This week, I’m delighted to introduce a guest blog by the multi-talented designer, virtual assistant and business coach, Chichi Eruchalu of Kanso Creative. In this blog, Chichi looks at five key areas you should focus on when designing your blog to make it more appealing to visitors. I hope you enjoy it. Emma x
While I believe that having good content is a sure-fire way to make your blog stand out (and Emma can help you with that), having a blog that looks good is also very important. As a designer, I am always on the lookout for well designed blogs and websites.
How many times have you visited a new blog and been wowed by its simplicity, colour coordination and general great design, and stuck around to find out more? Or, the opposite, visited a site where you found it difficult to navigate, the colours too garish and were chased away by music? I’m sure you weren’t in a hurry to go back!
You only get once chance to make a first impression and your blog is no different. Think of your blog design as your face. You want a face that you can be proud of, right?
Having a good design makes your blog attractive, professional and welcoming. Here are five areas for you to review to see how your blog measures up:
Designing your blog focus #1 – Header
Your header sets the tone for your blog. It often includes your blog or business name and, in a world of first impressions, is very important. This is the first thing that people are drawn to when they visit your blog and gives an indication to the reader about what the rest of the site is about. Are you a creative business? Your header should be creative and fun. Are you are more serious business? Then your header should reflect that. A poorly designed header can put a reader off even if your content is very good.
ACTION: Take a look at your blog header with fresh eyes. Do it reflect the content of your blog and the message you want to put across? How much vertical space does it take up? A well designed header should not be more than 150px to 250px high (the width is blog determined). If it is taller than this, think about including other features within it, such as social media icons or a search bar.
Designing your blog focus #2 – Fonts and Colours
Choosing fonts that are easy to read is essential for a good reader experience; this also includes the the colours you use. Difficult to read fonts make it a challenge for readers and will often stop them coming back. There are some fonts which look good in design but for general text do not work very well, so my advice would always be to keep it simple.
Some fonts which work well from a readability perspective, and also visibility across computers and browsers, are: Arial, Century Gothic, Helvetica, Verdana, Times New Roman, Georgia, Calibri, Candara, Trebuchet, Lucida Sans, Courier New and Tahoma.
Choose two fonts to work with on your blog – one for headings and titles and another for body text – as too many fonts can look messy.
The colour scheme of your blog is entirely up to you and will most often reflect your brand. Try to choose a colour palette of around three complementary colours which can be used for headings, body text and links. When choosing text colours, be mindful of colours that are difficult to see e.g. anything very bright.
ACTION: Are my blog fonts readable? Are my colours complementary and easy to see?
Designing your blog focus #3 – Navigation (categories and tags)
How easy is it for people to find their way around your blog? Can readers easily access your pages? If the answer is no, one simple way of helping them to do this is to have a navigation bar. As a minimum, this should include links to your home page, your about page and your contact page. As your blog evolves, you may choose to include more links in your navigation bar.
In addition to your navigation bar, good use of your blog categories/tags is another way to help people find posts. Be mindful not to have too many categories and regularly review them.
ACTION: Does your navigation bar include links to HOME, ABOUT and CONTACT? Have you reviewed your blog categories recently? Are they still relevant and up to date?
Designing your blog focus #4 – Space is good
Blogs that are too cluttered, have crazy backgrounds, music, too many sidebar widgets and too many adverts can make the experience for the reader very overwhelming and distracting. Your sidebar is not necessarily where you want to direct people, as you want them to read your content (unless you have advertisers), but when they do visit there it should only really contain relevant and helpful information.
My recommendation is that you should have no more than four widgets in your sidebar.
Good widgets to have include social media icons, newsletter sign up, Facebook like box, recent posts or categories.
Sidebar widgets that aren’t needed include counters, meta (WordPress sites) and blog authors.
ACTION: How many widgets do you have in your sidebar? More than four? Are they all still necessary? Do a quick review and remove the ones that you no longer need.
Designing your blog focus #5 – Pictures Pictures Pictures
They say a picture tells a thousand words and, if that is the case, your blog needs to include them. Personally, I always like to include a picture in every post to break up the text. I also include a picture in my ‘About’ page.
Make sure that you choose pictures that are for ‘Commercial use’ if you are business and, whether business or personal, ensure that you give credit where credit it due.
ACTION: How are you using pictures in your blog? Do you need more?
I hope you find these five points helpful in creating a well designed blog. If you have any questions or need helping designing your blog, feel free to get in touch with me, Chichi, at Kanso Creative.