Design theory for new bloggers

Filed as Guides on August 9, 2005 12:25 am

by Duncan

Entering the blogosphere can be exciting, lots of interesting people with similar interests and a never ending stream of content to digest, but sometimes new bloggers, with blood rushing to their heads can make some grave design mistakes with new blogs.

KISS theory equates to keeping an idea simple: literally keep it simple stupid, and it should also be a theory that is best applied to new blogs by new bloggers, because although design is not a major factor in determining the success of your blog, bad design actually works against future success by driving readers away before they can become hooked by your content.

At the same time though new bloggers should consider customizing their blogs to some extent. Whilst the days of Blogger Blogs all having the same generic orange heading are gone, I still find that amongst free services that one blog tends to look the same as the next blog on that service.

So if your a new blogger, or even an existing blogger who’s struggling with design, here are the 4 C’s

Clean: a blog design should where possible remain clean and free of cluter. This is often difficult at first because you’ll be tempted to put up hundred of buttons from your favorite blogs services and sites, and all sorts of other junk. I’m the first to admit also that the Blog Herald isn’t the best example of cleanliness, but its a lot better than it use to be.

Concise: a new blog should have posts that are concise and don’t waffle on for thousands of words, because you’ve only got a short time to grab a readers interest. By all means I’m not suggesting that every post should be 10 words long, but look at breaking up your content, mix posts lengths and if your putting up long posts, use an extract or division feature to only display the first paragraph or two on your main page.

Color: keep your colors simple. Believe it or not people hate reading text on colored backgrounds. Unless your skilled at placing very subtle background imagery or can find a nice soft background color (ensight.org comes to mind) use white as your background color and stick to black for your text. Sometimes you can vary your colors for the text but for a beginner I’d warn against it. Don’t believe me, check out all the top sites: black text on white background for a reason. Also I’d recommend against using a black background with white text unless your really, really sure as well. Its not as easy on the eye to read, and whilst its a lot less offensive then say a purple background with bright yellow text, your better off with white background, black text.

Customize: what ever you do, don’t leave the standard template that is provided by your blog provider or blogware as it is. You don’t have to be a genius to do some very basic tweaking to a template on most systems. My No. 1 recommendation for the beginner is a custom header graphic, because even on a standard template it will automatically make your blog stand out from the crowd. If you don’t have a photoshop-like program, try a program such as The Gimp which can be downloaded online.
What you need to do is create a box and then, using color and text create a header. Think 1st grade level computer class (note though when I was in first grade they didn’t have computers in schools, but I’m sure kiddies would be taught this by now). Its really not too hard. There are plenty of guides available. If you can use a WordProcessor you can create a customized header. By all means, play with some other parts of the layout, but if your not confident, leave them, and remember that simple is the key.

Update: Ive just noticed this post about blog headers via Problogger.net, a good guide to customized headers.

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  1. 31 Days to Building a Better Blog - Day 9: Blog Tips - ProBloggerAugust 9, 2005 at 6:16 pm
  2. By Vix posted on August 9, 2005 at 9:15 pm
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    Another tip under “Clean” is whitespace. Use padding and line-heights to make paragraphs easier to read.

  3. By Tony E posted on August 10, 2005 at 3:15 am
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    Those are good basic tips, keep the design simple and clean. It’s often tempting to use every color available which is a big mistake. Stick to 2-3 colors. I agree about the custom header… it makes a difference on my DigitalTechNews blog.

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  5. » Starting a Blog Part 4: Customising your blog The Blog Herald: more blog news more oftenDecember 4, 2005 at 10:15 pm