Not sure what blog features to include on your personal or company blog, or a blog for your client?
A well-designed blog feed is key to helping users stay engaged, and increases the likelihood that they’ll share your content with their networks. In fact, since redesigning the Tiny blog feed late last year, we’ve noticed users stick around to read more of our articles, and our average daily/monthly pageviews have more than doubled.
Our digital experience team has found there are a number of essential features (plus some nice-to-haves) that can make all the difference to your users and help make your blog successful. Check out some of our favorite blog features below to help make your next blog design or redesign the best it can be.
16 essential and nice-to-have blog features
1. Archive page
The blog archive page provides a way for readers to access all your blogs. If you’re starting out with just a few posts, this page might show 3-5 of your most recent posts, with numbered pages to navigate to older posts. Or if your blog already contains a lot of content, you can make it easier for users to find older content they’re interested in with categories, dates, and other filters.
2. RSS feed
Nearly all blogging platforms come with a built-in RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed to structure the blog content. RSS feeds are practical because many readers will use an RSS reader (like Feedly) to subscribe to your blog and access your content alongside their other favorite blogs.
3. Reverse chronological order
One of the features that defines a blog is the order posts are displayed. Recent posts are displayed at the top of the feed, with previous posts displayed underneath in reverse chronological order. Blogs are structured this way so that readers can easily access the most recent news or updates.
There are two main reasons why search is important for your blog. First of all, you need a blog that’s easily crawled by Google so your audience can find it. One way you can do this is by using relevant keywords in the URL, title, headings, and body of each blog post.
And secondly, a search function within your blog can help your audience find specific information without needing to hunt through archives or categories (which isn’t practical once you get past 20 or so posts).
5. Categories and tags
Categories allow your users to choose a topic that interests them and explore all the articles that fit that topic. Make sure your users can easily reach your categories via your blog archive page. Every blog post must fit into at least one category, so choose your categories carefully so that they reflect the overarching themes and topics you’ll write about.
Tags aren’t required, but they’re still important for your blog. If categories are a bit like chapters in a book, tags are like the index. It’s best practice to add tags for any topics or details mentioned in your blog, especially if they’re likely to be keywords or terms that your audience is interested in. That way, your readers can click through to find more specific related content.
While not all blogs include a comment section, they’re a valuable feature for most brands. In fact, comments can be the most entertaining and useful part of a post 🍿😏
Comments enable a two-way conversation with your audience, giving you insight into what your readers think, the opportunity for readers to hear other perspectives, and the chance to build a relationship with your audience. When your audience can engage in your blog, they’ll be more motivated to engage in other ways, like sharing the content or signing up to your newsletter. That said, a number of brands choose to switch off blog comments due to spam, limited resources to monitor them, or because they wanted to direct the conversation to other platforms (for example, we prefer Twitter).
Now for some nice-to-haves...
7. Consistent UI
While not essential, it’s always a good idea to structure your content so that it follows a consistent UI. The resources for each post should be in the same location - featured image, main heading, body, comments, source code, files, and references (if you have them). Consistency makes it easier for your users to navigate and find content. When they know what to expect, they can focus on what matters most - the content itself.
8. Featured images
Most blog posts have a featured image that’s displayed at the top of the post, on your blog feed, and whenever a link to your blog is shared on social media. A featured image can help increase clicks to your blog by catching your audience’s eye and enticing them to click through. The right image can support your written content, make it more exciting, and break up the text.
9. Post excerpts
A post excerpt is a short summary of your post or a hook that grabs a potential reader and makes them want to click. When you enable post excerpts, these are usually displayed on your blog archive page along with the featured image, so readers can decide if a post is relevant to them before they click through to read it.
10. Social sharing
With 3.8 billion active social media users, it’s not surprising that a large portion of blog traffic comes from social media. Make it easier for new readers to find you with social sharing tools that encourage your audience to share your articles. Depending on what tool you choose, sharing your article could be as easy as clicking two buttons.
Social sharing and bookmarking tools make it easy for your audience to share the article from your page. There’s a high chance they’re using a mobile device, so copying and pasting the URL and opening a social media app can be more painful than it’s worth.
Needless to say, this is one of the features on our roadmap for ongoing improvements to our own blog 😉
11. Related posts
The related posts feature is usually used to dynamically add links to similar posts on the bottom of your blogs (or related product or services pages). Linking to other posts can encourage readers to stay on your site for longer, while offering up content that’s relevant to their interests. Most plugins for related posts work by automatically choosing the posts based on similar categories or tags, or manually selecting what posts you’d like to display. But some offer more advanced selection based on:
- Post content
- Post author
- An algorithm or AI that uses some (or all) of the above
12. Featured posts
You might want to feature a limited number of recent blog posts on another part of your site - usually your home page. This feature can help:
- Increase traffic to your recent blogs
- Add a dynamic element to an otherwise static page
- Show that your brand is active
13. Newsletter signup
Readers who like your content will want to get notified each time you share a new post, and email is a much more reliable way to reach your audience over social media posts that may get lost in the newsfeed. Add a newsletter signup in your blog footer, at the top of your blog feed, and anywhere else your users might pause and think, “I’d like to be on this list”.
14. Author bio
While not essential, an author bio section can help create a stronger connection with your readers. If you’re blogging on behalf of a brand, adding a name and face will make your content more trustworthy, especially if you’re an expert or authority.
15. Click to enlarge images
Embedding small images in your blog can save real estate and make your page load faster, but there are few things more frustrating than trying to see details on a tiny image. An image lightbox or popup plugin can overcome this issue by allowing your users to click on images to enlarge them.
Some photos will fit better at a small size, but it’s nice to be able to see an image full-size so you can get all the details.
16. WYSIWYG editor
One of the keys to a successful blog is making it quick and easy to add content. A rich text editor enables content creators to write their content and format it - all without writing a single line of code.
Our TinyMCE editor is trusted by millions of users and comes with advanced content creation tools, like PowerPaste, integrated image uploading, a spell checker, accessibility checker, and link checker… plus loads more features.
If you’re not yet familiar with our TinyMCE WYSIWYG HTML editor and how it provides users with a great content creation experience, you can start by checking out the demo on our home page.
Or contact us for more information about how to upgrade your existing content platforms to take advantage of the power and simplicity provided by TinyMCE.
Pay attention to your audience
We’ve given you 16 essential and nice-to-have blog features, but that doesn’t mean you should implement them all. Start by following best practices and listen to your audience - prioritize the features that will bring them the most value.
Experiment with different features to see how they impact time on page, bounce rate, and how much your blog is shared on social media. Remove features that aren’t getting used (as they may distract your user) and stay away from anything that may annoy your user and get them to click away.
We’ll be back soon with a list of blog features to avoid, so keep an eye out for that!
Over to you
We’d love to know what features you’ve chosen for your blog? Or is there a common feature you find super annoying or unnecessary? Let’s continue the conversation on Twitter @joinTiny!