One of the saddest truths about the blogosphere is that no matter how amazing your blog content is, if your site isn’t well designed, it’s doubtful that people stick around to read it. It’s not that readers are shallow, per se, but more that the bar has been raised. There are plenty of websites that have mastered the art of design and paired it with amazing content, and the average reader has come to expect more from the blogs they read. Here are some ideas to make certain that Design of Your Blog can go toe-to-toe with the best.
1. Keep the Aesthetic Modern:
Today’s eye is trained to find clean, simple lines pleasing. You see this aesthetic apparent in everything from fashion to furniture. Think about it. One of the core reasons so many people abandoned MySpace in favor of Facebook was because of the relatively blank canvas that Facebook offered. Gone were the flashy doodads and GIFs and music players. Instead, users could focus on the content, that is, the updates made by their friends.
Think of your blog along the same lines. Eliminate elements that will only serve to distract your reader’s attention away from your content. Instead, find a clean, simple design that will serve to highlight the “personality” of your blog. A great example of this is the blog Antiphrasis, which functions as both a design-oriented blog and a personal blog. The design highlights what’s important, the content, while adding to the overall feel and personality of the blog.
2. Focus on the Visual (Photos):
Even though I’ve advised you to keep it simple already, you shouldn’t take that to mean that I think you should be rid of all photographs altogether. In fact, a comprehensive stock photography site can be a blogger’s best friend.
As people have grown more accustom to consuming content online, they’ve also begun to need time to digest it. One of the best ways to help your reader’s eye move down the page is to break up your content with photos that are pertinent to the information you’re giving them. Remember the old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words”? The added benefit to including photographs in your posts is that it will help your reader associate the words they’ve read with a visual idea. Just make certain that the photographs you choose work well with your content. Following is an example from Design Sponge, a beautifully designed web-design site.
3. Improve Navigation:
Make certain that you spend some time considering how your reader will navigate through your blog. If your links don’t work or your navigation is clunky, chances are you’ll lose your reader. Make certain that you periodically run tests on your site, preferably through the back-end of your development software, when you’re building your site’s theme. Really put yourself in the place of your reader and ask yourself what you need to do to make the site user-friendly. But functionality doesn’t have to exclude flair. You can make your navigation icons fun and unique, while still functional. A great example of fun and functional navigation icons is Vivi Le Dish.
Though it might seem a silly point to harp on, I can’t stress enough just how important font choice can be in blogging. Think about it, if you got back a response to a business inquiry written in Comic Sans, what would you think? Most likely you’d find it unprofessional and think about severing ties with the contact. While you have more freedom in font choice than you might in other arenas of life, it’s still important that you make good choices. Pay attention to the blogs you read and the choices they’ve made in font so that you can model your own blog’s design on ones that you find aesthetically pleasing. If you don’t have a lot of experience differentiating different fonts, you can always spend some time reading up on them. A great example of font choice is Inspect Element.
5. Get Feedback:
Finally, the key to having a well-designed site is to actively look for feedback from other designers. After all, who better to help you pinpoint flaws, mistakes, or point out areas you might have overlooked than others who are also actively engaged in the exact same process that you are. Additionally, engaging with members of the design community can help bolster your own creativity and help you stay abreast of what others in your field are doing. Find a community or a forum that works well with your personal style and then engage with the other designers. Not only will you get some valuable feedback, but you’ll also improve your critical eye. Stay engaged!