We believe that a clear set of principles and best practices helps our customers, employees and investors understand what our goals are and why we make the decision that we do. Principles let our customers know what value we can and can't deliver, provides guidelines for our employees when dealing with customers to deliver that value, and in return guides us in delivering more value than what we charge for.
It lets us evaluate how we're performing over time, and make adjustments as necessary. We adhere as best we can to these principles, and refine them over time as we continue to gain experience and better understand our customers.
We help site owners turn their food blogs into successful small businesses with practical guidance.
Food Blog Best Practices
Building a food blog is a life-long learning experience, which requires relying on others within your community as well as developing your own skillset and knowledge-base.
These best practices for food blogs are an accumulation of over a decade of web design and marketing experience, and are designed to give visitors what they need, while achieving business goals. They'll be continually updated to be accurate at the time of reading, but like all things online, will change over time.
How to use these Best Practices: default to our recommendations if you don't have have a specific, compelling reason to do things different. But unless you have specific user-experience design background backed by A/B testing, you should use these defaults.
(and if you do know of UX or A/B tests that run counter to these, send them our way!)
Here they are:
- The primary focus for a food blogger is:
- Creating unique, quality content; and
- Networking and promotion
- All other settings and tasks should be left as defaults set by best practices, or changed only for compelling reasons and delegated to specialists (such as theme developers and recipe plugins) who should charge appropriately
- Food blogs should be designed for user experience and backed by real-world usage data and analytics - page load times are heavily weighted, and SSL is mandatory for visitor privacy
- Caching should be used to minimize page load times - this should be done at the server level by your hosting company
- WP Rocket is the only caching plugin we recommend, but it's not as effective as server-level caching
- Images should be balanced for file-size and quality, for performance
- This is approximately 1200 pixels wide and 200-kb in size for a base image (3:4 standard = 1200px or 600px high)
- Mobile-variations should be generated via image optimizer plugin
- Images should have descriptive file names and alt content for accessibility
- URLs for recipes should be non-date-based and human-readable
- Incorrect: feastdesignco.com/2018/02/03/the-post-title
- Correct: feastdesignco.com/the-post-title
- Correct: feastdesignco.com/gluten-free-recipes/the-post-title
- Recipes should be unique and catered to each foodie's audience, evergreen (non-date-based), and thorough
- Fewer recipes that are more thorough are better than many short recipes
- Related recipes and content should be linked to from within the content
- Variations of your recipe can be created in the same page for different demographics (eg. replacing wheat flour with brown rice flour for "gluten-free")
- 99% of the time, visitors to food blogs arrive at a specific page looking for a specific topic or recipe; as such, categorization, and recipe indexes are largely unimportant to most visitors and serve provide only marginal utility
- This comes in the form of referral traffic from social media (pinterest, twitter, facebook) as well as links to your recipes from other food bloggers, email, and finally search engines
- If you have data to the contrary please reach out to us
- Thin content pages (eg. categories, archives, recipe indexes) should be avoided, and actively noindexed.
- Update: Add content to your category pages, and let them be indexed
- The following should never be used on any website: autoplay content (videos), pop-overs + pop-unders, rotating banners + sliders (see: why sliders should be banned, by Yoast)
- Header images (eg. blog logo) should be small and obtrusive so that the main page content displays above-the-fold. Visitors don't care about your logo - only your ego does - so keep it small
- Also see: rethinking the newsletter
- Design principles should be adhered to:
- Primary colors should be used for calls-to-action, such as buttons, or to highlight important pieces of content
- Supplemental content (header, nav, sidebar, footer) should be slightly less prominent than primary content, using either reduced dimensions, smaller typography, less intense colors (eg. dark grey instead of black), or a combination thereof
- Images in food blogs (including "process shots") should take up 100% of the content width
- Links embedded in text should be immediately obvious: adhere to standard web practices of using blue underlined link styling
- Buttons (especially mobile navigation, search, logo) should be a minimum 50 x 50px
- The body font size should be designed for optimal readability: 45-75 letters per line (see: Baymard, WebTypography)
- This translates to 18px - 20px in most cases
- IMPORTANT: every font is sized and spaced slightly different, changing your font means that you need to adjust multiple font properties to keep it ideally readable
- Paragraph length should average about 5 sentences for readability, with each sentence being 17-20 words.
