Blog Design: Does it Really Matter?

Filed as Features on January 15, 2008 8:01 am

Repost This

As I continue to look around the blogosphere, I see posts almost daily about design, blog design, and sites with great design, and as I gear up to have my own blog, Xfep.com, redesigned, I wonder if it is really important to have a powerful, beautiful or striking design. Isn’t content all that really matters?

I remember back when there was a fair bit of talk about ugly sites doing better with AdSense and certain other advertising programs. In part this was because the usability was a nightmare, and people were more often than not, accidentally clicking on advertisements. These days, as private ad sales begin to make up the bulk of many bloggers incomes, a professional design helps sell the “whole package”.

What I mean is that you can have great content, tons of readers, but if your blog design looks very basic, or amateurish, certain advertisers won’t be a interested in having their brand associated with yours. In a perfect world, the design of your blog wouldn’t matter, especially if you were a great writer, but from what I have seen, it can limit your ability to get to the upper levels of earning potential.

It is strange though, as I go through the process myself of dealing with a redesign while at the same time reminding my readers I have an RSS feed available, and would love them to subscribe. Pushing a redesign through while pushing people to my RSS feed is almost like pushing two opposite non-complimentary goals. Most RSS readers will never see the design, except maybe to check it out when I post about its launch.

I write this post to see what your thoughts are. Does blog design matter to you? What are your favourite blog designs? And do you think that blog designs can limit the earning potential of a blog?

Have your say in the comments below.

Tags:

This post was written by

You can visit the for a short bio, more posts, and other information about the author.

Submissions & Subscriptions

Submit the post to Reddit, StumbleUpon, Digg or Del.icio.us.

Did you like it? Then subscribe to our RSS feed!



  1. Blog Design: Does it Really Matter? : BlogazineJanuary 15, 2008 at 8:18 am
  2. By Lukasz Sobek posted on January 15, 2008 at 9:52 am
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    If it were only for the RSS blog design would not matter but since the reader has to have a place he can be convinced to subscribe blog design is a very important matter. Looking at it from the readers point of view a na answer to the questionn “If you had to choose between two mobile phones with exactly the same features with one being stylish and the other looking like the work of an amateur – which would you choose?” I believe would clear out the matter. In my opinion its added value with the result being more than the sum of its parts – design supports content and the other way round.

    Reply

  3. By digibluez posted on January 15, 2008 at 10:12 am
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    Depends on the blog audience. If it is meant for commercial purpose or moneymaking then the blog style ,art, graphix play a big role in this. But most do not know about blog design, instead the make it a AD- SELLER website, forgetting it is a blog and what matters is the content. No one is going to stick long around if there is nothing good written in it. But 2 part, the if the design is not great, the user might even dose not stay over 2 sec, if it is eye catching, smooth and a calm design then they look what the site has to offer, now there comes the 2 way thing. No content – no readers – no good design – no readers.

    But in personal blogs i really prefer and recommend, less thinking about the blogs look, just blog…

    Reply

  4. By Knight OF Ni posted on January 15, 2008 at 10:34 am
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    You are right, I’m reading your posts in Google Reader. I had to come here to see the design.

    But when I first came to your blog (someone sent me a link), I read that post and checked your design. It looked enough good for me to hit the subscribe button.

    You must be at least Jakob Nielsen to have me read something from such an ugly site: http://www.useit.com/

    Reply

  5. By Tammy Lenski posted on January 15, 2008 at 10:52 am
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    Yes, design matters to me when I read blogs. I generally read posts in my feed reader, but for two exceptions:

    - I like to click through and read the posts directly on sites with great designs. There’s something about the whole aesthetic experience that boosts that post for me.

    - Posts that are jammed with formatting and links are annoying to me in feed readers – they somehow seem more palatable on the blog’s page itself.

    Reply

  6. By Sandy posted on January 15, 2008 at 10:59 am
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    Design is the head of the blog,
    rss is the brain thought.

    Reply

  7. By redwall_hp posted on January 15, 2008 at 2:25 pm
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    As a designer, there’s no way I’d tell you design doesn’t matter.

    Think of it this way: A car’s purpose is to take you somewhere. But would you buy a rusted old car instead of a shiny new Prius?

    Reply

  8. By Joshua Clanton posted on January 15, 2008 at 2:47 pm
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    I may be strange, but despite the fact that I am an avid RSS user, I end up clicking through to the site over half the time. In part, this may be my “sensitive designer” nature, but I also find it easier to read most blogs than to read their entries in Google Reader.

