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Blogging 101: Design

by Meghann on December 22, 2008

Part II: Design

Design is a very important element to each blog. The design can be very welcoming to a reader or it can be too much and scare a reader away. I always preferred blogs with simple classic looks that were easy to navigate and easy to read. Heavy backgrounds may look good in theory, but it causes the readers eye to wander too much and lose focus of what they’re reading. You also want to stay away from white lettering on dark backgrounds. The writing may appear to look great when you’re actually reading from the blog site, but if a reader is viewing the post on Google Reader, the white font appears invisible against the white background.

The header at the top of the blog is another attention grabbing element. I loved all the blogs with custom headers as it really individualized them. Despite my artistic abilities – I swear I have some somewhere – I am a really, really bad graphic designer, luckily ZestyCook was able to help. He sprung to the rescue creating several blogger’s wonderful headers including VeggieGirl, Eating Bender, Megan’s Munchies and countless others including mine. I really think the custom header is a way to personalize the blog, making it your own outside of the generic template lay out.

There are a couple of widgets on my blog that I always searched for on others. The first and most important element is the search tool. If you do not have this widget on your blog, add it. I constantly try to search for things I remember reading on other blogs using this tool and it’s a lifesaver if you are trying to find an unmarked recipe, work out plan or general idea. Links on the side are useful for marking recipes and general ideas. Readers need quick accessibility to what you feel is important go to items on your blog. The archive widget is also very important, try to select the widget which gives you the archived history by each day.

The Pages on the top of my blog are the first thing I always look for on other blogs. I love reading the About Me sections, seeing Pictures and reading FAQs on all of the new blogs I read. If you have an About Me post be sure to advertise it on the top of your blog because it will be the first things readers will want to see. To this day those pages are the most clicked on links on my blog.

Design is important to blog, but remember its all about individuality and what makes you stand out from everyone else. These are just a couple of ideas of what I believe works for great blogs. There are of course things I am still learning about blog design and everyday try to tweak my blog to get the most I can out of it. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments on design that I may have left out. I would love to hear everyone else’s theories as well.

This is Part II of a four part series.

1 carolinebee December 22, 2008 at 10:57 am

I totally agree with you on the About me and pictures part- it makes it so much more personal! One thing I don’t have that I like on your blog and others, is the picture on the side…it gives a visual of who you are as I read, so if I’m reading for the first time, it’s nice to be greeted with a smiling face! Thanks for this tutorial, haha I can see your biz-nass skills at work!

2 sweetandnatural December 22, 2008 at 10:59 am

Thanks again for sharing your insight! I agree that design is a VERY important element of a blog. I tend to give up on blogs that have messy layouts b/c it’s too much when you’re trying to read them!

3 Kat December 22, 2008 at 11:14 am

Sorry this is random; I am catching up on a couple of days past, but where did you get the Eggnog mix? I would love to try my hand at making some cookies with it!

4 Jenny December 22, 2008 at 11:22 am

All great points, this series is a good idea, lots of wonderful tips! I love the about me section the best on most blogs, it gives readers perspective 🙂

5 Erica December 22, 2008 at 11:24 am

Another great post! I need to figure out how to do those tabs in google blogger. Hmmm 😉 Hope work is going well. Anyone else come in or are you still all alone?

6 VeggieGirl December 22, 2008 at 11:25 am

Design is DEFINITELY a crucial component to one’s blog – love all this information!! 🙂

7 eatingbender December 22, 2008 at 11:52 am

I think that these Blogging 101 posts are really going to help a lot of people. It can definitely take a while to get acclimated with all of the features that Wordpress or Blogger offer, but you are helping the process along by introducing some of the key terms to look for. I agree that “About Me” sections are one of the first pages I click on when I find a new blog. And thank you for the custom header shout out 🙂 Zesty definitely knows what he’s doing – much better than anything I could ever come up with!

8 ksgoodeats December 22, 2008 at 12:04 pm

Love this series! I agree – less is more when it comes to layouts. About me sections are really important! I like to know more about people and if they have that saved, it’s so much easier for me!

9 Sharon December 22, 2008 at 12:08 pm

Great post Meghann. Looking forward to the other topics coming up.

10 Anne December 22, 2008 at 12:19 pm

Great post! I’ve been trying to redo my blog for months, but can’t find a background that I love as much as the one I have. The only issue I have with it is that some plugins don’t work with it.

BTW, its a dark background with white writing and it shows up perfectly in google reader. (Black writing.)

Anne

11 caitlin December 22, 2008 at 12:45 pm

you have some wonderful advice!

12 Heather Eats Almond Butter December 22, 2008 at 12:53 pm

Great tips – thanks! Zesty does make amazing headers. Your’s looks great!

13 Maris December 22, 2008 at 12:54 pm

Blog design is definitely tricky – thanks for the tips!

14 Melissa S. December 22, 2008 at 1:46 pm

these posts are really really helpful! I’m so glad you decided to do these!

15 Hangry Pants December 22, 2008 at 2:49 pm

I love your blogging 101 posts! I agree about the search box. Mark moved it to the bottom so he could put the button for the food drive and I freaked out. It’s on the bottom of everything now, but I am going to move it back asap!

16 Melissa (MISSY MAINTAINS) December 22, 2008 at 4:21 pm

Great advice! I need to become more familiar with Google Blogger so I can make mine more organized!!

17 Andrea [bella eats] December 22, 2008 at 5:02 pm

Great post, Meghann! I totally agree with all of your points…custom header, archive, search, pages tabs…those are all things that I look for on the blogs I read. And the About Andrea page is still the most read on my blog too, I’m still amazed by that!

18 tami December 22, 2008 at 5:16 pm

i found another great home based weight training idea for you
http://www.ifit.com/downloads/ifit_exercise_chart.pdf

19 Angela December 22, 2008 at 5:44 pm

Did I mention I LOVE these posts!!???
Thank you- I agree about everything.

I think the image header is KEY- it is the first thing people see. I spent hours on mine to get it just right and I was really happy with it. Not to say it won’t change at some point though! It can always improve right?

Angela
http://www.ohsheglows.com

20 bobbi December 22, 2008 at 6:16 pm

great tips, I am still learning a lot. How do you put the search widget on your blog?

21 Megan December 22, 2008 at 8:09 pm

Wonderful tips! Thank you so much!

22 ttfn300 December 23, 2008 at 8:43 pm

yes, good post, i have always wanted to know how to do some of the things other bloggers do, but i’m not really designing-your-own-website-saavy. How do you put a search tool for your site?

23 Natalia - a side of simple October 13, 2010 at 11:09 am

Thanks for the awesome tips!

24 Allie October 14, 2010 at 6:28 pm

Thanks for the blogging tips! I got the link from HEAB’s site. I just started a new blog and am working to find what feels best for me. Hopefully I can be as successful as you’ve been!

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