When you start a blog from scratch one of the first things you will do is choose a blog design. With both Blogger and WordPress there are plenty of designs to choose from and each will suit people differently. It can be a little overwhelming at first, which is best? Which will people be drawn to? Choose the wrong design and it can put people off, people are visual and first impressions count!
So how do you know which is the best design for your blog?
The layout is very important, get it wrong and people may get confused and click away from your site. It seems to be the norm that sidebars are on the right- all three of us have right sidebars for our own blogs and this one does too. But in fact studies show that the eye is naturally drawn to the left and if you want to have ads in your sidebar then you want people to see them- something to think about!
Play around with different layouts to see which you prefer. Blogger makes this much easier, being able to drag and drop boxes into different layout patters. WordPress is a little more difficult as you need to choose a theme that matches your criteria but you can filter the themes according to different specifications. You can pay for a theme of course, this makes it much easier to customise and will set you apart from the masses.
Something you do want to pay attention to though is the width of your text. So many blogs use the whole width of the page and this can be rather distracting. Aim for a central text box so the reader’s eye can focus on the text easily.
Ok so now you have your layout you need to think about your header. Even if you have been blogging for a while you will often decide to do a redesign and the header is the main thing you will look to change. The header is the first thing people see and it needs to look clean and professional.
There are a couple of options here, you can either pay someone to design a great looking header to capture the essence of your blog, or you can make one yourself. Canva is a fantastic tool and both Aby and Kate used it to create their headers. Canva is good because the resolution is crystal clear! You can also make your FB and Twitter headers to match which is very handy!
So what design do you go for? Well, whether you want a drawing of your family or a large title with no graphics you need to make sure it represents your blog and if you want to work with brands you want it to look professional. Something else to consider is whether you include a tagline- when someone lands on your site can they tell what you write about?
It can be really frustrating if you land on a blog and have to read every single post to find a topic that interests you. By using categories you can help your readers find exactly what they are looking for. If you write recipes can they go straight to desserts? If you are a home blogger can they find everything relating to bedrooms? Make it easy to navigate and they will want to return again and again.
You also need to bear brands and pr companies in mind- can they easily find examples of work? Have you got a ‘reviews’ category? And if they like what they see, can they contact you easily? If you want to be discovered then you have to make it easy for them!
So where do you want your menu to be? Most opt for just underneath the header but it is becoming more of a trend to have your categories down the side as part of your sidebar. Take a look at other blogs and see which design you prefer- which do you find easiest to use?
Some people seem to use their sidebar like a shelf in their home, filling it up with unnecessary clutter. Make sure you only have essential badges and information down the side and ensure that nothing will be a distraction. Ads can be dreadful for this, flashing about and becoming a nuisance to the reader!
Whether your sidebar is on the right or the left, the most important thing to note is the placement of social media icons- make sure they are at the very top of your sidebar so that people know where to find you! There is nothing worse than loving a blog, only to find you cannot connect with the blogger!
The other essential piece to have on your sidebar is a lovely big photo of you! People like to see who is behind the blog so make it a smiley photo rather than a graphic, it is easier to connect that way.
Hopefully that has given you some pointers, if you are not sure which elements need tweaking then try this free service from Peek Testing– their volunteers will navigate your site and give you feedback! So helpful!
Have you got any tips for anyone starting a blog regarding design?