I can’t tell you how many times I’ve re-designed my parenting blog. Most of the time it’s been because I just become bored with the design or something was just missing. But since I began blogging I’ve learnt that it’s not just about me liking it, it’s about making it look good for the people reading my blog. Of course when it comes to blog design your budget can have an impact, but it is totally doable with minimal funds if you follow these key blog design tips.
#1 Create a Header That Grabs Attention
They say first impressions count and with blogs, that’s a definite. People are so time poor these days and so if a blog doesn’t grab their attention in the first ten seconds, they are likely to click off, go somewhere else and never come back. Other blog header tips:
- Preferably 1000px x 300px in size
- Maximum of 3 colours
- A tag line
#2 Vary Your Fonts and Go Nuts in the Header
Have varying fonts in your blog, perhaps one font for the body text and a different text for blog post titles and side bar headings. Using varying fonts (and fonts a bit more hip than your usual Arial or Times New Roman) shows you really care about the appearance of your blog. And with your header, go nuts with font here, you want to capture attention.
#3 Just Because You Like a Colour Doesn’t Mean You Should Use It
Just like I said at the beginning of this post, I tended to go with colours I liked and didn’t think of the reader. The most important thing with blog colours is to try and follow through from your header and aim for consistency. Make sure all the colours you use match each other and are from the same palette, to play it safe it’s often better to go for plain colours.
#4 Make It Easier For Your Readers To Follow You
One of the main way readers will want to follow your blog posts and interests is by Social Media and so you need to make it easy for them to do so. Place your social media buttons high up on your sidebar and don’t forget to include an email button and RSS button. Many readers still like to use an RSS reader to receive your blog feed.
#5 Have a Search Button
How many times have there been when you read an amazing recipe on your favourite blog and you want to go back to get it. Well this is where the search button comes in handy for your readers. You can’t expect them to scroll through your archive lists, instead typing in a keyword is likely to bring up what they’re looking for.
#6 Have a Photo of Yourself
No one really likes looking at a photo of themselves, but I find it’s really essential in many types of blogs where you are trying to build a connection with your readers. As a personal and parenting blogger, I find this aspect of my blog very important as it enables my readers to connect with me on a different level when they are reading the stories I share. A professional photo is always the best, but if you don’t have one, try to use one that is as close to professional as possible. The other thing with having a photo on your blog is that it’s your brand. I use the same photo on my Twitter, Pinterest and Google+ accounts so people can make a connection.
#7 Use Photos on Your Blog
There’s nothing more off putting for me than when I see big chunks of text on a blog. Photos break up the content and most often have links to the content and make it that much more interesting but don’t go overboard with them, 5 max. In terms of photo size, make them the same size as the width of your post area, they’ll capture more attention this way.
#8 Look After Your Sidebar
Again, it’s all about consistency here and the sidebar should flow on from the colours already used in other parts of your blog. Make sure all the widgets are well aligned, at the beginning decide whether or not you are going to center them or align left and follow that rule. Don’t overcrowd the sidebar, limit flashing .jif files and keep the categories to a minimum. Remember, your blog is about readers reading your content first, you don’t want to draw their attention away from that.
#9 Make It Easy For Non-Bloggers To Comment
There are many different commenting platforms that don’t make it easy for non-bloggers to leave a comment. I personally changed over to the Disqus commenting system because of this reason, Disqus allows readers to log in using their social media profiles (Facebook & Twitter) and leave a comment.
#10 Use Your Footer Space
Remember how I suggested not overcrowding your sidebar? Well the footer is the perfect place to put some of your sidebar content.
#11 Is Your Blog Mobile Friendly?
Have you checked to see what your blog actually looks like on a mobile device or tablet? Sometimes desktop layouts can view incorrectly on mobile devices and cut off parts of the blog making it difficult for the reader. Blogger and WordPress both have mobile options, so if your blog doesn’t view properly on mobile devices when set to desktop view, perhaps it might be a good idea to change the setting over.
#12 Embrace White Space!
Good blog design is about getting people to read your blog. If you have a distracting background, it’s likely your readers will be drawn to this instead of your great content. After you’ve made your changes to your blog design, get a friend to critique it for you or ask your readers what they like and don’t like. Your readers are often your best source of honest opinion.
Another option is to use peek.com where are real person does a quick critique video and emails it to you, and it’s FREE! You can get 3 free critiques a month. You can watch the critique I had done on my other blog before I upgraded the blog design here.