|"I ♥ My Blog": Tips on Blog Design|
When it comes to the hierarchy of our websites, the general consensus is that content is king. But if the content is king, the look of your site is queen. And just as the saying goes, “Behind every good man is a good woman,” with our blogs the greatest content can be hampered by a faulty design. When it comes to the look of your blog, you want to consider some of the following as you work with your design:
Readability: Making your site readable could mean anything from making sure your fonts aren’t too small for people to read to choosing color palettes that don’t cause too much strain for your readers. One of the biggest problems with my old design was that it featured white text on a black background; it was feedback from a few readers that led me to change both the font and color scheme. The key is finding the look that is both appealing and accessible, for you and the people you hope to reach.
Personality: Just because you want your site to be readable doesn’t mean it has to be completely bland! Who you are can, and should, shine through in the design you implement on your site. It could be your color schemes, or a few fun fonts … Just be sure that when people see your blog, they can see a bit of you in the design choices you’ve made!
Novelty: What new, or fun, or cool, etc. elements can you bring to your site? Novelty with a blog doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing something your readers have never seen before. It does mean that you’re keeping your site up to date: updating information, giving them something different to look at (i.e. new blog updates, or sharing news as it comes in, etc.) so that readers don’t get bored with what you have to offer. Novelty, with a blog, is all about keeping things fresh.
“Uniquity”: One problem some blogs face is that the site owner sees something they like elsewhere and copy it … verbatim. It’s the little things that make your site unique. Whether it’s the icons you use for links to social media, the fonts or images you use in blog posts, or a uniquely designed header, you want to make sure your site isn’t just a cookie cut out of everything else that’s out there. Just as with personality, you want to make sure your site is an expression of who you are … not Joe Schmo and the thousand other Joe Schmos who came before!
If there’s one word you should keep in mind when it comes to the feel of your site, it’s “inviting.” There are a couple features your blog should have to make sure readers both get to know you and feel as though they are really welcome on your site:
About Me: A page that tells your readers who you are and what you’re all about is a must-have. Whether you call it your “About” page or a “Bio,” your readers should have a place where they can learn more about who you are if they want to. (By the way, an “About Me” or “Bio” page could also be the perfect place for your manifesto!)
Contact: Some bloggers like to have a contact page. Others prefer to just have a link to email. However you do it, you should give your readers a way to get in touch with you. Don’t get me wrong here … I know plenty of writers who like privacy, and would rather die than give out their email address (okay, that’s an exaggeration, but you know what I mean). “Contact” doesn’t have to mean you share your email, or address, or phone number. Links to your social media pages could do it. There’s also always the option of having a form rather than sharing your email address; a basic web form usually allows you some anonymity so that you and readers can communicate without sharing tons of personal info.
“Call to Action”: A call to action is simply an invitation for readers to do something with what you’ve presented. It's your way of inviting readers to interaction with you. Whether you ask a question at the end of your posts or invite readers to share their thoughts, they should know that a response is okay, and that it’s encouraged! A call to action should be an invitation, not a demand: a “please” or “feel free” is always better than “do this”!
You: Above all else, your readers should feel invited to get to learn more about you, or share in the journey you’ve already begun to share by blogging. How you appear on your blog can vary. Maybe you provide a page of links to your favorite websites. Maybe you have a page listing your publications or where they can find you elsewhere online. Maybe you share your reading list. Again, this isn’t an attempt to get you to “bare all”: you have a right to privacy. But your readers also have a right to feel welcomed by you, and nothing makes that sense of welcome more evident than an evident sense of your presence in and on your site!
The “cotton” of your site is the stuff that helps you feel at home … It’s the “♥” in the “I ♥ My Blog” challenge. Here’s what I mean: I love to journal, but what really gets me pumped up to actually fill a new journal is designing the cover—as soon as I reach that perfect, “This book is MINE!” state, I can’t wait to start writing! As much as the design and feel of your blog is aimed at your reader, it’s important that you remember: this is your home. At the end of this post, you’ll find some articles to help you create the cotton of your site, including: personalized social media icons, a unique banner, a color palette you enjoy, etc.
I've received a lot of inquiries about the header design, and other graphics, on Our Lost Jungle. If you'd like to hear more about how these were created, please feel free to shoot me a message via the Contact Form, with the subject "Design," and I'll respond as soon as possible!
What are the elements you consider the most important when it comes to the look, the feel, and the “cotton” of your site? What do you still have to work on? Your task today is to think about your blog's design: if you feel you have the look and feel right, how can you improve the "cotton" of your site? Feel free to share your thoughts (and anything I missed!) in the comments below!
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Check out these helpful articles to help you create the look, feel, and "cotton" of your site:
- How to Choose a Great Color Scheme for Your Website
- The 60 Best Free Fonts for Designers (for creating a fun banner, icons, etc.)
- How to Design a More Effective Website Header
- How to Create Your Own Social Media Icons Using Picmonkey
- GIMP: My personal favorite (FREE!) program for designing banners, icons, graphics, etc.