You’ve bought the URL… What’s next? The basics of good blog design.

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You’ve decided to start a blog, chosen an amazing name for it, secured the URL but what’s next? Google ‘how to start a blog’ and a handful of ads will greet you for potential platforms and hosting providers.

Say what?

All you want to do is write, right?

And link the blog to your business; or perhaps run your blog as a business; and not forgetting the small matter of global domination which you’ve put as your number one target for 2019.

So maybe we need to think beyond the content and the writing for a minute or two. I know, I’m such a spoilsport. But trust me, think these things through from the beginning and it will save you so much pain later on.

I mentioned both the platform and the design of your blog in myfive things to consider before starting your blog post back in 2017 and both are still so incredibly important.

At a time when the internet is bursting at the seams with content and with attention spans rapidly reducing, at the very least you’ve got to have a site with great functionality and an eye-catching layout. Overlook either of these and you’ll be lucky to have eyes on your site for less than minute regardless of how beautifully written your posts are.

Which platform you opt for is personal preference … everyone you talk to will have a different opinion. The Kiwi Social uses WordPress and my own blogs (The Ordinary Lovely and In To The Potting Shed) use Squarespace. Ask around and play around before deciding. And if you decide to pay a designer to set it all up for you, make sure that you’re able to easily update, add and amend the layout or content going forward. It could work out quite rather costly, otherwise.

Moving on to the design of your blog, again it’s a matter of taste. However, before you decide on your favourite custard yellow background and pack the landing page full of cursive font, there are a few things to consider … things which just make sense, really (look at your favourite websites and blogs and see how many items on this list you can tick off for each of them).

  1. Keep the design in line with your brand identity – the typography, colour palette, voice should be the same on all platforms.
  2. Whitespace and a white background are popular for a reason – they highlight your words and images as opposed to fighting against them for attention (sorry, custard yellow).
  3. Show a little restraint – not everything needs to be front and centre on your landing page … and you can always change what takes centre stage depending on what product or post you want to showcase at any particular point in time.
  4. Clear website navigation – make it easy for people to find what they need as if they can’t do so in three clicks, the fourth click will be off your website. This might get easier in time as your analytics will give you more of an indication as to what your readers search for and read.
  5. Use post extracts on your landing page rather than full blog posts – entice people to click through to read them with a great image and an intriguing sentence or two and not the full post.
  6. Use cursive font for headings only, please – it’s pretty but so difficult to read, particularly huge paragraphs of it.
  7. Don’t use huge images – no one wants to wait for them to load, do they?
  8. And finally, sense check how everything looks on a mobile phone and an iPad, too – most people read on the go so how your website appears on a phone is as important as on a computer or a laptop.

Tip of the day: Once you’re happy with the look and feel of your blog, send the link to a few friends and ask them to cast their eyes over it and provide honest feedback. It’s important that your site represents you and your business but is appealing to other people, too. I’m just in the process of doing this so have set up a ‘coming soon’ page for In To The Potting Shed while I play around in the background.

Next time: I’ll be talking getting your blog out there. If you have any questions or anything you’d like me to cover, do let me know.

Rachel 

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