No matter what kind of blog you write, you are presenting a piece of yourself to the world. Homeschool blogging is very personal and as such, your blog should look and feel like an extension of you. But, sometimes we have a hard time figuring out how to take our lives and present them online via graphic design in a way that doesn’t look like a jumbled mess.
When readers and advertisers first visit my blog, I want them to see the same things, but I also want them to see different things. I want them both to see a well-ordered, inviting site. However, I want readers to see a sense of community and Christ-honoring encouragement, while I want potential advertisers to see a sense of professionalism and commitment. Even though readers and advertisers are looking for two different things from my blog, my blog design can create both atmospheres.
Here are some ideas for creating a great blog design:
1. Know who you are and what you want your blog to be. Your blog is your home on the web. It speaks volumes of who you are, so you do not want it to be haphazard and difficult to understand. Before you ever hire a designer or begin designing your blog yourself, take time to line out things like:
- Favorite colors
- favorite fonts
- other favorite blog designs and why they are your favorites
- a mission or vision statement for your blog
2. Avoid sterile. Avoid clutter. A stark blog isn’t any better than a cluttered blog when it comes to attracting readers. The best thing to keep in mind when working on a blog design is CLEAN LINES. Keep things neat and tidy and easy to look at. If you find you are having a difficult time seeing your blog with an objective eye, ask a friend or other blogger to analyze it for you. Some suggestions might be:
- Make your fonts and colors match and compliment – try looking at complimentary color schemes on the web and analyzing some of your favorite sites.
- Keep ads uniform and unobtrusive.
- Make your navigation/menu bar easy to navigate – choose just a few categories that really sum up your blog (another place where a mission statement would be extremely helpful!). You can create subcategories or subpages from there.
- Avoid so many extras you can’t see the proverbial forest for the trees – If you have swirly fonts, a busy background and header, and smatterings of embellishments all over your blog, you may overwhelm readers. Your design should be complimentary to the content of your blog and not the main attraction.
3. Keep like with like. One of the biggest mistakes I see new bloggers make in blog design is disorganization. If you already have your blog set up, take a look at it now and make note of all the different kinds of sidebar items you have. Do you have your social media icons all in the same place? Are all the ways to subscribe and follow your blog including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and others, in one location? If you have links to other sites, are they all in the same area? Do you have a listing of popular posts? Are they near your blog categories?
It’s all about navigation. The easier your site is to navigate, the more likely readers are to stick around.
4. Make it easy to follow your blog. It should be easy to find ways to subscribe, follow, and like your blog. Put these things near the top and as mentioned in #3, in the same general area.
5. Your designer isn’t the boss, but she does know what she’s doing. If you hire a designer, hire a good one that comes well-recommended. Look at her portfolio and talk to her clients. Your designer will often ask you preliminary questions about what you want for your site. Here’s where the suggestions from #1 will come in handy.
From there, your designer will start throwing out ideas and designs. Remember, you are always in charge and can say no to something you do not like. However, be respectful of her designs and be open to her advice.
When designing Homeschool Blogging, I thought I knew exactly how the header should look; however, Honey from Honeycomb Design Studio (outstanding to work with, by the way!) suggested it was missing something. At first, I wasn’t so sure about the suggestions she made; however, as I thought about it more, I realized she was absolutely right and what you see now is a direct reflection of her expertise as a designer.
6. A great design is worth the money. I am a horrible blog designer. I have had a do-it-yourself blog design and people still read my blog, but when I hired a professional designer, I saw exponential growth in readership and started attracting advertisers as well. Yes, it is hard to part with the money for a professional blog design, but you will see the benefits of it almost immediately as readers and advertisers alike take you more seriously based on what they see.
Have your own tips for creating a great blog design? Leave them in the comments section!