When it comes to designing your blog's layout, simplicity is key – especially if you're a beginner.
Your overall blog design should be kept simple and clean. Content should always be the main focus of your blog, but having a clean design layout is important. Your goal should be to make it easy for your reader to navigate your site, and find the content they want to read or see.
There are lots of great articles on ProBlogger about design (and a great on here on IFB about color combinations), 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?
But you can easily sabotage your readers' ability to navigate and find what they're looking for with a cluttered, distracting blog design. Here on IFB, we've rounded up 6 simple blog design tips that can benefit bloggers of all levels. Check them out below and let us know your thoughts in the comments.
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 (ex. Into The Gloss), but the right images can be fun as well. 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.
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? Let us know in the comments below.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published on June 21st, 2013 by Grechen Reiter. It was updated on December 26th, 2017 by Laura Kell.