Yesterday we talked diligence as an essential element of blogging, but today we’re going to talk about the funner, sexier side of blogging : design.
I have a background in art, although truthfully, I never finished my dual major in English and Art (I opted for English only, and then simplified that to Communications). Certain professors may read this and scoff at my rather liberal use of “background in.” I never even took a digital tools class (although I have basic experience with Illustrator and InDesign through my job).
And yet, I do care about good design and remember a few things from my art classes in high school and college. Plus, I lived with design majors for four years, so their pretention and jargon had plenty of time to rub off on me.
And if that weren’t enough, I’ve found a plethora of well-designed blogs that have trained my eye for this one essential design principle :
Grab ‘em above the fold.
Or in other words, make a good first impression. Get them at first glance. Give the blog your style, but make sure that the design is easy on the eyes. (Another huge thanks to my fairy blog-father Darrell Vesterfelt for designing my blog!)
Don’t believe that crap about good design only being necessary for design bloggers. The design of a blog is especially important for writing bloggers because bad design distracts from good content.
A couple of tips :
1. Build a blog that looks unique, but sophisticated. Your header is a reader’s first exposure to your brand, so make sure that you’ve at least found a way to customize it in some respect – a font, a color scheme, quality photos.
I would recommend picking the most basic template your blog host has to offer, not one of the templates that has flowers and birds all over it. Why? Because the flowers and birds templates are usually less customizable and harder to read. And also, approximately 1.5 bajillion other bloggers have chosen the same template with the same crazy 70’s floral pattern that burns my retinas and forces me to click away before I can read anything.
2. Make who you are and what you’re about immediately apparent. A profile photo and a 1-2 sentence bio will give them a foundation for understanding your voice and your content.
The blog/blogger that has been most influential in helping me comprehend good design is Bri Emery of Designlovefest. She has great tips for creating a clean and unique space. My dream is to someday attend her Blogshop class.
Here are some great examples of simple, sophisticated blog designs that inspired my new blog design :
You’ll notice a few common design denominators that most, if not all of them, exhibit :
- Lots of white space, and a simple color scheme. You won’t see a whole bunch of boxes and lines squishing their columns and content, or crazy patterns, or a rainbow of blinding colors. You have to give your content room to breathe! Make it feel zen. Make it feel like they’re reading a good book on their back porch on a sunny day.
- A commanding header.They’re simple, with one or two fonts and one or two colors. These headers are sleek, professional, and to the point. And above all, they’re sexy. Again, no crazy colors or overly treated (distressed, frilled) or cliche fonts. Also, you’ll notice I have a thing for dramatic ampersands. Hey, if you’re going to emphasize something, pick the one thing that’s easily customizable!
- Their ads aren’t everywhere. If they have them, they’re in their proper place, which is to say, they’re not interrupting their blog content! And also, they’re giving the ads equal weight by making them all the same size, or at least the same column width.
- Their text is formatted. No CRAZY SHOUTING IN ALL CAPS or underlining, bolding, and italicizing every other word. They write in an even tone, which means their readers can read in an even tone. And they bullet when necessary, highlight when necessary, and their text layout isn’t all over the place.
- Their width for photos, columns, and text are all consistent. It keeps everything orderly! Just take a look for yourself.
What design details entice or deter you from reading a blog? Designers, do you have any thoughts to add to this?