So this past week I launched a new blog design for my blog friend, Kassie. I’ll be featuring it here Wednesday (so come check back!)!! But every single time I launch a new design, I’m giddy. Like first day of school giddy. I LOVE launching new designs for bloggers. There is just something about giving someone something beautiful and fresh that makes my heart go pitter-patter. And it just makes me smile knowing I am capable and able to do something I love. Something I freaking love. I love that the Lord has given me the ability to create! It makes me happy to receive the giddy, “Holy crap! I love it!” emails after launching a design.
Because I am passionate about businesses and blogs having an effective design, I want to share some important things to consider for your blog design and social media. So I am going to share my 5 tips for an effective blog design! And friends, these are 5 things you can implement TODAY.
Tips for An Effective Blog Design
1. Size Matters
In your header…gosh, where was your mind?? ;) Its important that your header does not take up the majority of your view when visiting your blog. My recommendation is for your header to be no taller than 200 px. Even that can feel big, but for most of the designs I do, I never do larger than that (there are some exceptions). The reason for this is that people are lazy. (Eeek, did I just say that?) People don’t want to have to scroll a lot when they come to your site. And if you are looking to work with a blog ad network, many times they require for their advertising to be above the fold. This is just an advertizing term that really applies to newspapers and the fact that ad space “above the fold” of the newspaper is often seen first, so its more valuable. With blogs and websites, “above the fold” is everything you see before you have to scroll. If your header is too large, there leaves less space for ads.
2. Let’s Get Social
People like you. They want to connect with you. So why make it incredibly hard for them to find you on social media? Make your media buttons accessible and available. This means that you have them close to the top of your sidebar, but if you have a footer that you use, put your icons there as well! When someone has scrolled through all your fabulous posts and read your content obsessively, give them the opportunity to connect with you immediately! Its just smart, people.
3. CAPTCHA is NOT Your Friend
I know many bloggers have said this, but I still see it EVERYWHERE, so I will say it again. Turn your comment moderation OFF. You can still make your comments subject to approval. But DON’T make your readers jump through hoops to comment and connect with you. So stop making all of us type in a combo of random characters every time we comment. For two reasons: 1) Its annoying. I mean, lets be honest here. This is a safe space, right? :) I’ve taken the time to write a whole comment. I click submit. The page is starting to look like its reloading to register my comment and then BAM. CAPTCHA. Ugh. So now I have to type in a couple characters to get my comment to show up, but sometimes (more often than I care to even DO) I have to re-type the characters. And like I said above, it can get lazy up in here. And that is just too much effort to put into a couple sentence comment. I know its harsh, but its true. If I am invested in your blog and already love you, I’ll probably take the time. But we’re also looking to grow, right? And new visitors may not be willing to do this.
Okay, reason 2) many people view blogs on phones. Did you know the CAPTCHA sometimes doesn’t load on people’s phones? Maybe even iPads? If I view a blog on anything other than my laptop or computer (i.e. iPhone or iPad), I can’t type in CAPTCHA. It won’t load for me. So it keeps me from commenting. So aside from it being annoying, it can also simply prevent people from commenting at all. I know people who don’t even have a computer to view the post. They view everything on their phone. So be mobile friendly.
4. Color & Fonts
Please don’t use a rainbow of colors and a myriad of fonts in your design. For your blog, never use more than THREE fonts. That means in the header, body, sidebar, etc. For graphics and content. I use up to two fonts in a header design and one font for the content. ALWAYS use a readable font for the body. Something like Arial, Lustria, or some other type friendly font. NO CURSIVE. For post titles, you can do script, but just be careful. Don’t use neon versions of colors, make sure they’re also friendly on the eyes. You want your design to look clean and readable. Don’t make it look like a bag of Skittles barfed on your blog.
5. Save in .PNG
If you have control over this, make sure to save any graphics you will use on your blog in .png format. This file-path is clear and friendly for design. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve visited a blog and the graphics are pixel-y and distorted. It really just devalues the authority and professionalism of your blog. Its not hard. You can do it on Pixlr. But just remember to do it. If you’re designing your own elements, this is an easy way to make sure your graphics are clean.
6. Okay, One More..
Which is ironic because I am going to talk about how less is more. A cleaner, less cluttered look is more appealing than a cluttered one. Don’t have a sidebar full of 35 graphics of your favorite blogs. Its fun and friendly to have that list, but instead, make a link list of Blog Reads. If you have sponsors, only make 10 spots open. This really is just a matter of my own personal opinion, but I just hate sidebars cluttered with a bunch of stuff. It can feel overwhelming to me as a reader and designer. And if you must have many ads and sidebar elements, just do it clean and simple like this blog. But don’t overdo it. Its easy to do.
So there you go. My 5…ahem…6 tips to sprucing up your blog right now. So go clean it up and make it easier for people to love you. :)