Myth #5: Blog Design Doesn't Matter
When I started up my blog, I was under the impression that as long as I had hilarious stories to share, the rest didn't really matter too much. While good content is the most important thing a blogger should focus on, it's nice to be aware of other ways to please your readers.
You have only so many seconds to capture a new visitor before he or she decides whether to stay and click around or to move on to the next site. Being mindful of reader turn-offs can help you present your material in the most flattering light.
1. Basic Blog Layout
If your blog is hosted by Blogger, there are dozens of basic templates for you to choose from. Most bloggers use the format with the blog posts on the left side of the screen and other links and information on the right, since our eyes naturally go from left to right when we read.
By clicking on the "Design" tab in your Blogger Dashboard, you can add and rearrange various widgets for your sidebar (Followers, Archives, Search Button, etc.)
It's important to look at your blog keeping a new reader in mind. Will he or she be more interested in your Blog Roll or finding out if you have a Facebook page? Think about that as you move those buttons and widgets around.
2. Basic Blog Design
- Basic Design Upgrade
One of the other nice things about Blogger is that by clicking on the "Design" tag in your Blogger Dashboard and then "Template Designer," you can change the colors of your basic blog, the fonts, and the number of columns.
But the problem with editing your blog design with Blogger is that it still has that basic "beginner" look about it. You want to stand out; you want to capture your readers' attention!
- Simple and Free Upgrades
The easiest and least expensive way to change things up is to visit a site that offers free blog background templates. The Cutest Blog on the Block, Shabby Blogs, and My Style Backgrounds are a few that I am familiar with.
Yes, chances are that someone else out there has the same background that you chose, but you can take it step further by designing your own header in Picasa, Scrapblog, or Photoshop. I made this one to go with my old template that I found for free on The Cutest Blog on the Block:
Certainly not professionally done, but for a girl who was just starting out, it wasn't bad. Readers seemed to love the mix of fonts in the tagline.
- Custom Blog Design
A blog designer will listen to your concerns, your likes and dislikes, and come up with a plan of action. My main designer is Lauren from Designer Blogs. I always appreciate how Lauren is willing to revise designs for me until I am satisfied. With my thoughts on a move to WordPress, Lauren will be my go-to girl. Kim from 733 Custom Blog Design is also fabulous with a quick turn-around on orders and replies to questions. She made many of the buttons on my site.
Do some research before you choose a blog designer. I spent several months perusing blogs and making notes on features I liked. Now that styles have changed, I'm considering another redesign...you have to be flexible and go with the flow!
3. Easy on the Eyes
Don't make your readers work to read your posts or scan your blog.
- Background and Text Colors
If growing your readership is your goal, then pause to evaluate how your sidebar and footer are laid out. If you are able, consider adding pages to your header for contact info., top posts, a blog roll, etc. Anything to streamline your site and make it accessible for your audience!
- Music to Your Ears?
For 99% of readers, background music is distracting and startling.
4. Make Interaction Easy
- Word Verification
- Can they reach you?
Think about having some contact buttons (email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) added to your blog under your profile, or learn how to make some for yourself. There are tutorials all over the web!
What things are important to you when it comes to a great blog design?
*Please keep my five year old, Natalie, in your prayers today. She's having surgery this morning to remove a cyst on her ear. This is her first time to go under anesthesia, and I'm a nervous mommy!* (Update: Home from the hospital, and she seems to be doing great so far! Thank you for the prayers and kind thoughts and comments!)