The way your blog looks is just as, if not more, important than the content you’re putting there. A good looking blog that functions well plays a huge part in keeping your audience engaged. The last thing you want to do is turn people off with illegible fonts and crazy colours as they will simply leave at the click of a button, never to be seen again.
This blog has been through its fair share of awful design, but over the years I’ve learned more about what visitors expect to see when they find themselves landing on a blog. On top of that, there are ever-evolving trends to keep up with too but since blogging has taken a turn for the mainstream, it’s easier than ever to make your blog look good on a budget. Here are 5 quick and easy things you can do to make your blog look better…
1. Choose a Style and Stick to it
I’m sure you’ve heard it said before that your blog needs ‘Branding’. All this means is consistency running through the content you’re putting online, from your writing style to the quality of your photos.
When it comes to the look of your blog, choose a colour scheme, a few fonts that work well together and an all-over visual style for your blog and stick to it. You might also consider creating a logo or having a designer create one for you.
Once you’ve got everything sorted on your blog, carry it across your social media too – everything should be recognisable as YOU!
2. Buy a template
Unless you can design and code a blog yourself, you’ll need to make use of the services of a designer at some point. Best to get it out of the way early by biting the bullet and investing in a template for your blog. There’s no need to spend hundreds on a custom design at first (or ever, if you don’t want to) as you can pick up beautiful premade templates for anything from £10-£50.
Whatever blogging platform you’re using, there’s a template out there for you. Some of my favourite places for browsing templates are pipdig, Blog Milk and Etsy but there are quite literally hundreds of places online where you can buy a good template.
3. Learn basic HTML
When it comes to formatting posts and tweaking the design of your blog, HTML knowledge is a huge advantage no matter your skill level – a little goes a very long way.
I learnt basic HTML as a teen when I started customising my MySpace profile (back then, you could customise your social media profiles in a BIG way!) and it’s paid off both in terms of my personal blog and my career, even though I only know the very basics. I can’t code a whole site from scratch, but I can go in to the code and tweak things without worrying about completely breaking my blog!
For me, the main advantage of knowing a little about HTML is that I don’t have to consult (or pay!) someone else every time I want to make a small change to the way my blog looks or functions. I can decide this font needs to be a bit bigger or that share function needs changing and go straight in and do something about it.
I know it’s very intimidating when you look at 2000 lines of code and don’t know where to start, but you can learn it all online! I find reading help articles is the easiest way I learn but if you’re more of a visual learner, there are plenty of YouTube tutorials to help as well. Although nothing compares to using these skills in practice, seeing the results of your work and learning as you go.
4. Design Your Own Graphics
Now I’m not talking about overhauling everything on your blog, but basic design skills are invaluable for any blogger. If you own and/or can use Photoshop and other design programs, that’s awesome and you can probably ignore this point! I personally use Adobe Photoshop for all of my photo editing and design but if you’re not so savvy with the software, there are plenty of free services out there to make graphic design easy for beginners.
Tools like Gimp, PicMonkey and new kid on the block Canva are at least partially free to use for editing and creating stunning imagery. They can be used to create everything from banners to pinnable images for your blog posts. Even though I am technically capable when it comes to design, I’m not the most creative when it comes to creating graphics so I frequent sites like Canva, Creative Bloq and Pinterest for inspiration and to keep up with current design trends.
5. Keep it Clean
There are a few exceptions but generally speaking, anything that doesn’t add to the reader experience probably doesn’t need to be there so it’s important to regularly clear any clutter from your blog. When there’s too much to look at, visitors can get overwhelmed or confused and may not stick around for very long. This is especially true for first time visitors.
In order to clean the clutter, slowly scroll through the front page of your blog and take a look at each individual element that makes up your blog. Decide whether it’s necessary or useful to the reader and if its not, get rid of it. I’ve made it sound quick and easy but I know that it’s not because I’ve been through it myself! I culled a lot of ‘stuff’ from my sidebar this year and at the time, it’s always a hard decision to make but I don’t miss any of it now! It really helps if you can be objective about it. I always try to think about it like I’m viewing someone else’s blog, not my own.
Now I’m going to leave you with a challenge! One thing that you can do right now, in 10 minutes… clean up any clutter on your site and take that first step to a better looking blog.