I often am asked about blog design and I thought it would be a great idea to share with you some of my top designing tips. After working with hundreds (possibly thousands) of clients, I’ve picked up on a few things that many people don’t take the time to consider. You don’t need to hire a designer or spend a lot of money to make your blog look put together, you just need to know how to think about design. Here are my top five suggestions:
Make sure your blog reflects you.
Ok, I know this one seems like a give-in, but I work with so many clients who have literally no idea how they want their blog to look. Something that should be so easy turns into a big task for them when they can’t decide on a style. What I always ask them to do is send me a list of all of their ideas, favourite colours, images or graphics that they like, and even other websites that they like the look of. It could be a whole random concoction of different things, but it says a lot about their taste. Some even create Pinterest boards full of inspirational ideas. Choose things that appeal to you. It’s that easy. Once you have your collection of findings, see what is common about them. Perhaps it’s a certain texture or a colour. A font. A feel. Anything. Dissect it all and group certain styles together. If you start your blog designing journey out like this, you can be assured that it will reflect you because it is made up of everything you like. All you have to do is put it together…
Be careful when mixing styles.
It may happen that you have such a broad range of ideas and favourite styles that they just don’t mesh. I’ve had clients tell me that they want a clean, minimalist design with lots of white space, and then throw other items into the pot such as bright patterns and scrapbook-like features (tape, paper, etc.). These are two totally different styles. Do you know how difficult it is to create a design with those directions??! One says “professional and clean” while the other screams “fun and quirky!”. You need to be sure that you stick to one idea, and that your chosen elements from above work with that idea. Eliminate the things that don’t work with your idea and you’ve just created the building blocks of your blog (say that 10 times fast!).
Worry about flow.
How your blog flows is basically how a person’s eyes move around your page. You don’t want them jumping all over the place, you want to make sure your layout provides an enjoyable reading and viewing experience. As humans, we start reading at the top and work from left to right. What do you want your visitors to see when they first enter your blog? Usually it’s a nice header that sets the tone for your space. After that, navigation links for easy accessibility. Below this area is the main content area. When thinking about this area, I like to put (what I consider to be) the most important content near the top. The content that I want my visitors to see right away. They shouldn’t need to scroll all the way down your page to try to find something. This makes for a less enjoyable experience. Keep your key content in visible areas and make sure your blog is easily readable.
Make sure everything fits.
By this I mean that if you have a designated area for something, make sure it fills that space. The most obvious thing to mention would be post photos. When your post photos fill the entire width of the content area, it adds to the enjoyable user experience. Little photos sitting in the center of a wide content area not only looks sloppy, but gives the impression that you don’t know how to properly format posts. The same thing can be said about the sidebar areas. I’ve also found that if you have multiple sidebars, making them the same height when filled with content is essential to a pleasing flow.
Don’t throw a font party.
I know it can be tempting to some to use a different font on every post. My rule of thumb: Never use more than 2-3 fonts max. This includes all fonts in your actual designed layout as well as in your posts. Mixing too many fonts is a top reason that many blogs look messy. Your fonts should work together, not battle each other. There should be a main font, a secondary font, and your post font. Anything else and things start to look a little sloppy. You also shouldn’t even have to touch the “font” selection button in your post editor since your default post font is set up through the actual layout’s CSS file already.