If you adhere to the tips below, you’ll be well on your way to a great blog design.
I would like to preface this by saying that for every item listed here, you’ll find a successful website that does exactly the opposite. I would say those are exceptions to the rules.
1. Make sure your site is mobile responsive
As more and more people access the internet via their handheld devices, it’s important that your site shows up well, regardless of gadget. This handy tool lets you see what your site looks like on various screen sizes. Just enter your URL.
2. Do make your blog’s purpose immediately apparent
Visitors should be able to tell within 3 seconds what your blog is about. Use a bio box, tagline or something similar to communicate it. Would visitors be able to describe to others what you do?
3. Use lots of whitespace
Whitespace allows your site to breathe and is less overwhelming.
4. Don’t clutter your sidebars with all sorts of gadgets and widgets
Only keep things that have a meaningful purpose.
5. Do keep your header height minimal
Don’t make your header image so tall that visitors have to scroll down excessively to see your content.
6. Do make navigation clear and obvious
You don’t want a visitor to land on your site, read one page, not know where to go next and therefore leave. You want them to stick around a while!
Bonus navigation tip: Have you ever visited a site, clicked what you thought was a link in the navigation menu and nothing happened? Then you realized there was a dropdown menu under that “link” and you were supposed to click on one of the options in the dropdown menu instead? Frustrating, right? As a site owner, I suggest you make that main navigation menu item a real link, so people don’t click with no result. Make it clickable, even if it links to one of the same pages that one of the dropdown items links to. (If that’s confusing, I dug up a very old explanation video here. Don’t laugh at me. :))
7. Don’t have auto-play music on your blog
Many an unsuspecting blog reader has come upon a site that scares the eebie jeebies out of them (or worse, their sleeping infant!) when the auto-play music starts blaring. The same goes for auto-play videos.
8. Do put a contact link, button or page on your blog
Do make it clearly visible. Blogging is part of social media and is meant to be engaging.
9. Do look at your blog from a reader’s point of view
Does your site make sense to a new visitor? If you’re not sure, have a trusted friend look at it for you.
10. Don’t use light text on a dark background
This is extremely difficult to read and is hard on the eyes.
- Print Friendly – A tool that gives your readers the ability to print out your posts easily. You can add a Print Friendly button to your site.
- HTML & CSS tutorials – Get a crash course in CSS or HTML.
Designers I recommend
If you’d prefer to hire a designer, here are a few suggestions:
Designers I have worked with personally
- Joy from Five J’s Design – Joy is a whiz at making your blog work. Her knowledge about the back end of blogs is impressive. Her design queue is typically full, but she is usually open to projects that are not full blog designs.
- Sarah from SM Design – Sarah is an old friend and has created a lot of my graphics, including my book cover (referral link). She’s amazing.
- Ted from Contemplate Design – Ted designed one of the version of my old site and is also responsible for the designs of Ann Voskamp, Lisa-Jo Baker and God Centered Mom.
Designers I have not worked with personally, but have heard very positive things about from other bloggers
- Genesis Developers (referral link) – A good place to start if you use Genesis.
- Erin from Design by Insight – I really like Erin’s designs which are clean and classy.
- Jennifer & Jason Bruce at New Season Design – Jennifer was mentored by Joy (Five J’s Design mentioned above).
Other ways to find designers
- Minted (referral link) – I’m pretty much in love with most of the designers here and if you click through to their profiles, many of them do freelance work.
- Dribbble – I could browse through this website for hours and not get bored. The talent in this world is stunning.
- Word of Mouth – By far, the best way to find a designer is by word of mouth. Don’t forget to ask on Twitter, Facebook or even your own blog for suggestions.