Do You Have a Wall of Black?

Years ago I remember hearing someone speak about marketing and the Wall of Black.

Chances are you’ve probably never heard of this concept, but once you learn about it you’ll notice it a whole lot more.

The Wall of What?

The person was speaking about Coke and how they market to their customers. He was saying that its Coke’s goal to have a Coke fridge full of Coke products on the wall directly opposite a shop’s doorway so the first thing you notice as you walk into the shop is the wall of black – a fridge full of Coke.

Once I heard about this I began to notice it in stores that I went into. If I went into a deli or takeaway shop the wall of black was usually there. Sometimes it wasn’t quite in line with the doorway, but it was usually pretty prominent in the store.

I never appreciated how competitive the soft drink market was until I learnt about the wall of black.

What Does Your Wall Look Like?

Blog Wall

What does your wall look like?

In the blogging world, you have your own ‘wall of black’.

It’s your blog’s homepage.

In particular its the portion of your home page that’s visible when someone first lands on your page. It’s like when you walk into a shop – you don’t notice everything in the shop straight away, but you’ll notice the wall of black if it’s there.

When someone lands on your blog homepage, what do they notice?

How does it look? If I looked at the top part of your homepage (the bit above the fold), is it obvious what your blog is all about?

Does it look inviting and interesting? Is it easy for me to work out what to click on and to find things that interest me?

Think about when you go into a shop for the first time. You probably don’t know where things are or where to look, so having the store laid out in a logical manner is a good start, as are signs and posters advertising the products.

Building Your Wall of Black

Find some websites that you like reading and look at how they are laid out. What is above the fold on those sites? How is their navigation designed? Is it easy to work out where to go?

Now compare these sites to your site and decide on improvements you can make.

I think there are a couple of ‘essentials’ for a blogger’s wall of black.

  • A very clear blog title and tag line. When I land on your blog for the first time, I want to know what it’s all about. I hope you’ve taken the time to think about your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) – an elevator speech that sums up what you’re about. If you look at my blog, under the title it says ‘Helping you turn your blog into a business’. If you landed here for the first time, I think that line sums up what I’m about.
  • Where do I go? Make sure your navigation menu is easy to understand. Don’t clutter it up too much, but make sure you use titles that are enticing and make me want to click on them. Writing this article has made me review my navigation menu and I’m planning on making some changes to it to simplify things.
  • Sign me up. One of the first things a new visitor should see is the sign up box for your newsletter. Mail services like Aweber make it easy to design and install good looking sign up boxes.

You only get one chance to make a good first impression. What can you do today to improve the look of your blog?

Do you have a ‘wall of black’? What does yours look like?

Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

Photo Credits : ReneS, Ali Burçin Titizel / Gti861

 

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About

Allan lives in Adelaide, South Australia with his wife and two boys. He is the founder of Blogger Business Plan and loves helping bloggers learn how to transform their blogs from hobbies into sustainable businesses.
When he's not blogging or working in his financial planning business, you'll find Allan playing guitar, reading or coaching his son's soccer team.

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7 Responses to Do You Have a Wall of Black?
  1. Dakota
    October 18, 2011 | 7:20 am

    Hey Allan,

    You’re right. I hadn’t heard about this one (the wall of black). Never thought too much about my homepage, but I will now. I am undertaking a serious task (trying to become Amazon’s #1 affiliate). It will take years, I know. My site is mainly a site for all things musical (piano). But, I want to blog about the challenge, and I have some great posts coming on it. Do you think I should have this info on my homepage? Or, just under a specific category on the site (pianolessongirl challenge)?
    Thanks so much.
    Dakota recently posted..No Posts Were Found!My Profile

    • Allan Ward
      October 18, 2011 | 4:07 pm

      Hi Dakota,
      Thanks for visiting and leaving some comments. I had a look at your site – well done! My advice is to not make your Amazon goal a major focus of your blog. It looks good how you’ve mentioned it on your About page, but I wouldn’t do too much else. The people who visit your site in the future will be there because they want information on pianos and instruments. Too much additional information will distract them. If you want to document your journey to becoming the #1 Amazon affiliate, consider doing it on another site.

      • Dakota
        October 18, 2011 | 4:18 pm

        Thanks Allan.
        (Hey Adrienne!)
        I wrote a post over 3k words that I was getting ready to post. You have me second guessing that now. My problem is that I have limited time to put into extra sites right now as I still have school work, piano, etc.
        But, my site hasn’t done well as far as making any money. I thought a good post might have folks ‘feeling’ the cause and jumping on board. Any input as far as taking it from making pennies to dollars would be useful.
        Thanks…Piano Lesson Girl,
        Dakota
        Dakota recently posted..No Posts Were Found!My Profile

  2. Adrienne
    October 18, 2011 | 1:42 pm

    Hi Allan,

    I’m with Dakota, I’ve never heard of this either but makes perfect sense.

    When I first created my blog I just created it to look how I wanted it and never even thought about my reader. I know, I learn as I go. I think it’s relatively easy to get around and locate things now. I’m sure there is always room for improvement but so far so good.

    Thanks for pointing this out. Hadn’t really given this much thought in awhile.

    ~Adrienne
    Adrienne recently posted..Stop Obsessing About It And Do It AnywayMy Profile

    • Allan Ward
      October 18, 2011 | 4:13 pm

      Hi Adrienne,

      Thanks for the comment. Your blog looks great. You’ve got a very clear tag line as part of your header, and the sidebar is clean and un-cluttered.

      The good thing about blogging is that it’s easy to try new things and test them out.

      Allan

  3. Eddie Gear
    October 19, 2011 | 1:18 am

    Hello Allan, Awesome post. I’ve read the comments and checked out a few things. I would love to share my insights. I hope that is okay.

    Dakota, From what i found on your blog its pretty new with not high volume of posts. One of the best ways to drive traffic and get found online is by getting people attention. If you can create a landing page about your challenge and add an image to your site bar highlighting the challenge, you can direct people there and they would get interested.

    If you are looking for detailed review of your blog to maximize readership and conversion let me know, I will be glad to help you out.
    Eddie Gear recently posted..WP.Com Vs WP.Org InfographicMy Profile

    • Allan Ward
      October 19, 2011 | 11:47 am

      Hi Eddie,

      Thanks for sharing these ideas – you’re always welcome here! You’ve suggested some good things. A landing page and sidebar image would work well – perhaps the About page could incorporate the landing page. Ultimately, the people who arrive on the site probably aren’t as interested in Dakota’s challenge as they are about getting information on musical instruments. I think this should be the focus, but give people the chance to find out about the challenge.

      Dakota, take Eddie up on his offer of help – you’ll learn a lot. I’m also very happy to help you out.

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