Blogging is, or should be like, having a conversation. There is give and take, and the environment where the conversation is happening should be warm and welcoming. Not loud and distracting.
While your blog and website design should reflect who you are and what your blog or business is about, it is important to remember that you are also designing for your potential readers and clients. People you hope to build a relationship with.
Get rid of them. I’m not saying get rid of all backgrounds, but tone down busy backgrounds, and make content areas larger, minimizing how much of the background shows. Let your writing shine within a nice frame.
Limit the number of fancy fonts you use. Use one nice font in your logo/branding, and for the most part, stick with that for your watermarks and labels on your sharable images.
Also, get up to date on web fonts, and stop using fonts that are not free for commercial use. All the bloggers out there – remember that many of you are running a business through your blog. That means you are using fonts commercially. Familiarize yourself with Google Fonts and how to install them, or purchase commercial licenses and use the @Font-Face CSS rule.
No Sharing Buttons
Just…get them! If you are on WordPress you can use the sharing buttons through Jetpack, which are perfectly acceptable. Right now I’m using Sharaholic, which has recently undergone improvements, and I am loving it.
Clutter includes ads that aren’t making you any money. “Blog Love” buttons, including your own button. I assure you, no one is “grabbing” your button.
Subscribe, Follow, and Contact Buttons
I believe these mothers should be everywhere. In your header you should at least have your follow buttons along with your email address (if you are seeking brand partnership). If you have the space and won’t sacrifice content above the fold, add a post by email sign up in the header. Follow and subscribe buttons should also be in the sidebar and footer. Remember people might not always want to scroll back up to follow you, especially on mobile devices.
Tone down the navigation. You really don’t need to give people so many options. They can’t handle them. Navigation should be in obvious places. Above or below your header, or maybe in a sidebar if it makes sense with your design. Limit the number of navigation items to NO MORE than 7-8. If you feel you MUST give that many options, split them up, with some above the header and some below. If you have drop downs (which you should also limit to only 4-5 per menu item), make sure they are located in the navigation below your header, so they don’t cover your logo when they drop down. Lastly, navigation items should be listed in plain, easily recognizable terms. There is no need to shake up navigation just to be different. People expect what they expect, and we need to provide them with those cues!
There you have it. My top six blog design changes that will make big impacts. Now go check your site and get to fixing these mistakes and open up your conversations!