As I design a lot of blogs, I often get asked a lot of the same questions, or I get clueless clients who don’t know enough about blog to properly brief me right away. And so it seems the easiest thing to do is create the ultimate guide to starting a blog, not just for my own future clients to read, but anyone wanting to start a blog (because really there is a limit to how many blogs i can take on!). This guide is to help you know exactly what you want for your blog, so you can make educated decisions, and go to a designer with an awesome plan of attack! Or even design it yourself. I was orignally going to have a page on my site for this, but thought it would probably reach more people as a blog series..so hold on tight my bloggy friends..here we go…
So you want a beautiful blog?
Whether you have been blogger for years and need a new look, or starting from scratch. This is the Tabitha Emma guide to a beautiful blog.
The benefits of good blog design…
1. First Impressions
A first impression does count. It encourages readers to explore, read more and stick around longer. You could have the most amazing content, but if your blog does not look enticing, a reader may click away before they have given you a chance.
Stand out from the sea of bloggers, and have your own visual voice. It will make you memorable and readers are more likely to return.
3. Better Reader Experience.
Like going into a nice house, shop or cafe. It makes the experience better, and creates a comfortable and inspiring environment. A well designed blog, is easier to navigate and explore, so readers are less likely to get frustrated, but will find what they want, and stick around to read.
A professional well designed blog, will make you the blogger, look more professional. It looks like you care for your blog and take it seriously. creating It creates trust, and loyalty in readers. And encourages people to hang around longer when they stumble upon you. People will feel like you have more to offer, as you put a lot of time and effort into your blog.
A good design, reflects who you are. Readers can feel they know you better, as the design reflects your personality. Think of your blog, as the online representation of yourself, it needs to be dressed, to portray something about who you are.
So are you convinced you need a beautiful blog? What next?
Things to Consider before you Start your Blog Design.
Before getting too carried away with a blog design, there are a few things you need to consider, and work out, to help you be sure you have all bases covered before the design work starts. If you go through each of these points, and jot down your thoughts on each, you will be amazed how quickly you start creating a strong design brief that really explains who you are as a blogger and what you want to portray to your readers visually, as well as how you want readers to be able to navigate your blog.
1. Pages to Include and Design.
Do you just want a blog page, or do you want additional pages added to your blog? Popular additional pages include:
-About: An about page, is a great way for readers to quickly find out who you are. When a reader enjoys reading your posts, they often want to know more about the person writing. This doesn’t have to complex, just a little blurb and a photo or illustration. Its also a great opportunity to share what else you do (which is beneficial if you run a business online) If you prefer to be anonymous, you could still share a bit about the things you like just to add some personality behind the blog. We humans are a curious lot, so about pages are always a great addition to your blog. You may however just want a very short blurb in the sidebar, and not require a page for this at all.
-Contact: It is important to have a quick and easy way for readers to contact you. There are many ways for someone to get in touch, so you need to decide if you want to dedicate a page to this, or just have a link on the blog page. You could have a contact form, email link, and or social network links (e.g facebook, twitter)
-Other pages: There are endless possibilities, but here are some that are used often; archive, categories, blog lists, portfolio, services, sponsors. Depending on your page needs, you may actually require a full website, that just has a blog component, rather than a blog with a few pages, so often pages are an important part to consider, to know the best way to go about creating your site.
Another thing to consider with pages, is whether you want the sidebar to show on the pages or not (take the menu into consideration, when deciding this i.e is the sidebar necessary for navigation)
2. Sidebars and Widgets.
Start by writing a list of all the widgets and components that you want to be included in your sidebar/s. Then based on that decide, if it will all fit in one sidebar, or does it need to be split in two, so the page doesn’t get too long. Next, how would you like those sidebars configured. Will it go on the left or right, or one each side? Will there be one wider and one skinnier or the same width?
Widgets could include: Welcome blurb, social links, search, categories, archive, email sign up, rss, blog lists, sponsors, external links, social feeds (e.g instagram, facebook, twitter, pinterest).
The sidebar is a great place to help people navigate your old posts (e.g popular posts, categories and archives) as well as see where else you are on the web (social icons, feeds).
Make sure you also consider the order of the widgets, if someone doesn’t scroll far, what do you want them to see up the top? What is more important?
The world of web fonts has really opened up in recent years, so it is now a much bigger area of consideration in web design. Do you want to use a google font, typekit font, a standard web font, or code in a font using another web font tool. Do you want to use non-web fonts for sidebar titles and therefore create graphics from type or do you want all text to be real text. And then what styles of fonts would you like to use.
Generally body text should be a serif or san-serif (slab serif can work too). And then for your headers and title do you want a more decorative font, or script or stick with a serif or san-serif font? Be ready to discuss this with your designer. And if you are an eager font lover, do a bit of font research, to be sure your designer picks fonts that you love.
4. Menu Links and Navigation
How do you want readers to be able to navigate your blog? If you have a lot of pages, or important categories, you many want a menu bar at the top of the page. If you only have a few link, a sidebar menu may work better for you. Consider what links need to be most easy to access. What do you want your readers to be able to find most easily? It could include pages, key categories and/or important external links (such as a shop or social sites). You may even need a menu with drop downs, if you have sub-pages or categories.
5. What Platform will You Use?
This is one of the biggest things of all to consider. And there are many factors to consider before making a decision. I am going to write another post dedicated to this topic, because it’s a big one, but in summary their is wordpress.org, self hosted wordpress, blogger, typepad, tumblr, squarespace.
6. Graphics, Icons and Illustrations
Illustrations, photos and other graphic images. You need to consider the kind of content and theme of your blog and the style of graphics, that will suit that. Do you have some existing graphics you want used or do you want a designer (or yourself) to create everything from scratch. If you have a profile image, do you have a good photo of yourself, need to take one or get someone to illustrate you. The graphics used will set the tone of your blog, so you may want to jot down some thoughts on who you are, the feel you want to convey and the styles that appeal to you. What do you want your readers to think of you when they see the blog. You may also want to start thinking about colour, and what types of colours will fit with your style.
7. Logo/ Header
This is the first thing people will see when they go to your blog, so it is a big one to consider when preparing to design/re-design your blog. This is your corporate identity as such. It is what people will visually identify you by. You will probably use it on business cards, Facebook header, and other social media. So think about whether you want a typographic logo designed that you can use for more than just your blog, including print, or just for the blog.
Will you just choose a nice font and make the header graphics something individual? Or get a unique logo designed which will be the main identifying graphic, and any other graphics can change from time to time. The banner needs to say something about you, who you are, what you do and what you blog about. Do you want to be classy and understated, bold and energetic, cute and feminine, creative and crafty?
Hope you found this post useful, if you are thinking about starting or revamping your blog.
Want to learn more about designing your blog and making it more beautiful? Download my free e-guide.
BEAUTIFUL AND KEEP READERS ON THE PAGE LONGER