The Basics of Blog Design!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Since my journey of starting doing some freelance design work for bloggers, it’s become really obvious to me that some bloggers (not all) don’t really understand what goes into a professional and good blog layout. So many bloggers out there are budget aware and in general, would love to be able to do their blog designs themselves. Having a unique and handmade blog design really reflects the person and personality behind the blog. While all of us might not know the language of HTML and CSS there are still things you can do to improve your blog without actually touching the coding. Today I’m going to share with you a list of non-technical things you can do to help improve your blog design.
Header Image:
This very first thing that people see when they visit your blog is your header or banner. This is an image located at the top of your blog with your blog’s name on it in a fancy or creative design. To give your blog some extra flare and personality it’s always a good idea to make a creative, but readable and unique design for your header. You can also add some color, fancy fonts and images to really bring your header to life. Of course to keep things professional be sure not to clutter the image or use unreadable fonts. Your readers want to have a visual representation of your blog.

Quick Tip: If you struggle with making your own graphic design elements for you blog you can also search and find a designer to help you. Currently, I work with bloggers to help create elements for their blogs, but Etsy is also a great place to search up other freelance designers.

Sidebar Design:
Your sidebar is the perfect place to keep all the important information about your blog. Everything from your ‘about’ section, your blog button, special information and disclosure all can be in your sidebar. It’s important though that you keep the most important information near the top of your sidebar but not to overdue it. For example, while it’s important to have a sidebar image with a small amount me section, always remember that you can create a blog page to expand on what is in your sidebar. Keep things clean, simple and professional and clearly separate the parts of your side so your readers know exactly what they are looking at or for.

Quick Tip: Make sure to keep your most important information up top. For me, that’s having my sidebar image and about me section right at the top. It’s also important to separate your sections with clearly defined titles to readers can determine which section to look at.

Colors and Fonts:
Have you ever visited a blog and immediately clicked off of it because of its crazy colored background, colored header and colored font? We know we’ve all come across something similar. No offense intended. Let’s start off with those crazy colors. While it’s completely fine to have a crazy bright pink or bright blue color you have to be conscious of what colors you are mixing with it. For example, bright pink and bright blue all over your blog might sway someone from staying there long periods of time. It’s much better to pair your bright colors with white, black or grey. You also have to remember that some people might have a hard time reading around those colors, or they might have a visual sensitivity. As for fonts, remember that you want your blog to be readable, which means straying away from those fancy curly fonts that are out there on the market. Of course, you can use fancy fonts but you can also choose to pick ones that are still easy to read. I also recommend sticking to a limited amount of different font’s styles (max of 3, but preferably 2). You have to always think about your blog layout from the perspective of your reader. While you might really enjoy your layout, will your viewers? Can people read your blog? Can people scroll and not be distracted by your colors? Ask yourself those questions.

Quick Tip: If you’re having trouble picking colors and fonts for your blog use the resources available to you. Of course, you can always contact a designer (possibly paying for branding information) or you can talk to other bloggers. My biggest source for branding (such as colors and fonts) is Pinterest – I always develop the best ideas from viewing Pinterest content.

White Space:
Did you know it’s alright to leave white space on your blog? Actually it’s one of the best things you can do for your layout. The term ‘white space’ is basically the area that you leave completely blank or empty. Cluttering up your blog with everything and anything can be very distracting for your readers or for yourself. Remember when redesigning your blog layout to leave white space so that your blog is visual appealing. I find white space for me also gives me a place to look when my eyes need a break. Maybe I’ve read a few of your posts and I want to keep reading but I just need a visual break from screen reading. This white space allows me to take a break and then continue reading.

Quick Tip: If you’re unsure of how to use white space or where to put white space check out your favorite bloggers to see how their blogs look. Compare your blogs to theirs and see where they have empty space. Try not to copy another blogger, comparing is more to gain knowledge and inspiration.

One of the easiest things that you can do as a blogger is implement pages for your blog. Whether it be something as simple as a page all about your blog or a page where you share your contact information. It’s important to have pages as a blogger because, yes people actually do look at them, but also because you need to make it easy for people to find the information they are looking for. For example, what if I’m a PR department for your favorite brand and I venture onto your blog one day looking for your contact information so I can send you some products or further information about my brand. Well what if I can’t find your contact information? It’s important to lay out all your important information so that your readers can find exactly what they are looking for. For my blog I even make categories so those who just want beauty related content have a page just for them with all my beauty posts. It’s all about making your blog reader friendly.

Quick Tip: When it comes to navigation and pages, if you feel you have an overwhelming amount of links all over your blog try creating a drop down menu. This allows you to categorize links and combine some so they can’t be seen until your readers hover over them.

Here are some more quick tips:
* Remove the default Blogger Navigation bar from your template, doing this keeps your blog looking professional
* If you're unsure of anything blog design related contact a designer to help build you a custom made blogger template or other graphic design elements
* Don't be afraid to ask other blogger, friends or family for feedback on your layout. Ask them if things are readable, clear and professional. Make sure they provide you with honest feedback though so you can continue to grow your blog.
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Embrace and Ignite is a beauty blog run by Krystal-Marie which is dedicated to being the buzz-hub for the latest and greatest beauty products.

Thank you all for sharing my love of beauty and makeup and I look forward to connecting with you all in the comments section!