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Blog DesignBlog Tips

Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Design Your Blog

By Feb 5, 2011October 28th, 201458 Comments

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So you’re ready for a new design! This is great news. It means you are taking your blog seriously and you want it to reflect who you are. There are a number of areas you should school yourself in before you contact your designer. The more you know about the direction you’d like to take your blog, the easier you make your blog designer’s job, and the less time (and money) they will need to spend on perfecting your site.

The problem with having a direction on where you’d like to take your blog design is that many of us have NO IDEA what we’re looking for. Even if you do not have an eye for design, it is important to keep in mind that you’ll know when your blog is “right”.  At that point, it will transform into a natural fit with who you are and what you write about.

Your blog design is the first impression made on new visitors to your site. These questions will help you decide what direction you want to take your blog design before you start.

Start the design process by asking yourself these four important questions:

1.  What blogs are you drawn to?

Find five blogs that you could stare at for hours (figuratively speaking). Determine what it is about these blogs that you enjoy. Write down what it is you love about these sites and what aspects you’d like to see on your own blog. We’re not talking about copying designs here at all, simply picking and choosing things you personally enjoy.

Pioneer Woman Blog Header

2.  What makes you different?

Our blogs are reflections of who we are and we are all different in a billion different ways. How can your blog reflect those unique aspects of who you are? Step outside of the box and capitalize on whatever it is that makes you special.

Dooce Masthead


3.  What are your colors?

There are two important things to consider when choosing a color scheme for your blog. Number one, what colors please you? And number two, what colors please everyone else? Typically we don’t care what other people think about our choices, but in this case, if you’re hoping to keep readers around, then it’s important to choose from a color palette that is pleasing for all. Believe it or not, there is actually some serious research behind colors that encourage return visits and colors that actually deter people from visiting a site again. Professionals spend a lot of time thinking about color combinations and appeal when branding their sites. Check out this article about color meaning and learn about what message your site could be sending.

color wheels

4.  What is Your Brand?

Yes, it’s that brand talk again. We get that you may simply be online to have a good time and blog with friends. That is great. But if you’re looking to take your blog to the next level, then you may want to spend some time thinking of a way to represent yourself consistently across the board. This means whatever theme you choose for your blog will be repeated anywhere you set up an account in your blog’s name, such as on Twitter, Facebook, BlogFrog, etc. We’ve seen everything from self designed tattoo emblems to circus tents to candy bars, to attacking mommies.  Your choice for a theme that represents you best are up to you.  What spin can you take that hasn’t already been done? What can you create that will cause people to think of you whenever they see it?

Mama Kat

For more blog design resources, check out these sites:

  • Mezzoblue: A wonderful portfolio of designs that are sure to inspire you.
  • Color Scheme Designer: An awesome tool that allows you to click on colors and then displays their complementary counterparts.
  • Smashing Magazine: Are you looking for an out-of-the-ordinary design for your blog? Then you’ll definitely want to check out this site.  It is a collection of some of the most original and beautiful designs on the web.
  • We Love WP: A well respected resource for finding inspiration for your WordPress site.
  • iStockPhoto: An amazing resource that allows you to browse images and purchase them at a reasonable cost for use on your site.
  • Fonts: If you are in love with fonts like we are, then you’ll definitely want to check out Veer and DaFont. A word of caution: You may find that time mysteriously disappears once you start clicking.

Now, let’s discuss! Name a blog design that you are in love with. Also, do you have any blog design resource sites to recommend? If you do, share the link in the comments.

{If you liked this post, then be sure to check out Part 2, How NOT to design your blog, and Part 3, How to Be Successful with a Blog Designer, of our blog design mini-series.}

58 Comments

  • I highly recommend Dreamstime for graphics! I use it professionally, and find the fees affordable and the selection immense.

  • When it comes to design I think the main and/or only thing that needs to be re-done is my header. It looks so bland and boring (at least in my opinion). In defense of the friend who helped with it, she’s very busy and I couldn’t pay her (I work for her part-time!) so I’m at the mercy of a very basic header. In time I’m sure this will be re-done and much better. With my extreme lack of patience though I wish it was sooner rather than later. Haha.

  • Jenny says:

    You have given me much to think about, which I was totally ready to do. I want to be a better blogger.

  • Jenny says:

    Honestly? I love your new design and a lot of what Renee does at Studio Bold.

  • LOVE the resources you’ve listed! And I couldn’t agree more – while content IS king, I rarely find myself frequenting ugly blogs, no matter how well they’re written. Yay for pretty! 🙂

    Linds

  • Ninisays says:

    I recently changed my blog design but I think at the end of the year I’ll be changing it again. I am IN LOVE with April Shower Blog Designs! Thanks for giving me some added places to look.

