Hello everyone, I’m Matt from NetBusinessBlog.com. I’ve been doing web design and development for the last 7 years but have just recently started blogging. Hope you find my content on par with the rest of the articles here, and don’t be afraid to let me know what you think.
The eruption of popularity for blogs came on the heels of the Web 2.0 “revolution”. With this in mind it’s easy to see how blogging has adopted most of the ideas of design which focus on minimalism, the focus on content, user experience, and compatibility. It is something that has been built into blogging from the beginning whether you realize it or not. It is important that you keep these aspects of the new web in the front of your mind when you’re designing your blog.
Focus on Content
Ever heard the saying “content is king”? Well if you haven’t, keep it in mind. Just about every website relies heavily on its content to attract and retain new visitors, but it is even more vital when dealing with blog design. Blogging is centered almost entirely around the content, and you have to make sure that your design does not take away from that.
Your design may take focus off of your content if your header, for example, takes up the entire area above the fold. One of the first things you want visitors to see when they wander into your blog is your delicious content, not a page full of graphics.
If you look at how Darren has setup his header, you’ll see that one of the first things his readers see is links to some of his most read articles. That is a great way to get users engaging in your blog rather than just browsing the main page and leaving. At my blog I like to have a couple of my best recent articles as well as some introduction text up at the top to entice users to dig more through my site.
Many bloggers work so hard getting people to visit their blog that they forget how they’re supposed to treat them when they’re there. Despite the fact that there is usually one author and multiple readers, blogging is not a one-way relationship. You have to engage your readers and get them involved in your blog in order for it to grow. How does this fit into design? Well if your design makes it hard for your readers to interact with you, there is a definite problem. Here are a couple things I’ve found useful:
1) Make your comment link prominent – Many users will know that if they click on a blog post’s header they’ll most likely be taken to a page where they can comment, but believe me when I say not everyone knows this. What people do know, however, is that when they see a big “Comment Here!” box they know where to go and what to do. It also never hurts to include a dialog box icon next to your comments link.
2) Make it easy to contact you – As a blogger, much of your content will be user contributed or at least inspired by your users. You want them to be able to contact you with as little hassle as possible. Not to pick at Darren too much here, but when I tried to contact him for the first time, I admit it took me a good 10 minutes to figure out where his contact page was! I completely glazed over the little link in the sidebar. Luckily for Darren, I’m tenacious.
Overall you want to make it as easy as possible to interact with your users, so always keep user experience in mind when laying out and designing your blog.
There isn’t a whole lot to say about compatibility aside from simply stressing that you need to make sure that your blog is accessible to as many people across as many platforms and browsers as possible. Much of that will fall on the programmer’s end, but the designer can help improve compatibility by using text over graphics as much as possible and laying out the navigation and content so that it is easy to display.
Blogging is part of the Web 2.0 craze, so always be sure to keep the foundations of the new web in mind when designing and laying out your blog!
Read more of Matt’s work at NetBusinessBlog.com