Theory: Uncluttered Designs Increase Readership but Decrease Ad Revenue

Posted December 11th, 2009 by Michael Janzen and filed in Blogging

Recently I simplified the look & feel of my busiest blog by installing my new WordPress theme, Basic Simplicity. In the past when I’ve changed themes on Tiny House Design but I’ve never noticed so much noticeable effect in user behavior. The only real difference I’m aware of is that I’ve never used such an uncluttered design before.

Ad revenue has dropped and readership, stickiness, and total page views have increased. It’s too early to be able to provide any meaningful statistics but it seems that by focusing on content and allowing it to take center stage the ads are just getting overlooked.

Normally my knee-jerk reaction would be to move some ads back into the content itself except I like the increasing readership numbers too much so I’ll hold back and watch the trends for a while.

My suspicion is that a clean theme is better for increasing readership and cluttered designs are better for ad revenue. So if you are making a living from blogging be careful about switching to an uncluttered design, but if you’re still in traffic growing mode consider a simple theme.

In a month or two I’ll post some charts after I have some real data to prove of disprove my theory. In the mean time I’ll continue to watch and learn.

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