Content for a blog is the same as a product for a company — it takes more than just a high quality product for the customers to flock to it. You need to present that content in a package that fits your branding.
All blogs have certain visual features in common, no matter how you change the theme or appearance. Blogs are a part of a brand’s overall message, whether you are just a blogger or part of a larger organization’s site. Here are some do’s and don’ts that I have picked up along the way.
What are you about?:
Do you have an About Us page? What is it saying about yourself or your authors? Do you have a nice photo to go with your text? This is the place for new visitors to go and get an idea and or some background on what it is your blog and its contributors are all about.
Don’t make it look drastically different:
Keep it simple and consistent. Having a blog design that is extremely different from the style and branding of your main website could be disorienting to visitors and cause them to make a hasty retreat. The same goes for redesigning it all the time. Consider the blog as a part of the whole and not an entity onto itself. Throwing in a new color or design element that is not needed could clutter up the layout and add to visual chaos. Reviewing your blog at times for these extra elements can be a good idea and allow you to tighten up the design.
Embrace white space:
The spacing between elements on a page is considered white space. This space can add to readability and the lightness of a page.
Do play above the fold:
Keep important information like RSS subscribe buttons, contact email and various calls to action on the top half of the page when it loads in a browser window.
Do use visual interest:
Don’t forget about usability:
Ask some friends or coworkers to explore the blog and listen to what they have to say. You may have been too subjective in the design phase and overlooked things. Check the blog in multiple browsers because each one may display things differently.
Do put it on a sub-directory if you can:
If you intend to sell goods or services from your site, putting your blog into a sub-directory has certain advantages. Your main page can then be freed to advertise your products or services and link to your shopping cart. From that page, you can still have a link to your blog (e.g., domain.com/blog). Any links your blog attracts will benefit the overall domain vs. if you were to have your blog on a separate website entirely (e.g., myblog.wordpress.com).
Integrating social profiles:
Integrating Facebook, Twitter and other social profiles into your blog is a great way to get extra exposure, whether you cross-promote your blog content on those social pages or supplement it with additional content. Check out Tim Marsh’s great technical read, Dummies Guide to Integrating Facebook into WordPress.
Do encourage comments:
Blogs can be the best way to establish a conversation. Make sure, if this is your goal, to make dialogue easy and rewarding for visitors. Reply to good or interesting comments as much as possible. Don’t just give the readers an impression that you care about their views, really care and learn from them all. By doing this you create a richer, more active community and this will be noticed.
These do’s and don’ts are simply suggestions to help your blog design/techniques become a success and flourish. What other ideas or tips would you suggest? Share in the comments or tweet at 10e20 with your response, and don’t forget to subscribe to our RSS feed for more great blog posts and tips!