Everyone would like for their blogs to be beautiful works of art and unique from all the others. Some level of individuality is a must. But there are other, more important aspects of the design to consider as well. It has to function and feel comfortable for the visitor.
We may think that we are building our blogs for ourselves when in fact, it is the reader who must be given the first consideration.
Your blog is your storefront, and if those passing by do not find it appealing. They will not come in for a closer look around.
Here are 10 design tips to consider BEFORE the blog launch:
1. Blog theme
Themes are available by the hundreds and you will need to decide what type of impression you want your visitors to have when they arrive. Do not allow yourself to become bogged down with the selection process, as this could go on for some time.
It is more important to get up and running so you can move on to the design and layout, so select 3 or 4 themes, walk away and be prepared to grab one when you return. Keep in mind, no theme is permanent and you have the option to change at any time.
When using a free theme, if possible, look to see when it was last updated by the theme developer and find out how many times this theme has been downloaded. No matter how attractive, you may want to select another if the current choice has been downloaded like 10,000 times.
Free themes can be found at WordPress.org’s Free Themes Directory or a host of other sites on the internet. Just Google “free wordpress themes” and you will have more than you really need to look at.
You may also opt to purchase a Premium theme, again not at all hard to find.
2. Design a decent header
This is the most prominent element of your blog and the first thing that will catch the eye of your potential reader. It is the awning above the store front and should not only look inviting, but deliver a message in a matter of seconds.
Much like free themes, free headers are available in large quantities. Here is one resource at Free Web Page Headers. Apply the same selection process rules to avoid getting lost in there with all of that eye candy.
Create your own header. Graphics are really not that difficult to create, I have been making all of my own for years. Hit me on the Contact page if you have an interest in this.
This is a very important decision, one that plays a major role in how long someone may remain on your blog and if they will ever return. Blogs (and websites alike) that have sloppy or cumbersome navigation systems will turn off a reader quickly.
People should not have to actually think about how to find their way around your blog. Navigation should be extremely easy with links located consistently in one place.
Links within your content should all be one color and should change to one other color when clicked on. Avoid any temptation to get fancy and have links of varying colors throughout your blog as this confuses the reader and is quite unattractive.
4. White space
You will want plenty of this, as it gives a feel of spaciousness and a clean look. Depending on your theme selection, you may have no white color at all, and this is okay, but do make an attempt to keep the site as “open” as possible.
You may have observed the fact that many of the highly successful blogs have lots of white space, which makes the blog easy to read and provides a nice backdrop for graphic elements. There is a certain professional feel to this as well, sort of like reading from a sheet of really nice bond paper.
5. Color schemes
As a matter of choice, I do not use colors that are too bright as they tend to turn away many readers, plus, it really is just not my style. Ultimately this is a choice you will have to make, but generally speaking, colors should me muted but complimentary. You should also stay with just a couple of accent colors. Too many serve as a distraction and pull the readers eyes away from your content, if they stayed long enough to even get that far.
6. Font size selection
Your content should be easily read so be certain to check the font size and style, allowing for those who have less than 20/20 vision. Every reader’s eyesight is not 20/20 so many may not bother to try to read what is not presented in a way that they can easily focus onto.
Now this where you will need assistance from a few friends or family members. Have them test drive your new creation and provide you with some honest feedback about how it feels to use the site.
Tell them that your success depends on their feedback, and that you do not want your feelings spared for the sake of a feel good moment.
I do not recommend that you do this test yourself because you will never see what many others may experience. Of course it looks okay to you, you created it in the first place.
A different perspective is a must to obtain the data you need to be certain your design has a broad appeal.
No blog is complete without an RSS feed. All WordPress blogs come with this feature built in, but be certain that the feature is functioning properly, as this is how many subscribers will get your updates.
9. Page structure
Update that About page right away so that people will get to know who you are and what you represent. Other pages like Articles and Resources may be added later, but the About page must be updated and ready when the doors open because first time visitors will make this one of their stops.
10. No clutter zone
There are tons of widgets, badges, Fan boxes, word clouds and other items of distraction that you can use within your overall scheme. Be very judicious here and keep things as plain and simple as possible. You running a blog or a pawn shop?
While tempting, too many things confuse the reader, as they will not know what you are trying to present to them.
The focus should be on your content and not an overabundance of eye-candy.
Save yourself some valuable real estate and wasted effort by keeping banner ads to a minimum. Unless you have floods of traffic, which is unlikely since you are just about to launch, those banner ads will most likely not generate very much revenue if anything at all.
These are some of the key design tips to consider while preparing for a new blog launch and there are many others, depending on your niche and intended purpose.
Remember to fully test your blog’s functionality before going live.
Feel free to test this blog’s functionality and stay updated by selecting the RSS Feed.