- Additional reading: Typecast: A Modern Scale for Web Typography, BetterWebType: Rhythm in Web Typing
- Menus should be concise and relevant to the majority of your visitors
- Use a single menu - dual navigation menus confuses users and shows that the site owner doesn't have a good grasp on what's important to their visitors - it can also cause SCHEMA issues with search engines, and accessibility issues with screen readers
- There's no need to link to your "home" page in the navigation menu - visitors know to click on your logo to get to the home page
- The "About" page is important for your visitors to learn about who you are, and for search engines to establish E-A-T (authority)
- A "contact" page should be placed in the site footer, not the site header
Feast Design Co. Principles
- KISS: keep it stupid simple - focus on the few things that matter, and get rid of the rest
- Our customers are recipe sites and we are the best at creating recipe sites, we will only partner with the best to provide that
- The value we deliver must exceed what we charge for our target customers
- Our target customers are not one-time theme purchases, but life-long partners to whom we provide constant value in return for services that enable them to run the best food blogs in the world
- We value all constructive feedback from customers and factor it into our decision making
- We're not the right fit for all people, and will actively transition away customers who stray too far from our principles so that we can pursue excellence for our core customers
- We target the middle 80% of the market, which is food bloggers looking to make $100 to $50,000/month from food blogging
- The bottom 10% demand too much for too little, we will not provide service without being adequately compensated because this steals focus from our core customers
- The top 10% have requirements too custom and too specific, which distracts us from servicing our target market (this is where you need an in-house developer)
- Customers should receive guidance from us, but should not expect to have things done for them (for free)
- The earnings from recipe sites are determined both by the amount of effort put in, and how intelligently it's done
- Food bloggers should be provided a roadmap to success and a benchmark with KPIs (key-performance-indicators) to understand their progress
- KPIs should be measured, and show growth over time
- Our target customers want to build recipe sites using best practices for websites, not waste time reinventing the wheel
- Recipe sites are businesses, and like any business, require adequate investment in order to be competitive
- Realistically, you can't compete with other food blogs for under $1000/year in quality hosting and optimization plugins
- You should be able to get onto an ad network by your second year, and earning $1000/month - your only goal is to get to 100 high quality recipe posts as quickly as possible
- We can only support a limited set of configurations (plugins, settings) due to the way that configurations grow exponentially and leads to conflicts
- More options do not lead to more happiness: the paradox of choice
- People are free to pursue their own configurations and customizations, but need to support themselves
How are best practices decided on?
I learned that if you work hard and creatively, you can have just about anything you want, but not everything you want. Maturity is the ability to reject good alternatives in order to pursue even better ones.Ray Dalio
Every decision you have to make as a blogger has trade-offs - there's a negative and positive side for every decision. New food bloggers - especially non-technical ones that don't have a background - do not have the knowledge-base required to make the correct decision.
That's why we seek input from a team of experts in their own fields.
Our best practices are oriented around keeping you focused on cooking, taking pictures, and posting recipes, rather than fiddling with design. These best practices are designed to get you off the ground, at least until your blog is generating enough income to hire experts yourself. Anecdotally, the earliest this tends to happen is around 100,000 pageviews/month.
But one thing that comes up time and again is flexibility - you should be able to make your own decision, if and when the time comes that it's worth it.
So we've extended our themes with functionality in the Feast Plugin, allowing you to turn some features on or off, and make decisions that are best for your particular case.
Web design framework
Websites are a complicated mix of interconnected, and sometimes competing objectives. Which approach you should take is often subjective and depends on your goals.
To help understand how we approach web design, we'll outline some questions and lenses we run questions through:
- is this good for the user?
- is this maintainable long term?
- does this match long term trends we're seeing in:
- user behavior?
- our culture?
- has this been tested to demonstrate positive or negative results?
- is this a case of the blind leading the blind?
- is this a solution that everyone benefits from:
- the reader
- the webmaster
- is this good for SEO?
- is this good for pagespeed?
- is this good for accessibility?
- is this a solid business principle, or a short term trend?
- is this a valuable request that someone would pay for, or a black hole of time with no tangible benefit?
- is this a reasonable request based on sustainable, real-world rates?
- is this a case of an individual having a warped sense of entitlement?
- can this be simplified, or done in a different way?
- is this worth investigating further?
- is this a common question or request that we see?
- is this an isolated incident?
- is this something that we can reasonably do in-house, or is it so complex that it requires a paid third-party specialist?
- five whys
- how can we fix this long-term instead of solving for this one situation?