    Reply

  9. By Arjewtino posted on January 15, 2008 at 3:37 pm
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    Think of it from a reader’s perspective. If I click on your blog and am put off by the overall look and feel of your site, I won’t return or subscribe. Content rules, yes, especially for your RSS readers, but design is like the PR guy who’s trying to get you to visit.

    Reply

  10. By bz posted on January 15, 2008 at 4:54 pm
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    Read the NY Times article about PlentyofFish.com.

    They seem to think web design matters, however Mr Frind is cashing cheques to the tune of $10M a year with his allegedly god awful site.

    Traffic matters, not design.

    Reply

  11. By Jessi posted on January 15, 2008 at 6:51 pm
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    It’s like judging a book by its cover. It could be either crap or a wonderful story inside, but if the cover doesn’t catch my attention, I’m not going to pick it up in the first place. When I’m flipping through random sites or clicking through links of links of links…..I skim right by those that don’t look great. I have to actually force myself to skim through text on blogs, for example, that are hosted on Blogger and use one of the default templates…and still have the random default spots unfilled like “put links here” and “This is your about me section,” etc.

    On a side note, I use RSS feeders, but I still frequent most of the sites on a regular basis for things like commenting or just getting to read a post on something other than a blank screen. And if a writer is talking about a redesign, then I’m going to check in specifically to see it.

    Reply

  12. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on January 15, 2008 at 9:19 pm
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    Ah, David, you forget that in order to comment on your blogs, the reader must leave their feeds and visit your blog, thus see what a mess you’ve made of things. :D Kidding.

    You’ve made a good point. Usability is critical, and there is a misconception that “pretty” means usable, but it doesn’t. And beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as well as the designer. Many like clean, minimal looking designs, while others actually thrive on seeing cluttered and grunge looking blogs.

    The design must match the content and purpose, without a doubt, and yes, it used to influence advertisers, but lately, they don’t have time to physically check sites. They just want the income. ;-)

    What we really need to worry about is the day when feed readers can incorporate comments, so few will honestly visit our sites not “judge a book by its cover” because they are only seeing the feed content. When that happens, web designers will probably be designing feed designs not just screen designs, don’t you think? That will change things a lot.

    Reply

  13. By Ramon Ray posted on January 16, 2008 at 10:55 am
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    I just spent about $5,000 to upgrade Smallbiztechnology.com’s interface and move to Movable type – one of the best investments I’ve done!

    Traffic is up and more!

    Reply

  14. By David Airey posted on January 16, 2008 at 11:00 am
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    Interesting point by Lorelle about feed designs, although I think that the web design will still need to match the content, as in order to subscribe you’ll be visiting the actual site. Further still, traffic from search engines will always be a big chunk.

    Reply

  15. By Kim posted on January 16, 2008 at 3:14 pm
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    For a blog design to be a success, you need to
    ensure that it first meets user’s expectations by providing a positive user experience.

    The user experience is primarily made up of four factors: branding, usability, functionality and
    content. Independently, none of these factors make for a positive user experience; however, together, these factors are the main ingredients for the blog’s success.

    A blog has the opportunity to provide a great user experience by:
    • Effectively communicating the brand
    • Strengthening two-way relationships
    • Extending your market reach
    • Providing functionality that makes sense and adds value
    • Turning your site visitors into regular readers

    A great blog design with a compelling online experience always happens naturally after you do your strategic research and planning to understand your visitors’ expectations.

    Reply

  16. Blogbuster: блоги, блоггеры, блоггинг, веб 2.0, RSS, WordpressJanuary 17, 2008 at 12:29 am
  17. Blog For Profit » Law blog design mattersJanuary 19, 2008 at 5:58 pm
  18. » Here We Go Again: Why High-Cost Design Is NOT a Barrier to Entry in the Blawgosphere Blawg In A Box: Blogs For Lawyers From The Blawg CoachFebruary 3, 2008 at 11:28 pm
  19. Why are designers never 100% satisfied? | David Airey :: Graphic and Logo DesignerJuly 1, 2008 at 1:19 am
  20. Blog design mattersApril 2, 2009 at 2:50 am
  21. By Jamie Allsop posted on September 2, 2009 at 1:59 pm
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    Talking from a designers point of view I would have to say that the design of your blog is important.

    Reply

    Your words are your own, so be nice and helpful if you can. If this is the first time you're posting a comment, it might go into moderation. Don't worry, it's not lost, so there's no need to repost it! We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it please.

    Current day month ye@r *