, Inc., what his experience has been with his site and why he set it up the way he did:
We decided to integrate the blog so closely with the rest of our website for a number of reasons. Primarily, it eliminated the need for us to advertise our products on the blog. It also produces an entirely consistent image throughout the site. The design itself emphasizes important elements, and leaves out unimportant ones; for example, we don’t have monthly archives on our blog because they just aren’t useful enough to our visitors.
Since our customers include small businesses, the blog is where we start. The more value we can give them in the blog, the more likely they are to move on to one of our paid services.
One statistic we’ve found to be better than average as a result is our new visitor to subscriber conversion rate. Our blog converts about 2.6% of new visitors into subscribers, which we’ve found to be a lot better than the average of about 1.5%.
A statistic that I think highlights the benefits of easy and simple navigation is the average number of page views per visitor. Our blog visitors view an average of 3.3 pages/visit, which is significantly higher than most blogs (which tend to average about 2 pages/visit).
Another interesting topic of discussion is the fact that we’re running on ExpressionEngine, not WordPress. We made that decision because ExpressionEngine is much more extensible than WordPress, and allows us to run a store and full website on one platform (also as forums, a wiki, and many other integrations). While I would not recommend it for the HTML averse, for a web developer it is as close to perfection as I have found.