The Design of your Blog

This weekend an unexpected trip out of town without my laptop saw to it that my post didn’t make it from notebook to WordPress until now, and reminded me why I need to have back up posts scheduled here. But today, although having a back up plan is important, I’d like to talk to you about the design of your blog.

Blog design is incredibly important. You want your design to draw people in and to make them want to come back. Think of your blog like an online writing profile: you want it to look friendly and professional but still true to yourself.

Clashing colours, distracting background images and unusual fonts that don’t read well across all browsers can all keep people from coming back to your website. Many colour combinations hurt the eyes, particularly on the computer screen, and it’s important to find something that won’t strain your readers.

It varies from niche to niche, but what’s usually recommended is a white background with black text and only a few graphics on the page. It’s important not to clutter the page and make stuff hard to find. It’s also important to make sure it’s easy to read.

Today I’d like you to do some research. Look at the most popular blogs in your niche and evaluate their layouts. Answer the following questions about each blog you look at:

  • What are the most prominent colours?
  • How many graphics are there on the sidebars?
  • Is it easy to find everything?
  • What font is used?
  • How large are the images on the site?
  • What about this blog works for you?
  • What about this blog doesn’t work for you?

Once you’ve figured out what elements of design make you want to come back to any given blog, create a mind map and display all the elements you might like to have on your blog. Bear in mind that you can list anything you can daydream of, but if it’s a design tactic used rarely in your niche, it might turn people off rather than excite them. Your ultimate goal is to have a blog layout that stands out from the others in your niche, but not in a way that turns readers off or confuses them about the topic.

For example, if you’re writing a blog focused strictly on fantasy writing and mythology, you might not want the solar system for your background–but if your blog is where you plan on sharing your science fiction stories, it’s a great idea. Often the best background picture is no background picture, but if you can find something that’s not too distracting and that works with your topic, use it to your advantage.

Once you’ve created your mind map, cross out all the elements you think wouldn’t fit well with your blog’s intended topic and feel. Don’t start creating it right away. First, spend this week deciding if you’re going to code it yourself, use a pre-made template for your blogging software, or pay someone else to design it. Give yourself time to consider all the options and do some research into website design services. And while you’re weighing the options, try to keep writing one back up blog post per day so you’ll have even more by the time you get started.

Next week we’re going to discuss creating a detailed marketing plan for your blog. In the mean time, get cracking on those blog posts.