June 5, 2013

Making Your Blog Design Great

 (Images via The Everygirl 1, 2)

Having just gone through a blog overhaul, I felt compelled to share some tips with you on creating a great blog design - combining the elements that you love with the elements that make it a great experience for your readers. There are so many things to consider when it comes to designing your blog - whether you're doing it yourself or trying to communicate your ideas to a designer. As I always say with these "blogging tips" posts, I'm not at all an expert. But through my own experiences, I've gained a solid knowledge of blogging dynamics. And it would just be shameful not to share my insight with you! Read on for more!

Have a focus
There's nothing worse than landing on a blog that doesn't have a focused layout. What does that mean, you ask? Whatever design style you want, stick with it throughout - follow it through down to the last little detail. If you're looking for a minimal design, you probably shouldn't seek out scrapbook-y graphics (just as an example). You want everything to fit together seamlessly. I also recommend utilizing pinterest. When I was going through the design process with Alison, I created a pinboard so she could see my vision. I pinned lots of images with blush pink, romantic fonts, and girly details. Not only did it help me, it let Alison inside my head.

Be consistent - colors, fonts, design elements
There's also nothing worse (for the reader) than a blog design that isn't consistent. When it comes to colors, fonts, and design elements - less.is.more. Period. With colors, I say no more than three (unless you're using a colorful custom header, in which case I think it's even more important to limit the colors in the rest of your design). With fonts I suggest two - one that pops (like for your header) and one that's simple. Keep design elements simple, too. For example, I knew I wanted to use some lines on my blog. Alison came up with the triple line idea and implemented it throughout my design. Consistency is key and it will make your readers so happy.

Resize your images
I've mentioned this one before. Know what size works for your blog and resize all your images to the same width. You want to make sure that your image size doesn't take forever to load - otherwise, people are going to peace out. This is purely for aesthetics - it just looks cleaner when all your images line up. PicMonkey is a great (free!) website to do all kinds of edits to your photos - including resizing.

Social media links and contact information
Make your social media links and contact information easy to find. All in all, most of us are lazy when it comes to hunting down information - blog reading included - so you want these links to be very obvious. Also, it never hurts to have them in a couple of locations on your home page. Alison came up with the cool idea of putting mine along the top and under my photo.

Have a great "about" page
When I say "great" I really mean interesting. Something different. Something unique. Something you. I've found that the most interesting about pages are the ones that really let the blogger's personality shine through. (I'm still giddy over the way Alison used some of my instagram photos in mine!) The ones that I love the most have wit and pizazz. I especially love Lindsay's and Bradley's!

A navigation bar is just that - a tool to guide readers through your site. Pages are a blogger's best friend. They help you organize your site and make it easy for readers and brands to find information. Use your navigation and link to those separate pages - your policies, disclosures, about, etc.

 Make it easy to comment
Finally, a great blog design will have an easy way for readers to comment. Readers should be able to find your comment section quickly and easily. I highly recommend doing away with the word verification. As I mentioned about the social media links, readers want things quickly. Word verification is just one more step they have to go through and it may prevent someone from leaving a really great comment. Instead, you can change your settings to moderate the comments. Or you can always use a program like Disqus which, from what I've heard, makes responding to comments very quick and easy.


Want more blogging tips? Click here!



Sam (Savvy City Chic) said...

Great tips! I'm in the process of slowly redesigning my blog. I want to make it easier to use and stick to an overall theme more.

Unknown said...

Thanks Julie! I love this post so much. While re-doing my blog, I found myself scoring the internet for a concise list of "must-do's". I continued to get caught up in the design element and not focusing on the actual functionality of my blog! I notice my images still load slowly (working on resizing...) and I want to add disqus for easier commenting! Among many other things.. haha! Great post!


Justice Fergie said...

love these tips! i'll make sure to share this post when I'm consulting with folks on their brands.

Unknown said...

Wonderful tips for a great blog, Julie! It might look like a lot of steps, but they are all, as you have well pointed out, necessary and useful.
Myrtle Beach Fashion Blog

Unknown said...

I have really been enjoying these posts. Thank you so much for sharing!!
I hope you are having a great day!


Unknown said...

This is exactly how I communicated with my blog designer. I believe my blog, Coffee Rings & Southern Things, turned out exactly the way I'd imagined it. It really does pay off to use Pinterest, too.