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On Making Your Blog Design Work For You

Posted By Darren Rowse 18th of May 2008 Blog Design 0 Comments

I’m doing most of my linking out to the great posts that I read over on Twitter these days but today a post by Chris Brogan got my attention that I’d particularly like to highlight. You can read it at:

Make Your Blog Design Work For You

What I like about the post is the intentionality that Chris emphasizes in his post. He starts the post with the key in my mind:

“Everything I’ve done with my blog design is intentional.”

He goes on to emphasize that everything on your blog needs to come back to the goals you have with your blog.

I think this is really important to get your head around. I’ve chatted to many bloggers who get sucked into designing their blogs to be ‘cool’ or ‘look great’ – but who fail to consider how their blog’s design takes them closer to reaching their goals as a blogger.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  • zs

    Good points all. I especially liked: “What’s the goal of your blog? Does your design serve that goal?”

    I think there may be a lesson in there for the many of us that have a goal of monetizing the site – don’t overload it with ads, and if you do Chris recommends keeping them “tasteful and unobtrusive.”

    I am just now starting to introduce ads and trying my best to keep the ads to a minimum, relevant (through AdSense) and unobtrusive. Certainly a challenge to balance all three.

  • That was a fantastic read from Chris.

    I know all too well how easy it is to get trapped in the hole of thinking your design is simply intended to look good. When I redesigned my blog, I went through three different designs until I realised that I need to focus on a design that helps me to achieve my goals, rather than a design that simply looks appealing.

    In the end, I went with a less eye-candy design (albeit still quite nice) in favour of a design that improves the page views per visit of my readers, promotes comments, and defines a funnel for my visitors to travel through to get them to where I wanted them to be on my site. Since I launched the new design, I couldn’t have asked for better results. I instantly saw improvements compared to the old design.

  • That was a good article, I think it should be the case if you are at all interested in the progress of your blog. I struggle with design elements and balance what I want to include and not with how much time I have to work on everything.

    In my case, splitting up topics into different domains and blogs was one design element I chose to be able to target my readers more effectively. Not everyone who is reading about my personal day wants to know how best to sell an item on ebay, and that person may not want to know what my church did today in their service, so much like you have done here, I try to parse out my topics.

    If it isn’t done on purpose, it will reflect on your blog as if it was done on purpose, or something like that.

  • Ironically, the easiest to read blogs are not always the prettiest.

    In terms of distraction free readability: TechCrunch and MCutts blogs are the most easy on the eyes.

    In terms of coolness and beauty – there are so many gorgeous designs – but sometimes your mind drifts off the topic

  • Aside from a couple of minor tweaks that I’m unable to do either because of platform limitations or skill deficiencies, my blog is specifically designed to suit our needs & preferences.

    Primarily, this is reflected in the single-column layout which I chose because it keeps the clutter out and the focus on the content. Of course, it’s easy to do so when I have no intention of using the site for income and thus need no ads or widgets.

    The other main design choice was to integrate the blog portion as tightly & seamlessly with the other pages of the site as possible. And for the most part, I think I’ve succeeded in making the transition from the dynamic, Blogger-generated pages to the static, hand-coded pages pretty smooth. I’m hopeful that our readers aren’t able to notice when they go from one to the other (and back).

  • It was a great article but there’s a note:
    having a pretty blog factor should join to having good posts on it. Each of these can help a blog improve seperately and without each, a blog won’t improve as it should do.

  • That was a great post from Chris :) Thanks for sharing that Darren.

  • It is a timely post as I am considering paying for a new layout. I need a new layout badly, as my current one is temporary and limits me in what I want to do with it.

    In particular I was struck by the thin headline (it’s a good point that I’ve never actively considered) and the adds – I do want to be selling my own products one day but I’m not up for it yet. I need money to help run my site, however, so I think I’ll stick with advertising for now.

  • In terms of ease of readability – you can’t beat Techcrunch or M Cutts blog

  • Looking at the comments that my blog (Winning Everyone) has received for the latest entry that my friend had posted up today, the readers might be more attracted to the design at the first sight. :)

    It’s all planned up early during the birth of the site to get it to be easily readable with the 2 columns layout, and while the bulk of the design is up, I’d add or tweak the design to beautify the site in other areas (eg: header, sidebar, or the menubar).

    Glad that it worked pretty well for my site!

  • Darren, it is odd in the timing of this post. I have been pondering the yin and yang between form and function… probably more from a business and technology focus, but nonetheless a similar concept:

    I must say I enjoy reading the many posts on how to make slight improvements towards an overall goal of making the best blog possible. I must admit I do not intend to make a 6 figure income doing this job, but I really enjoy the exercises in how to communicate with your audience better and increase overall reach.

  • Fantastic post. It’s great to see people taking time to plan out their theme design instead of just going for aesthetics.

  • Thanks for the link, Darren. When I went and redesigned my blog, yours was one of my strongest influences, especially in my thin header requirement. In the old days, I used to want to steal Brian’s designs, but now that he and Chris make the occasional one available, I’ve moved on. : ) Maybe it’s that “playing hard to get” thing?

    I’m really glad you liked the post. Happy May!

  • I agree with that Website design can make you more money or that it works for you. Really good post indeed!

  • Good read…There are some bloggers who are so fascinated with getting a great funky, graphical design….But if you do something like that make sure it loads up quickly…

  • That’s a great link! I just changed the design of my blog to a new, less colorful, cleaner theme. I’m not totally happy with it though because I think the lines are a bit too wide to read them easily, so I didn’t get to the final stage of tweaking the design yet.

  • Thanks for linking to that post. It was informative and gave me some things to think about with my blog design. I have already redesigned it once, and I think even without reading that post, I realized a lot of these things just by watching my readership and page views. It is true that some of the most-read blogs aren’t that great to look at. But given my content, I wanted to create a design that was a balance of the two. And because I am a graphic designer by trade, I have the luxury of being able to tweak my design on my own. I think the design I am currently using speaks both to my goals and to my love for aesthetically pleasing design.

  • The best compliment I got on the design of my site was that it was “warm and inviting.” That feedback really stuck in my mind. The second best compliment was the photo of me on the homepage that was described as “You look so cozy with your ice skates!” I really liked that word “cozy” because thinking about it, I do want the site to feel inviting, warm, cozy and have a home-like feel to it. Don’t know for better or worse, but I’ll find out.