Essential Elements of a Great Blog Design

Hi everyone! It’s Melyssa from The Nectar Collective. Today, I want to talk a little bit about what goes into a great blog design (and what doesn’t!). As a graphic designer and blogger, I create tons of blog designs for clients and have figured out, over time, certain features that can make your blog sink or shine. Here are a few of the essentials that I think go into creating an organized and personable blog design.

  1. Create clear categories. Categories (or “labels” on Blogger) are the things you write about, such as “beauty” or “pets.” Oftentimes, bloggers write about a medley of topics, so having categories on your sidebar gives your readers a way to sort through your content and navigate your site easily. But don’t overdo it! Displaying 40 categories will only overwhelm people. Try to stick to 10 or less.
  2. Social media icons near the top. This one should be a no-brainer, but I still regularly find blogs that either don’t have social media icons or have them hidden under layers of content, where they’re not easily found. Blogging is a social sport, and there’s a good chance that people will want to follow you on multiple outlets if they like your blog. Keep your social media icons in plain site, preferably at the top.
  3. Consistency. Building a recognizable brand doesn’t have to be hard — in fact, much of it just has to do with being consistent. Decide on a a color scheme and specific fonts (I recommend three, max) and then use them on everything you create for your blog, from post graphics to Facebook page banners.
  4. Clearing away the clutter. If you’re thinking of adding a new banner or widget to your sidebar, ask yourself — will this be useful to my readers? Sometimes they are, but most of the time, all those buttons and graphics end up making your blog difficult to navigate. If you absolutely need to display a bunch of buttons, consider creating a separate page and plopping them all in there.
  5. Make commenting easy. The community aspect of blogging is one of the most fun parts about it, but it’s difficult to promote community on your blog if readers have to jump through hoops to leave a message. Implementing commenting platforms that are easy to use, such as Disqus, will promote interaction.
  6. One sidebar or two? I almost always recommend using just one sidebar. When I first started blogging, I had two, and a reader asked me, “why would you want your actual content to be treated like a second-class citizen?” Ouch! But they were so right! Not only did my blog feel cluttered and overwhelming, but my actual content wasn’t what first attracted the eye. Two sidebars might work for very minimal designs, but usually just one is the way to go.
  7. Add a photo of yourself. When I first started my blog, I felt sheepish adding a picture of my face to my sidebar. But you know what? It’s probably one of the best things I did! Readers don’t just visit blogs because they like the content — they visit them because they like the blogger. Adding a photo creates a personal, relatable touch to your blog, which readers adore.

Lastly, I want to say that I hope these tips don’t overwhelm you! There’s SO much that goes into being a blogger that I could never completely encapsulate a great blog or blog design in a few bullet points. These tips are, overall, meant to make your blog clean, easy to navigate, and personable. Beyond that, it’s totally up to you how you infuse your personality into your own corner of the web. 🙂 Have a great weekend, everyone!

What is one thing you think every blog design should have?

Melyssa is a graphic designer and blogger hailing from the mean streets of Orange County, California. You can usually find her on her blog, The Nectar Collective, where she uncovers positive vibes, spreads creativity, and talks about her corgi more than most people talk about their children. She also spends entirely too much time on Twitter, so you might as well say hello! @nectarcollect.

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By Dana Fox

Founder of the Wonder Forest blog and brand and bestselling author of the Watercolor With Me book series.

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