Get on blogging, chapter 4 – It's all about the looks

17.07.2014 · 6 min read

Get on blogging, chapter 4 – It's all about the looks -- the tasselflower blog

Get on blogging is a weekly series about blogging and becoming a blogger. In this chapter I will talk about the design and looks of your blog. Are images important? How can you make your blog look better? Are the looks the first priority of your blogging efforts?

When you get on blogging one of the things you are likely to do is to choose the theme and perhaps add a blog banner, other branding images and elements, choose colours and then some. It can be fun and it can be really awful to try and get the blog look as great as possible. However, especially when you are just beginning with your blogging, it's good to remember that getting too deep in with the design will turn you away from the actual task at hand, blogging. Always remember: The content is the most important part of your blog. Without the content there's no blog. That's why it's more important for you to make sure the content works and only after that think about the looks. It doesn't matter how pretty your blog is if the content doesn't keep the people coming back. The first impression does matter though. Most of us are using web pretty fast: We jump from a page to another and if it doesn't immediately look interesting, pretty or otherwise promising there's no point or time to stick around. My main advice is not to get too deep in with the looks and be more concerned about the content.

Images

Images have gained lots of importance due to the success of image heavy blogs and services such as Pinterest. Visual web is one of those buzz terms you probably have heard and it has pretty much everything to do with images (and videos). However your blog should be about much more than just images, if it's not an image or photoblog. Don't just slap images on your blog without thinking why you are using them. Use them to enhance the content in a way or another, to make it more memorable and help your readers. A thousand words is worth much more than a picture. Yes, you read it right, I wrote it right. That's the way it is. Keep in mind that each image you post on your blog will slow the blog down. More and more people are browsing your blog with their mobile devices on the road. Their connections aren't great and the devices have limited capabilities. Thus too many images will be a problem and turn many possible readers away. As well as your images can help your first impression they can also ruin it. Religious images will chase the non-religious ones away, child photos will scare those who aren't interested in family stuff and photos of flowers are poison for the very serious design types, to mention some usual examples.

When you do need photos or other images for your blog, don't just google for them or take pics from Pinterest. Use legitimate sources. You can find lots of public domain photos and other free images on web without resorting to stealing and getting in trouble for it. And if you are really crafty you can take your own photos or draw your own images.

Details

Besides images the colours, fonts and other elements will make the complete look of your blog. Little details from how the texts are positioned, use of white space, paragraphs, sub-heading and other text related choices are also helping to create the look of your blog. Using small text size used to be the professional, good look, but in time it was realised that bigger text is better and more readable. I also keep seeing blogs that have centred text blocks. That looks awful and is terrible to read. Details like this don't only make the first look for your blog, they also affect on how easy your blog is to read. Easier is always better.

There are plenty of posts about colour theory so I'm not going in the psychology of colours. I'll give you a couple of pointers though: Never use blue as a text colour unless the text is a link. Because blue as historically been the colour of links, any blue text will look like a link and will frustrate some people who will be trying to click the text without success (same thing with underlining, be careful with it, since it suggests a link). Make sure there's enough contrast between text colour(s) and the background. People with colour blindness, diminished sight or some sort of sight related problems will find it really hard to try and read light coloured text against a white background, dark coloured against a dark background and so forth. Think about what the colours tell about you and your blog to your readers.

Adding fonts on websites has became really easy lately for instance through Google Fonts. Fonts are a great way to add interest on your blog design but as with images loading all the different font faces will slow your site down. Thus it's a good idea to keep the number of fonts in minimum. Google Fonts for example has a little page load time impact indicator which shows how much each style of the font affect the page weight. Besides the fonts the font styles and sizes are also a good way to add interest on the design. Too much is too much, but a little variation makes the looks great and can even help the readability.

Brand it, adjust it

What each of us thinks as beautiful or good looking varies. Your blog doesn't need to look flashy to get the hold on the readers. It just must look clean and crisp enough not to turn them away. Easy? No, unfortunately it's not that easy. But the good thing is that you can always adjust the looks on the way through blogging. Especially if you are on a budget and only beginning you might want to start with something very simple and affordable. The platform you chose for your blog will dictate the look of it. For instance hosted services have often a limited selection of (free) themes for you to choose. On a self hosted blog you have more options. Unless you are familiar with HTML, CSS, PHP, JavaScript, designing for web and then some you will need to look for ready made themes, paid or free ones. Both Drupal and WordPress have good selections of free themes for your blog and they can very often be easily customised. Of course you also have the option of ordering a completely custom tailored theme for your blog. This option is for you if you are heavily invested in your blogging and really want to get your blog to stand out.

There are many very popular design trends and because some looks have proved to be very successful many blogs now look the same. That's why I recommend not looking at too many other blogs for an example and not trying to do the same thing as that other blogger did. What worked for their blog is not going to work for yours. In case you aren't completely sure where you want to take your blog I recommend testing and adjusting on the way. This means that you will start with something simple and then in time test what seems to work best. What sort of colours are working for your target groups? Which fonts are doing the trick, do your readers prefer content with images or without them and what kind of blogs they find attractive? Testing takes time and effort but it's the best way to work out which looks are the best. There's no such thing as one perfect look and layout for your blog. The design trends and techniques change and evolve thus what worked last year may not work this year any longer.

Next week Get on blogging deals with marketing your content. Where can you share your blog and it's content? How often should you Tweet about the new post? Do you need to have a Facebook page for your blog? What other options are there?

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Mervi's picture

Hei, I'm Mervi!

I'm an artist and Online Presence Strategist devoted to help you gain the right kind of attention.

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