When I am consulting for blog designs, one the the most frequent requests is to help “clean up” the blog layout. If you’re a regular visitor, you may notice that I’ve recently made some changes to my own blog over the past few days in an effort to make my blog more clean, streamlined and user friendly.
We all know that content is King, but if your blog is too cluttered, no one will even see it.
Here are a few changes I’ve made to help make my blog more user friendly and reduce visual clutter.
1. LIMIT THE BUTTONS IN YOUR SIDEBAR and POSTS
This goes for party posts as well. You may have a huge list of linky parties that you like to join in when you can, but if you don’t link up to each of those parties on a regular basis, consider just placing text links or buttons only for the parties you link up that particular post to. If you prefer to use the party buttons, use this tutorial from Gwenny Penny during the Beginner Blogger Series last spring to help streamline the buttons in your post.
2. CREATE A GALLERY OF YOUR FAVORITE PROJECTS or RECIPES
When someone new visits your blog, whether through a Google search, or Pinterest, or from a linky party, they obviously stopped by because you offered something they were looking for. Make it easy for them to explore your blog by offering a gallery of your favorite or most popular posts and projects.
If you have a linky subscription, this is pretty easy to do by just creating a private list of your own links. (This is the way I did it).
However, if you don’t have a linky account, you can use this tutorial I found at Laura’s Crafty Life to create your own project gallery, then link to them from your menu bar or sidebar.
This would also be a great way to replace the labels cloud you may have in you sidebar. (Ask yourself – Do I ever use those when I visit a blog?)
I’ve added a recent posts widget to the top of my posts. I’m really excited because I’ve been wanting to add this for a while and I finally found a great (and super easy) tutorial at Blogger Plugins. I love this because it allows visitors to see what they’ve missed if they’ve been away for a few days, and it shows photos from the posts rather than just a link list like the Blogger Archives gadget.
Please, please, please do not require me to decipher a bunch of skewed letters in order to comment on your blog. I really, really want to leave you nice comments, but half the time it takes me three or four tries to get the letters right, and by then, I’ll probably just leave. Posts and tutorials on how to do this have been written on countless blogs, but Shannon at Fox Hollow Cottage says it best. (click the image below to be taken to the post).
Consider limiting to two or three fonts in your header, sidebar, buttons, etc. In general, the most complimentary font combinations are one serif and one non-serif font. (Examples of serif fonts are Times New Roman, Garamond, Trajon Pro; Sans Serif fonts are Ariel, Tahoma, Impact). With fancy, swirly and handwritten fonts, you would want to pair them up with something a little more modest. Basically you want complimentary but contrasting fonts rather than fonts that look similar.
Sometimes when I’m inspired by a particular post, I want to ask a question or share something personal that I’d rather not leave in the comments. But I need a way to do that. Place a link to your email in your sidebar, or better yet, your menu bar.
You could also add it in your About Me page. What, you don’t have one? Create a page that I can easily find so I can read more about you, your likes, why you blog, and what your favorite Starbucks drink is.
I’m working on updating mine, but you can find it here: About Me (Kristin, Simply Klassic)
8. LOOK AT THE BLOGS YOU LOVE, then LOOK AT YOUR OWN BLOG
How often do you really LOOK at your own blog? I mean, you look at other blogs all the time, right? Take some time to really look at the design and layouts of your favorite blogs and see what truly appeals to you. Take notes. Bookmark (oh my, am I dating myself?), I mean PIN your favorite designs. Then when you are ready for a new design, you can show your ideas to your designer, or take those inspirations and design for yourself.
(Remember, if you’re in the market for a new design, I’m your girl! I will be taking a break during the holidays but am currently placing inquiries on a wait list for January 2013)
I hope that you found some of these ideas helpful, and I’d love your feedback.
What, besides content, makes a blog stand out to you, especially on your first visit? (good or bad)
Is it the general overall design, or is there something specific?
Is there anything that really bugs you about a blog’s design, or are you able to focus solely on the content?
(Please refrain from referencing specific blogs in your answers. Thank you!)
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