A good blog design isn't just about implementing best web design practices, but involves much more than that. Unlike static websites, a blog incorporates much tighter integration of social features to facilitate direct interaction with the community. This makes designing task a bit tricky to get the maximum benefits from the available real estate on your blog. Lets dig in and try to find out some of the most necessary guidelines for designing a blog that keeps your visitors hooked.
Apply C.R.A.P PrincipleIf you're a web or graphic designer, you may already be implementing this concept on every website/blog coming out from your studio. For those, who are not aware of C.R.A.P principle, I must stress that it's not 'crap' but C.R.A.P (Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, Proximity). It's one of the basic web design principle applicable to every single web page to make it more appealing and effective.
- Contrast - Every blog have different sections comprising of content, header, footer, ads, comments and sidebar. These sections form a single unit (web page), yet they are logically separated from one another. If your blog visitor can identify these different sections easily without getting confused, it means you've applied the first rule well and good. Do not make different sections identical enough that visitors find it difficult to view each section as a separate unit.
- Repetition - The design and style implemented for each section should be applied across every single web page. Change in style may lead to confusion resulting in bad browsing experience for your visitors. Whether it's home page, single post page, static page or archives page, keep the style of each section uniform.
- Alignment - Now this is very simple. Arbitrary alignment of objects makes the web page look like dump yard. Streamline related objects aligning them uniformly to make your page well organized, more attractive and legible.
- Proximity - The last but not the least is the proximity rule. Group all logically related objects together and keep them close to each other to form a well-organized cohesive unit. This ensures the section comprising of logically related objects serves its purpose and gives you maximum benefits.
Do Not Include EverythingIt's a honeypot that looks good while implementing, but makes your blog bleed in the long run. It's very tempting to include fancy flash objects, rotating image galleries and similar elements to give a richer experience to the visitor. But behind it, you require well-optimized code, carefully chosen multimedia plugins and a good hosting server. A good blog design is considered to run fast with minimal hiccups even when several multimedia objects or scripts are running behind the scenes. Here are some guidelines to keep only the essentials and to cut down the weed.
- Avoid flash objects wherever you can.
- While choosing a multimedia plugin, make sure it passes the performance benchmark and doesn't consume too many server resources.
- Use CSS + web optimized images, instead of scripts to beautify your theme sections.
- Keep your content on the left. Research suggests that while viewing a web page, human eye tends to scan left to right.
Make it SocialUnless you don't provide ample options to share and aggregate your blog content, you're defeating the whole purpose of creating a blog. It's the community nurtured around a blog that makes it successful. Every good blog design includes rich integration of social media elements to allow easy commenting, bookmarking, subscription and cross-posting to popular new media platforms. Here's a checklist to make sure your blog design is well-equipped to handle social media savvy traffic.
- Consider using a third party commenting system consisting of richer integration of popular social media services. Some of the commonly used commenting systems are Disqus and Intense Debate.
- If you stick to native commenting system, use popular social media plugins like CommentLuv, Twittar to return social love to your commentators.
- Include bookmarking section right below the post body to get the maximum sharing clicks.
- I'm not a fan of top and bottom social media bars quite common nowadays. They hinder your normal browsing activity and are irritating. However, you can experiment with them and can consider in your blog design plan.
- Consider displaying your latest tweet in your blog's header or footer to encourage more twitter following. Nowadays, large number of blog designs includes twitter updates matching the theme in various sections of the blog.