6 Simple Design Tweaks to Make Your Blog Better

designtweaks

Simple is the key here – not only are these tweaks simple, but your overall blog design should be simple too: the simpler, the cleaner, the better. Your goal is to make it easy to navigate your site and for a reader to find what they're looking for quickly (think about all your search engine visitors) – content should be the main focus of your blog, NOT the design.

There are lots of great articles on ProBlogger about this, but one in particular said that among other things, you should design your blog to make these things clear to the reader:

Where am I?
Where should I begin?
What is the most important thing on this page?

Simple, right? But you can easily sabotage your readers' ability to navigate and find what they're looking for with a cluttered, distracting blog design. Easily fixable – just:

Make Sure Your Header is Simple

Your blog's header is the first thing a new reader sees, so make it good!! I personally prefer simple font-based or typography headers with the blog's name in them (LOVE into the gloss'), but the right image(s) can be fun too (like Man Repeller's). Also, don't make them too tall so they take up valuable real estate at the top of your page – you should be able to see your first post title and some content before the fold.

Use Full Width Images

If you post outfit pictures, collages, or any images on your blog, they should ideally be the full width of your content column. And hopefully it goes without saying that all your images should be THE SAME WIDTH πŸ˜‰ Uniformity is key to simple blog design; you want the eye to flow easily over images (although there shouldn't be too many).

Use a Blog Design with One Sidebar

I really find that blogs with a main content column and one sidebar are more clean-looking and appealing. They're also easier to read; your eyes aren't “confused” about where to go, they naturally go first to the widest column where your content is. Interestingly, eye tracking studies show that readers generally view pages in an “F” pattern – first horizontally across the top, then down a bit and across, then vertically down the left side of the page. If you look through some of the images in the studies, a left sidebar generally gets left out of what the reader looks at altogether because the eye goes first to the content. So why have it?

Make Sure You Have Content Before the Fold

Generally readers focus most of their attention above the fold (how often do YOU scroll down?), and sometimes don't' even go further to see what else is on your page, or even finish your article, so make sure a reader can get the main idea of your first post before having to touch their mouse. Repeat visitors and engaged readers will usually scroll down, but readers who come from search engines want to find what they were looking for quickly without scrolling down, so make sure they can. (Analyze your stats to see which pages get the most search engine traffic, then make sure key information is at the top of those posts.)

Place the Most Important Information at the Top

This advice follows from the previous, but it's worth an extra look. Did you know that your about page is the second thing people look for when they get to your blog? Make sure the link to your about page is prominent, and if you have a widget in your sidebar with a photo and some “about” text, make sure it's near the top of your pages. Also, place your social buttons near the top of your pages, as well as your navigation bar.

Use a White/Light background

Too much contrast on your pages make them difficult to read – stick with a white or very light background for your page and ALWAYS a white background for your content areas.

How have you tweaked your blog design to make it better? Any other tips?

[Image Credit: Shutterstock.com]

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33 Responses

  1. Nasreen

    Really great tips! That point about eye-tracking is really interesting, going to read the article now. I have a simple header, everything’s black and white with a hint of colour but what I find hard is to translate my personality to the page. I don’t want it to look like everyone else’s but I don’t want to make the page very busy looking either. I feel like it’s just so plain right now.

    If anyone has tips, I’d greatly appreciate it!
    http://lazyobsession.blogspot.com

    Reply
    • Grechen Reiter

      your header is good! maybe add a little color? but otherwise, your site is great, very clean πŸ™‚

      Reply
      • Nasreen

        Thanks Grechen! I think you’re right, a little bit more colour is what I need πŸ™‚

    • Danielle

      Your blog is amazing!!!! The header is perfect,I viewed it in mobile so the background was white but your post are top notch❀

      Reply
    • Grechen Reiter

      Melissa – you don’t have to use sidebars at all, i do think they help organize all the “extra” stuff though.

      Reply
  2. Andra Dorolti

    I think I follow most of the rules!
    However, I like to start a post with a photo, before I write something… what you said got me thinking… maybe I’ll change that πŸ™‚ But even so.. I feel that some people will just not read, anything at all.. no matter where you write..or how much you write.. Depends on what everybody looks for, I guess…

    thank you for the tips!

    Reply
  3. Juliana

    I really loved this post! I’ve been fiddling around with my layout lately because I knew I wanted to change something, but wasn’t very sure what to change. I loved this post because the tips were really helpful and helped me narrow down what I should change, but if anyone has any suggestions, I’d really appreciate it!

    – Juliana
    Coco and Picasso

    Reply
  4. Laura Neuzeth

    Great article! I have to agree, simplicity is very crucial in a blog. When I see a blog that is very cluttered or colorful I tend not to read it. I just like to be able to read it easily and too many colors can be distracting from the text.

    Reply
  5. choolee

    i think i hit most of this tips…
    do you guys think i should add some more stff in my sidebar? or filled enough?

    chicchoolee.blogspot.co.at

    Reply
  6. Tavoya

    These are great tips. I have taken the strategy of following the formula of top fashion magazines and Retailers sites that I like. I’ve learned there is a reason I love these sites and it is their ease of readability and ease of navigation.

    http://www.haute30.blogspot.com

    Reply
  7. Meg

    Thanks for another great post, Gretchen.

    I was triumphant when I figured out how to add custom social media icons — I felt like they really pulled the colors of my blog together and helped create a custom look.

    I used the icons and code instructions from here:
    http://mammasaurus.co.uk/free-turquoise-teal-social-media-icon-set-2/
    (I changed the color of the icons in Paint to fit my blog. Also, there are a few teensy errors in the code — watch the closed quotes after height=. Otherwise, mammasaurus is awesome for providing this stuff!)

    I customized some of the fonts, too, and I noticed my headline font is definitely a lot bolder than some of the more minimal style blogs you see out there. Any input on the choice/size of the font?

    http://www.treasurefull.com.

    Many thanks, as always,
    Meg

    Reply
  8. Kendall with Sex and the Suburb

    We recently gave our site a mini-makeover so it’s great to see some of the changes we made on the list of things to-do. Some of the list we have always been doing but it was fun to play around with our site to give it a new look and the ‘relaunch’ has been a lot of fun.

    I’m sure everyone is very busy but any feedback would be greatly appreciated! Love it or hate it? πŸ™‚

    Cheers,
    Kendall
    http://sexandthesuburb.com/ (I don’t usually leave my site since I read not to previously on IFB but this time it seems right to haha)

    Reply
  9. Odette

    I agree with all of these tips the only thing I haven’t done is place the most important information at the top, but I will get to it, as I’m redesigning my blog.

    O so inspired

    Reply
  10. Olive

    I love this post, it’s so interesting how making a few slight adjustments can make your blog look so much more visually pleasing.

    I must say though, I disagree with images having to be the same width as the content. For landscape images, yes, absolutely, but for images in portrait format it’s just too much. This usually makes them so big that I can’t see the whole picture on my screen at once and I have to scroll down to see the rest. Personally I find it annoying and disproportionate.

    Reply
    • Ashley "Ashe" Robison

      Olive, I typically feel the same! What I do is (in photoshop), merge two portrait images into 1 jpeg. This way they’re still the same width, but aren’t disproportionate either! So best of both worlds. (That’s just how I personally cope with keeping them all the same width while not having a MASSIVE portrait.)

      Reply
  11. Shermaine

    great tips how can make my blog better ?
    beautycaboodle.blogspot.com

    Reply