  • Tammy says:

    I loved this post…I always want my blog to pop. I do get compliments almost daily so I must be doing something right. Thanks! 😉

  • Teresa says:

    Copyblogger is warning that design is more important now than ever with the changes at Google.
    (read it all here: http://www.copyblogger.com/google-instant-preview/)

    Perfect timing on your part to discuss design!

    Kudos, and I look forward to reading more.

  • I like to change my blog design to keep it fresh and exciting for new readers. I use free sites such as “the cutest blog on the block”. My header stays the same though.

  • vivi b. says:

    great tips! now it’s time for action.. =D i would have to sit and think about these first before making the move. i use free wp theme right now with one of my blogs and have seen 4 blogs (and im sure there are more) who has the same theme! i got frustrated at first honestly.. and now i do think i need to do something about my blog design..

    thanks again for the tips!

    Visit my other blog: http://www.theblogforbrides.com

  • Mimi says:

    I am in the process of combining my blogs and I’m trying to figure out what I’m going to do about blog design. I absolutely love my blog design on my original blog Woven by Words. I think it would be fun to change it up a little bit, but I’m not sure I’m ready to let it go. I know that people see my blog and button and know exactly who I am. I was thinking of tweeking it a bit and still staying with the theme somehow. I’m mulling it all around in my mind still!

  • Kimberly says:

    So far, I’ve done all my own design. And I’ve come a long way, baby! When I look back at where I’ve been and looking forward to where I’m going, I’m glad that I’m learning along the way.

    One of my favorite blog designs is http://www.kelleysbreakroom.com/

  • Stacy says:

    This is very timely, I’ve been working on the design of my blog for the last few weeks. I’ve given it a whole makeover. The only thing I can’t decide on yet is the background!

  • Christine says:

    I back…I am JUST LOVING all these tips..can’t get enough! THANK YOU! 🙂

  • the MRS. says:

    I am struggling with this right now! I need more color…or some color, I just don’t know how to do it without looking like a cheesy blog…

    thanks ladies

    -Celina

  • Off the top of my head I can’t think of any blog designs that I absolutely love, although there are many designs that I like for that particular blog and think,”How cute is their blog, that’s perfect.”

    I’m personally drawn to blogs that have a shabby chic vintage scrapbooky look to them. However, I don’t really feel like that would be a good fit for my own blog. Since I want my blog to be very family friendly I don’t want it to be totally girly and would prefer something a little gender neutral.

    I’m pretty sure that I want to do the colors blue and yellow (with maybe some green), or I may just want to do primary colors. I love polka dots, so a polka dot background would be nice. I’d like to have a personalized logo or maybe a caricature, but I really want to be able to include a few photos on the header…so I’m sure how that would look next to a caricature.

    Although it’s a tiny thing (I don’t know how to do it), but I really want to get the tiny social networking buttons. I really don’t like the way the big badges look on my blog…I think it makes it look cluttered. But I don’t know where to get them.

    Right now I’m using a free WordPress theme/layout. I also have a free WordPress.com hosted site, so I’m not sure if that makes a difference in how much I can customize or not. Aside from basic html I don’t know anything about coding and I’m afraid I’ll make my blog disappear or something!

  • Sandra says:

    Such an exciting topic for those of us who hold our blogs so dear. Mine is definitely in transition so I really appreciate this!

  • I like to keep it clean and simple. I’ve had three different headers and changed colors a little bit over the last year but that’s about it.

  • Cheryl D. says:

    I won a blog design here in December. I really have to put thought into this! I’d love a new look and blog buttons (and business cards)!

  • Great article…I’ve been thinking about polishing my look, but since I don’t advertise, I’m not in a place to hire someone…. I’m looking forward to this series!

  • I designed my blog back in October with a free WP theme. I am happy enough with it, considering I can’t spend any money on it right now. I am going to look through the resources in this post and see if there is any other changes I can make. It feels a little cluttered to me.
    Thanks for the tips!
    Bernice

  • mamabear says:

    ok, the links you listed here are priceless! Thank you so much for this post!! Can’t wait to start working on my design 🙂

  • mel says:

    looking forward to reading some of the links!

  • Christine says:

    I am so excited about these tips! THANK YOU!!!!!

  • Great information. Lots of things for me to think about.

  • Kat says:

    It took a little while for me to figure out what I wanted for my blog. I spent hours and hours looking around the web at other blogs, free templates, etc before I finally found it. At first I wanted the cute cartoon blog…..but once I went searching…. they were everywhere! I kept looking and found something that I fell in love with…. and there is no other like it. Great article!

    Kat @ A Journey Into Reading

  • Ashley says:

    I discovered that I was more drawn toward blogs with a simple design: white background, black font and a cute header. I’m not a professional but these blogs are easy to read and keep my attention on the writing. After realizing this, I changed my blog to reflect this popular style. I definitely believe less is more…especially when less is free. Lol.

