Any blogger can have a nice-looking blog design, whether they have design experience or not. Truly.
If I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t have written a For Dummies book. Blog Design for Dummies is geared specifically toward non-designers so it’s not super technical or full of lingo you won’t understand. Even when I tackle the “scary” stuff (aka basic CSS and HTML), it’s explained in a way that makes that little imaginary light bulb pop up above your head. That’s one of the reasons I’ve always been a fan of For Dummies book and was proud to write one of my own (I still credit Puppies for Dummies for helping train our now 10-year-old lab).
Although I’ve talked about the book writing process before, I haven’t actually given you any can-do tidbits of advice from the book yet.
So let me share ten tips from the book with you! Each of these tips is covered in WAY more detail in the book, but you can see the range of design tips this book tackles. Consider these appetizers (calorie-free)!
1. Proximity Matters in Blog Design
Proximity is one of four main principles of design. Placing related content or design elements near one another allows your blog visitor to get to the important parts of your site quickly and efficiently. Think about the inside of your car. Sure would be harder to use your stereo if the controls weren’t all together! And the same thing goes with blog design. Group social media buttons, ways to find content (search, categories, etc) and so on.
2. Create Consistency Throughout Your Blog (a Style Guide Helps!)
From a blog design perspective, inconsistencies can give your blog a sloppy feel, even if your reader can’t quite place exactly why. Creating a style guide gives you an easy way to maintain consistency because your design and content decisions all live in one document. For example, my style guide has the colors I use (listed as RGB and HEX code), fonts I use and even my bio so it’s consistent online, whether it’s for a speaking engagement or a guest post.
3. Showcase Your Voice
Readers see your design before they have time to read the content. However, your blog design should feel like your voice. For example, if your writing it sarcastic and dry, your blog shouldn’t be whimsical or flowery. You can also emphasize voice in your blog design by how you actually format your blog posts. Word choice and sentence structure are part of writing but they are visual, too.
4. Brainstorm Design Ideas with a Mood Board
Wanting to redesign, create a new blog or even just a new section of your site? Try starting with a mood board. A mood board conveys a design idea by mixing textures, words, images, colors, and more. You don’t have to know exactly what your design vision is right from the start. That’s what a mood board is for! Use a mood board as a tool to explore and play with your ideas. You can create a mood board by hand, using Evernote or Pinterest (use a secret board if you don’t want anyone to see it).
5. Pick Out Fonts by Asking Questions
When selecting a font, consider the topics you write about and the voice and tone in your writing. Say you blog about social media. Well, that alone doesn’t help you pick out a font. What voice do you write in? What angle do you take? Nuances like these can help you chose a complementary font.
6. Get Specific with Meta Descriptions
Good navigation within your blog design means fine-tuning things like meta descriptions. A meta description is a short paragraph that search engines use to describe your entire blog, a page, or blog post. When writing them for your posts or pages, keep the description to 150 characters (they can be longer but search engines only show a certain number of characters, then show an ellipsis to note there is more).
7. Showcase Key Content in Your Sidebar Through Images
One way to visually draw attention to a section of your sidebar is through using images. However, this can backfire if the images look too much like ads. Make sure that your images are branded to fit your blog design. When images match your blog’s branding and design, readers can immediately identify images that lead to blog content. Oh My Veggies does an excellent job of this.
8. Make Sure Visitors Find What They’re After
Your blog’s navigation design works like directional signage in a grocery store. Anticipate your visitor’s needs by thinking about your blog like a store, and your blog posts are the products. Ex. Popular and recent posts are like end caps on aisles and displays at the front of the store. Categories are like aisle signage.
9. Save Time Resizing Images
Uploading large images can slow down your blog so you need to shrink large images BEFORE you upload them. You can try a free resizing tool such as Fotosizer. If you use a program like Adobe Photoshop, you can create an Action that will automatically resize images to a size that you select. I have a Photoshop action called Momcomm Resize and I can shrink an entire folder of photos if I need to.
10. Be Careful When Naming Images
If you don’t share certain personal information on your blog – such as kids’ names, your last name, or the city you’re from – leave that out of your filename, too. Otherwise, that information is visible to everyone.
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