Written by Kayla Domeyer
There are so many resources targeted toward bloggers and blog design: countless clipart, site themes and generic images. With so many kits, ready-made designs and easy-to-implement themes, why should a blogger worry about the look of their site? Why does it matter if one blog looks the same as another, or if two bloggers use the same clip art in their logo? Bloggers ask the questions, “Do I need a fancy header? Can’t it just be text?” or “I’m just using the default theme, is that okay?”
The blog design is the face of your company. It is the first impression that the reader gets, and it is tied to their memory of your content. So, would you want to have a generic face? Or to share a face with five or six other bloggers? Probably not. The design, or face of your blog, is one of the most important facets of your business. The reality is that a good design makes a blog attractive, professional, and friendly.
Imagine you’re driving down the highway. There are restaurants right and left, and you are trying to decide where to stop for dinner. There are two diners in front of you. One sports a brightly lit, pretty neon sign with legible words and a crisp outline. The other has a hand painted, crooked, and peeling sign. Which would you stop at?
Your blog design, header, colors, photos etc. are just like that sign. They are the first thing that a reader sees and they are the quickest information to process. In seconds, a reader will compare your website with everything else they’ve ever seen and decide if it is worth their time. If the design is good, they will be more likely to stay.
“Customers look at and evaluate your site within seconds, so you need to catch their attention, engage their interest.” – George, Lead Web Designer at Buckeye Interactive
Content is key to keeping an audience, but blog design and layout is a huge tool for drawing people in at first. After the initial draw in, a good design helps to keep your audience by looking professional and friendly.
In keeping with the business analogies, imagine you are hiring for your business. Your first interviewee of the day enters with a wrinkled shirt, stained pants, flip flop sandals and a bright pink bow in their hair. The second interviewee is wearing a clean, crisp suit with a tie, shiny dress shoes and nicely cut hair. All other aspects being equal, which of these candidates will get the job? The one that looks professional.
Poor design is viewed the same way sloppy clothes are. It comes off as unprofessional. In the example, a wrinkled shirt might be the equivalent of a hard-to-read font. The flip flops might be a 1980’s photo of yourself on the sidebar that you keep because it is your “best photo”. The pink bow might be a set of social media icons that make no logical sense with the color or theme of your blog. All of these elements add up.
Conversely, a beautiful photo, matching colors, legible font and coordinating buttons can send a message of professionalism. Just like a matching suit and tie, your blog design should be uniform, thought out and consistent.
“If you want to be professional, it is important to look professional. The old saying ‘you only get one chance to make a first impression,’ is especially true in the blogging world.” – Jonathan, Professor of Web & Graphic Design at Central Michigan University
In addition to impressing your audience, a professional website goes a long way toward securing relationships with sponsors and brands. The cohesive look instills confidence and creates a complementary space to display sponsored content and brand campaigns.
Finally, your blog design goes a long way to make your blog friendly. Imagine that you’ve found a small country store and you’d like to go inside to buy a snack. How would you feel if when you walked in, half of the boxes on the shelves were empty? What if you couldn’t tell if they were cash only, until the attendant irritably tells you so? What if the aisles were crooked and had dead ends, leaving you to wander around looking for things at random? How would you feel?
Chances are, you would feel frustrated. This is the same sort of feeling that broken links, illegible text, nonsensical navigation (or a lack of navigation), and distracting ads give to your reader. Blog design can go a long way to alleviating that feeling, and leaving your readers with an impression of friendliness. With easy to find navigation, legible font and illustrative photos, your blog design increases usability and keeps reader frustration to a minimum.
“[The first thing I see on a blog is] the masthead and navigation. I want to know what I’m looking at and where I can go next. I’ll move to the content as soon as I’ve gained a foothold on how to work the contraption.” – Derek, Graphic Designer/Creative
About the Author: Kayla is a professional graphic designer who loves to spend her time creating unique and affordable printables and DIY projects. She’s married to her high school sweetheart and has 3 adorable cats. She’s the face of Sweet Anne Designs [saynotsweetanne.com] and can be found tinkering in the kitchen, the garage, or crafting on the living room floor.