  • Simone says:

    Oh dear that comment was FULL of Typos. Should have checked. Never mind.

  • Simone says:

    I’ve done a post recently with some tipstools and how to’s for making your blog more delicious…
    My personal favourite at the moment is “Photoscape” which a FREE downloadable photo editing tool, so easy to use and great for making collages, giving amazing effects, adding frames etc.
    Love it.
    Here’s the post with all the links…
    http://www.greatfun4kidsblog.com/2011/01/blog-tips-and-tricks-for-delicious-blog.html

  • Kimmie says:

    I love this article! I recently changed my blog header design because I knew it wasn’t attention grabbing. Some of the tips listed here have been tips that I used before to understand how to market my blog more efficiently, especially viewing my favorite blogs for inspiration.

  • Winter says:

    I love thepioneerwoman.com (of course), bakerella.com, howjoyful.com, thedesignerpad.com, http://delightfuldelicacies.blogspot.com/.

  • LaDonna says:

    When I started looking at blog designs…I knew I had to make a lot of major changes and didn’t “startle” my readers by drastic changes….first I figured out what I wanted my URL to be and checked to see if it lined up with what I wanted the title to be. Then I found serveral pics, none of them were just right, but it gave my graphic person a starting point. Many people suggested I go to a white background, but I have never been one to do what everyone else is doing and I love how the vibrate colors pop of black…there is a lot of symbolism in my header colors, blog colors that are missed unless you know my life. A college friend of mine, who had not seen my blog until my SITS day told me….LaDonna you have always LIVE LIFE OUT LOUD….your blog is you on paper. That was a great compliment and I knew I was on the “right track” by following my insticnts…

  • Great tips. Now I am totally sucked in to the font sites — so addictive 🙂

  • Excellent post. I chose a design that represents me and my colourful tropical background!

  • Beth says:

    To tell you the truth, there are just so many blogs out there that I love, love, love. Seriously, I find a new one every day. And a lot of home design blogs have good looking blogs, like The Lettered Cottage where “Our blog is our playground and passion pushes our swing.” Just love that tag line.

    Ok, I have to shut up now. Can you tell I love looking at good looking blogs!

    Thank you SITS.

  • Angie says:

    These are certainly some valuable tips. We’ve just given our site an overhaul and while we’re still putting the finishing touches on it, my sister and I are really happy with the new design. We’ll definitely browse the resources listed above for more ideas.

  • Shana says:

    I’m getting ready to do a re-design and these tips will be very helpful. Thanks!

  • Jayme says:

    Someday I’ll splurge not only for a decent WP theme but for a redesign as well 🙂
    So far I’ve done it all myself.

  • Nic says:

    Great! I just put up a new layout today. I just cant decide what kind of look Im going for yet.

  • Jennifer says:

    I tend to like designs that pop with color and look different from everyone else (like Mama Kat’s new design or Gretchen at Who Put Me In Charge of These People). I actually have someone working on a redesign for my blog right now. Up until this point I’ve done everything myself and I decided it was time to invest in someone that really knows what they are doing.

  • Great resources, and great ideas to freshen up my blog. Thanks!

  • Jen says:

    Some very interesting points here. I like it.

  • Jamie says:

    I am still not ready to commit to one design, but I have found some great frees designs in the year I have been blogging. I like change and I might just continue to change my background with the seasons.

  • Karen says:

    When I was thinking about a design for my blog last year, I took notes of what I liked and did not like about most blogs I visited. Little things like colors and fonts and number of columns. I found I was always drawn to caricatures in the headers so knew I wanted to have a custom one made for myself… and I did. Now I look at blogs still, thinking and wondering if I’ll make a change.

    Thanks for those sites; I am going to check them out. It was a challenge to tell my blog designer I wanted a “fun” font and to describe a shade of purple when what showed on her monitor and mine was so different.

  • I am constantly changing my design because I can’t figure out what I like! Hopefully this series will help! 🙂

    • CK says:

      I think your blog is totally cute! I like the header and simple, straight lines. The colors are cute as well.

  • Lindsay says:

    This is a great article and each and every tip is right on. I’m actually super happy with my blog design and I was able to get all of it for free. I used Swift Theme (www.swiftthemes.com) and also elements from a Post-It Theme that Itookia.com did a long time ago. Together, it makes my blog beautiful.

  • Melissa C says:

    Thank you for the info & suggestions. Great ideas, I need to start taking notes now for future changes.

  • Randa says:

    This is great! I’m looking into uping my blog look but not using a designer – now I at least know where to start!

    :0]

  • April says:

    Thanks for the tips! I’m a bit of a control freak and was seriously considering taking on the task myself but I think if I follow this I will get something I love and save myself a lot of time and stress!