Five Blog Design Tips To Help You Nail That Aesthetic

What does your blog say about you?

Hopefully, only good things and nothing bad behind your back.

For the purpose of this post I’ve asked a web designer (me) for her tips on smashing your blog design and giving your visitors all the good vibes they need to have a good time when they stop by.

TRUST ME, I’M A WEB DESIGNER

No, I actually am. That means, I spend a lot of my time sat behind a computer screen and my eye for creative detail is probably way more critical than it needs to be, but I do know a fair bit about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to design.

First and foremost your blog is an extension of you and there is no hard and fast rule about what works for your blog personality type, just as long as certain bits and pieces are taken into consideration.

So, I’m going to break it down into the main aspects of online design which, if working together in perfect harmony will make your life easier and anyone visiting will love it, too.

The main aspects are:

  1. content (fonts, text)

  2. design (basic structure / layout)

  3. loading speeds (ways to keep them to a minimum)

  4. visuals (colours, placement)

  5. target audience (who is reading)


Content

Don’t let great content drown under bad design.

Not all of us are qualified journalists and on the content front we can only do our best with wording, spelling, grammar etc and the only thing I would say it make sure everything is clear to read.

Image Sizing: Our eyes can only take in so much at any one time. If there’s too much going on in one viewpoint it can overwhelm us. Consider making use of white space tactfully and not overloading your view with large image coverage (remember what I said about our eyes being fickle little things).

Text colour: it’s no coincidence that white backgrounds are commonly found sporting black text online - it just works and makes things easier to read. Bear in mind red, green and pink text can be hard to read. Stick to dark fonts on light background or light fonts on dark backgrounds and natural, neutral colours work wonders for those eyeballs!

Font size: Pick a font size for the body of your content that makes it easy to read across all devices, I usually go for size of 16px for the main body text of my blog posts and 18+ for titles and subtitles. If you want to make it as easy as possible for your visitors to read your posts, avoid teeny, tiny text.

Line height: ensure there’s a reasonable distance between each line of text to make it easier to absorb information - lines which are too close together look ‘bunched up’ and unappealing and users are more likely to move on.

Width of paragraphs: Moving your eyes across one side of the screen to the other makes reading hard work! Shorten the width of your content area so our eyes don’t have to stretch as far.

Of course, we should take into account reading on mobile devices is naturally narrower anyway so that part is already done :)


Design

Don’t let bad design overshadow content.

Our eyes are fickle little round things and here are some ways to keep them happy.

Basic structure / layout: the eye naturally travels from left to right

Keep design simple: the sooner we can get to the content we’re looking for the better because you’ve only got a short window of time + scan readers!

Navigation: The most fundamental part of any blog presence is making sure people know where they are going or what they are doing (something I struggle with in every day life - ha!). Don’t underestimate the power of well structured navigation - if your categories and links are in any way confusing to your reader, they may not have a great time.

The navigation of your site is essential and clearly marked menu’s which take the user from A to B, and from B back to A again if they need to and maybe stopping at C and D along the way are key.

Use of colour: there’s an entire colour spectrum to choose from, but that doesn’t mean we should. Get it wrong and it can look quite amateurish, so be careful (it was fun in the early days of MySpace, though!)

You want to use colour to attract attention towards certain areas of your blog and create a mood or feeling from the user which keeps them coming back, not steering clear. Try picking colours which fit your social ‘theme’ so users can identify and familiarise with you.


Loading speeds

We’ve become unconsciously impatient in our online behaviour and if something isn’t presented to us immediately we aren’t hanging around - we’re off.

Us bloggers spend a lot of time taking our pictures and it’s almost criminal when they don’t load fast enough and you have a half-baked photo which has just given up.

My Sony camera takes very high resolution photos at 6000px and if I upload those to my blog, don’t I know about it! I could be there for hours.

Slow loading times are an enjoyment-killer and I have to remember to drastically resize them to 2000px which doesn’t affect the quality and helps prevent my blog drowning in heavy photographs.

Size matters: if they take forever to upload it usually means they will take forever to download on your blog too.


Audience

When people seek out blogs, there are some crucial things to consider when it comes to retaining them as regular visitors.

  • high quality images, narrower reading columns, natural/neutral use of colour, clean, clear fonts, easy-to-understand navigation, clear contact options

There are also some just-as-crucial things to consider when it comes to repelling them.

  • slow loading images, difficult fonts and text, offensive colours, confusing menu’s and navigation, distracting/interfering banner ads


Visualisation

Banner images: these are great but I prefer images with a reduced width so that the image sits in the centre of the page when you first land on it, it’s just quicker and easier to take in. Banner images can easily becoming distorted and what looks great on desktop won’t necessarily look good on mobile devices.

Image Loading Times: Us bloggers spend a lot of time taking our pictures and it’s almost criminal when they don’t load fast enough and you have a half-baked photo which has just given up.

My Sony camera takes very high resolution photos at 6000px and if I upload those to my blog, don’t I know about it! I could be there for hours.

Slow loading times are an enjoyment-killer and I have to remember to drastically resize them to 2000px which doesn’t affect the quality and helps prevent my blog drowning in heavy photographs.

Size matters: if they take forever to upload it usually means they will take forever to download on your blog too.

Banner Ads

This can be done tastefully. It can also be done annoyingly.

I do have some affiliate links I use from time to time but I can’t bring myself to use flashing ones, I just don’t think it works and only ends up detracting from the main content.

Good to know: consider the placement (often up for debate, this) but I find you can incorporate affiliate banners into the theme or aesthetic of your blog which makes them look like they belong there, rather than looking like they’ve been ‘plonked’ randomly and it can work really well that way.


I hope you enjoyed this post and if you have any questions just let me know in the comments and give it a little ‘like’ below :)