People often say they don’t know art, but they know what they like. Blogs are similar when it comes to design.
People may not be able to quantify what makes a good design, but they sure as heck can tell you what they do and don’t like when they see it.
There are minimalist blogs on the web with barely any color. Some see them and think they’re beautiful. Some look at them and are bored to tears.
Some people like bright colors, while others like neutral.
Some people like giant logos, while others don’t like anything that pushes content down the page.
Some people like Comic Sans, while others like to pray for those poor, misguided individuals.
With so many varied opinions on what makes a good blog design, is there a way to ensure your blog isn’t standing out for the wrong reasons?
Blog Design Tips Guaranteed To Decrease The Number Of Readers Wanting To Hurt You
It doesn’t matter how meticulously you plan and design your blog, someone (or several someones) out there is going to have a problem with some aspect of it.
You can’t please everyone, but abiding by the following blog design tips will at least give you a fighting chance.
As always, your mileage may vary!
I’m not telling you to have no ads on your blog.
True, some people despise them. And there are some bloggers out there who don’t use any advertisements whatsoever.
Good for them.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t use them.
It just means you have to take it easy.
The no-ads-whatsoever hardliners aside, most readers these days are fine with an ad here and there.
Most of us have become numb to ads, to be honest.
What’s the maximum you should have?
My personal opinion is three.
Three or less and you’re not being ad crazy. Your readers might not even notice you have them.
More than three and you run the risk of the ads overwhelming your blog’s content.
More than six ads and you run the risk of one of your readers attempting to throw a trident at you.
2. White Background, Black Text
It’s hard to improve upon a classic.
Ford can keep trying all it wants, but it’s never going to best the 1966 Mustang. The sooner it realizes this, the better for all of us.
Blogs should stick to the classics, too.
Specifically, blogs should stick to black text over a white background.
The combination is sublime.
It’s practically impossible to improve upon.
In short, no one is going to look at a blog with black text on a white background and think:
“Ugh. I just hate the black text and white background.”
When you try to improve upon a classic, you end up with the 1974 Ford Mustang II.
Don’t turn your blog into the 1974 Ford Mustang II.
Stick to black text over a white background.
3. Use Color Sparingly (And Make Sure They Go Together)
Beyond your (hopefully) ample use of white space, you should choose your blog colors carefully.
In general terms, you should have a primary color, an action color and, optionally, “harmonious supporting colors.”
Your primary color is the color you typically want your readers remembering. It’s your brand. It could be the color of your logo or your header.
Harmonious supporting colors are whites, grays and color(s) that go well with your primary color.
Don’t know what colors go well together?
Try using this free Color Scheme Generator.
Your action color is the color you want to jump out at people. The one you want them to pick out from the rest of your design and, yes, want to click.
For Social Triggers, that color is purple.
For Boost Blog Traffic, it’s red.
And for Be A Better Blogger, it’s blue.
All hyperlinks inside my posts are blue. My “Subscribe Now” button at the end of every post is blue. The arrows at the top of the site pointing to my email opt-in are blue.
And know what else is blue?
Pretty much nothing.
In fact, with the exceptions of the blog post images and a few affiliate links, I’ve kept the colors on the site white, grays and black.
I did this so my action color (blue) stands out.
Because the site is primarily white, black and gray; everything that isn’t white, black or gray stands out.
And this was done for a reason.
If your action color (be it blue, orange, red or pink) doesn’t stand out from the rest of your design, or if you use the color for other things that are not clickable, you’re going to frustrate your user to no end.
5. Make Navigation As Simple As Possible
Short of putting yellow or green text over a bright red background, few things will frustrate a blog reader more than a lackluster navigation scheme.
Or, possibly worse, an overly-complicated navigation scheme.
Unless your blog is immensely popular with tons of content, there is simply no reason to give readers dozens of options in your navigation menu.
What options should you have? Well, that depends on you and your readership. But as a general rule, have options for:
Although the current version of my site doesn’t have it, I’m a fan of having a HOME button in your navigation. Even though most users these days know clicking the site’s logo takes you to the homepage, having a clearly marked “Home” link is beneficial if your audience isn’t tech-savvy.
(Speaking of which: Clicking your blog’s logo does take users back to the homepage, right?)
Having an ABOUT page should (hopefully) be obvious. Readers want to know who or what they are reading.
A CONTACT page is important, too. (If not in your primary navigation menu, be sure to include it in your footer.)
No, you don’t have to provide an email address. But at least provide a link to your Twitter or Google+ profile.
6. Don’t Turn “Finding Your Search Bar Or Social Icons” Into A Scavenger Hunt
Few things are as annoying as discovering a blog you like, wanting to add its owner to one of your social circles, and not being able to find links or buttons to them anywhere on the blog.
If you aren’t active on Twitter, obviously you don’t have to showcase a link to your Twitter on your blog. Ditto Facebook. Ditto Google+. Ditto Pinterest.
But if you have an account, and you’re active, let your readers be able to easily find you somewhere on your blog.
If not on the sidebar, at least add your social profiles to your ABOUT page or footer.
The same goes for search bars.
Blogs should have a way for readers to search through their content. And said way should be easy for them to find.
Top of your site or top of your sidebar are the ideal locations to place your search bar. If you’re feeling especially giving, add a second search bar to your footer.
In short: Someone who wants to search through your content is an engaged reader. Let them engage.
BONUS: 7. Make Your Blog Mobile Friendly
Have you ever tried to read a post on your mobile device, only to discover the blog isn’t mobile friendly?
Stinks, doesn’t it?
We live in a different age now where more and more people are browsing blogs on tablets and smartphones.
So, just because your blog looks awesome on a desktop doesn’t mean it’s going to look awesome on a tablet. And it certainly doesn’t mean it’s going to look awesome on a smartphone.
Don’t know if your blog is mobile friendly (and don’t own a smartphone or tablet so you can check)?
In addition to testing your blog’s SEO and speed, it will show you how it looks on tablets and smartphones.
Okay, So Maybe I’m Exaggerating A Tiny Bit
Readers won’t want to actually hurt you if you don’t follow these tips. And they won’t literally pull their hair out.
But you know what they will do?
They’ll leave your site and never return.
And that, my friends, can hurt worse than any kick to the shin.