I’ll be fair here, while I earn money designing blogs, I’m still perfecting my craft – hence the million changes you see to The IC site. But I’ve been around the blogosphere long enough to know what works, what doesn’t, and what literally repels first time visitors from ever coming back to your site. So I want to give you some blog design tips worth writing down. You can pick and choose which ones you like and start a fight with me over the ones you disagree with.
Blog Design Tip #1: Clean up the clutter
You write everything from poetry to daily musings, so why is it I cannot find your actual content? When you bombard your blog with irrelevant images and sidebar distractions and it takes me too long to find what I actually came to find, I go cross eyed, have a seizure and click out of your page. Period.
Don’t get me wrong, imagery is important. But unless you’re an artist or have a portfolio style WordPress site specifically showcasing your photographs or work, there is absolutely no reason for your website to swallow your content.
Organize your layout – or choose one, or get one designed, or whatever – so that the main focus is on your content and everything else is just up to accent. Get rid of irrelevant widgets, links and ugly, wrongly sized images.
This includes ads. I get that many of us are blogging in hopes to reach that magic number in pageviews and in turn make money from blogging. You’re never going to get there, though, if your blog is filled with Google Ads. Not only are they ugly and distracting, but they also take away from your credibility. There is something trusting about a blog with little to no advertisements (and least not the kind that get all up in your kool-aid.)
Clean up your home before your guests arrive. They’ll stay longer.
Blog Design Tip #2: Color Picking
Holy rainbow, Batman!
Have you ever gone to a blog to find a color coated identity crisis?
Your blog doesn’t have to be a business blog to follow the basic rule of no-more-than-3. There are color palettes/ color scheme generators you can find on the web for web designers (Here’s one: http://colorschemedesigner.com/) that can help you settle on a color scheme. Many blog themes come with ‘skins’ but many also offer you the option to upload your own background, which is usually when the seizures begin.
And while we’re on the subject, stay away from neon text. Seriously.
Blog Design Tip #3: Legibility
You know those blogs that you’re really excited to visit, only to find they have a really hard color scheme for their content? Like, black background, almost transparent content background, and dark gray text? It’s not so bad if what you write are short nuggets but if you’re writing a big chunk of text (which you should be splitting up into paragraphs and headings anyway) it’s hard for the reader’s eyes to adjust and eventually, their eyes will tire from squinting.
It doesn’t have to be a hard contrast like white on black; you could consider an in between gray, on black with black text or dark gray text. Just make sure there’s a good balance between contrast and brightness to ensure visibility and legibility.
Blog Design Tip #4: Define your boundaries, but set a limit
2 things annoy the hell out of me when I visit blogs, and this may be my own personal opinion but I think many would agree here. One being a blog where everything has a border, and the other being a blog with everything floating into nothingness, no lines separating content and widgets. The latter has hope if your titles, text and images are so well aligned that the visitor could imagine a line… but still, it annoys the hell out of me.
Set your boundaries, but only the ones you need. I don’t want to see your sidebars flowing into your content. And unless you’re able to use images to set imaginary lines to show the reader some order, I’d really stay away from any theme or design that just floats your content in the air like it just don’t care.
Blog Design Tip #5: Invite me in, please.
First of all, I want to make sure I’m in the right home. If your blog name, title, or blogger name are no where to be found, how am I supposed to know I brought fruitcake to the right place?
This means figuring out a header or a logo that pops and brands you, permanently marking your blog into my brain. Let it fit your vibe and make sure to include your tagline so that if I find your blog via StumbleUpon, for example, it’ll tempt me to browse the rest of the site.
And matching is sort of important, too. Your widget titles, for example, should be consistent with your header or logo and overall site design. Again, if you’re purchasing or adding a theme if you find then this shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Keep in mind, however, that when you upload your header or logo to your new theme, it’s going to have to sit comfortably at the table with the rest of the design.
There are many sites that teach you CSS basics (the styling of a webpage) and many themes come with a custom CSS option where you can play around. Note: DO NOT mess with your theme’s CSS without creating a child theme or using the appropriate Custom CSS provided. You risk losing it and screwing things up on the first theme update. Also, don’t mess with this stuff if you absolutely don’t know what you’re doing because then, you’ll have to pay a designer or a developer to come fix it).
So keep the above in mind when you’re redecorating your virtual home. I started doing it to my blog years ago and eventually learned to do it well enough to charge people good money for it. If I can do it, so can you. I’ll be doing a mini CSS lesson in the near future for those who are interested in more than basic blog design tips.
And if you’re interested in having me do your blog, I design custom WordPress sites (like, one of a kind) built on the Genesis Framework. Here’s my website and our custom site pricing , some other design services and a little about my design process. And don’t cringe at the custom pricing. I’m giving any Indie Chick reader 55% off on any full design