Blogging 123: Design Tips

 

Ok, so you have an awesome blog, awesome content, but…wait. The website doesn’t look quite right, but you can’t figure out why. Good design might not be what brings readers to your blog in the first place, but it certainly help to keep them there. And if you’re ready to take your blog to another level of professionalism, this is important to consider. With that in mind, here are some tips to consider when designing your blog (or website).

1. Organization

Oftentimes I will come across cool blogs with great content, but I have the hardest time finding what I am looking for. Don’t force your readers to be endlessly scrolling or searching to find your content. Like me, there are a lot of readers looking for specific things, and the more efficiently they can find your posts, the better. I will get into the technical side of organizing your posts in a moment, but let’s start off with some tips and things to think about when organizing your posts:

  • Consider having multiple categories or pages, as opposed to one never ending page. Make it easy for readers to find what they like!
  • Decide what the “main categories” and “sub-categories” should be on your blog. Main categories would be general topics. My blog, for example, is very random, so there are quite a few categories, with the main ones being Beauty, Fashion, Creativity, Education, Lifestyle/Misc., and Tech. Subcategories are the topics I write the most about. For example, for beauty I have two sub-categories: Favorites/Reviews and Starter Guides. If your blog is geared towards a more specific topic, such as Fashion, you may not have any sub-categories at all, just the main ones (for Fashion I have DIYs/Tips and Lookbooks, but you can break it down even further).
  • Decide how you want to utilize tags for your posts. I make it a goal to include at least three for each post, to hopefully make it easier for readers to search what they are looking for. Tags would be key words associated with your post that would most likely be searched. For example, my tags for this post are: blog, blogging, tips, design, graphic, tutorial.
  • One mistake I had made with my previous Blogger account was assigning posts to multiple categories (or “labels”), which made my posts a bit of a scrambled mess. Even if a post is relevant to one topic, I personally think it is best to assign every post to only one category.

If using Blogger: If you were wondering how to organize your posts in Blogger, the answer is labels. You can add labels to your post and also create links for each label in the menu of your blog. The link to the post that helped me do that is here.

If using WordPress: Just as you would think, you organize your posts in WordPress by using Categories, which can tagged to each post and also added to your home menu

2. Layout

Now that you got your posts all organized, it’s time to make them look good and easy to read. One of the most fun choices you make when designing your blog initially is choosing a theme, which sets you up with a set layout, fonts, and color scheme which can later be edited. Now you don’t need to get too fancy here, but you do need to put some thought into the theme you choose. I will discuss typeface and colors later, but let’s start with the basics of layout.

  • Keep it simple! As tempting as it might be to through every tool at your disposal into your blog, remember the number 1 goal of your site: to be read and understood. Don’t distract readers from your content and make sure everything is easy to find.
  • Think about how you want your menu to look on the page. Originally on my blogspot site I had a horizontal menu bar across the top of the page, with different categories readers can explore, as well as links to my social media. Now I have a menu on the side that can be minimized, which has all categories, ages, ad social media links. Having a menu that is simple to navigate is great, and love that my current menu can be minimized when readers are viewing my posts.
  • How do you want the body, the crème de la crème of your blog, to look? This is up to you, but I personally like having snippets of each blog available and being able to click on one to read it, as opposed to scrolling through one post after another, which can get tiring. This is why I chose the layout that I did for my WordPress blog, but again there is no right or wrong answer and it all depends on your niche and your preferences. Keep playing around with layouts until you find one that feels right. Remember that although it takes a designer to know what makes good design, everyone has the ability to recognize good design when they see it. If it feels right, go with it!
  • More than likely, you’re probably going to advertise with your site to bring in an income. You may even install widgets for your blog. Be sure to keep these features in moderation, and play around with it until it looks right. If your site looks clustered and overwhelmed by your adds, try again. I’ll admit that adds are a tricky part for me, but be patient. And when you see code, don’t run away in fear! There are plenty of tutorials and features to turn a coding task into a very simple copy and paste operation.

3. Typography

Now onto font…this topic I can go on and on about, but let’s stick with some simple tips, eh?

  • Use as few fonts as possible
  • When you must use more than one font, choose ones that are completely different, not similar. This might sound odd, but you’ll know what I mean when you see it
  • Become familiar with the basic font families. For a brief, easy intro, click here.
  • Just like you, fonts have attitudes/moods. This one is probably obvious, but just make sure your fonts reflect the content of your blog. Again, keep playing around with different typefaces; you’ll know when you have them “right”.

4. Colors and designs

Ok, so you’ve categorized your starting posts and you’ve picked a theme; now it’s time to edit it. Before you go adjusting the color palette and choosing your background images, here’s some things to note:

  • Know a little bit about color theory. Ok, don’t be scared by the word “theory”, just make sure you know how to pair colors together for the best look. It’s actually quite easy; for a quick recap on how to use the color wheel click here.
  • Choose colors that match the attitude of your blog. For example, if you are creating a blog about self help or perhaps vegan lifestyle, you may choose to go with calming green tones. Again, play around with the colors until you like them. Remember that colors can be made greyer (decreasing saturation), darker, or lighter, which can help make a more intense color look more fitting.
  • Make sure your type contrasts with the background behind the text. Most commonly, this means black text on a white background, which tends to work the best. But if you try a different color combination, make sure the contrast well enough that you can read the type without too much difficulty.
  • Use images sparingly. Modern design tends to be very simplistic (less imagery, shapes, and color blocks, more empty space). Just take a look at how CPR cards have changed over the years, for example:
course-card-15-1805
2015 AHA BLS Provider Card
San%20Jose%20BLS%20Class%20Card
Same type of card, from 2010
  • If you aren’t already, become familiar with photo editing software. Certain cameras/lenses are recommended to bloggers/vloggers, but you can get good images with your iPhone too! But it’s not as simple as point and shoot. Test out a few apps and get tips wherever you can.

Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed the first installment of Blogging 123. Was this helpful for you? Do you have other design tips and tricks you would like to share. Let me know in the comments below!

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