In my short blogging career, I quickly realized that as long as form follows the function of my blog, it is considered to be well search engine optimized. This rule applies greatly to the visual components of the blog as well. In the beginning, I had a simple dull looking theme which I believe my readers did not like and naturally I never used to get visitors especially returning visitors. I tried writing good content but it still did not help. That’s when I came across the awfully awesome Thesis theme with its great customization and SEO powers and I quickly decided to go for it. After a couple of month’s designing and coding, here I stand and I am quite impressed with the present looks of Incrediblogger homepage. A couple of my readers have really appreciated my work.
Now let me break how visual elements play a part in how others see your blog into points:
- The Header: First comes the header area. The header is one of the most important areas of a website/blog which conveys a lot of messages to the visitor. So a compact, appealing and handy header is very important. While creating the header, we should not over-stuff it with images and thereby making the page size more which will cause the site to load slowly. Many themes allow you to upload your header image directly from the theme management page making it much easier for you.
- The Title: Next comes the title of the posts. At this point, you may have to take several artistic decisions either yourself or by taking opinions from others (visitors). What font you select, whether you should use colors, size of the font. You have to decide the font size, color, weight etc. based on your background color/background images.
- The Blog Layout: Having a proper blog layout is very important. Most themes nowadays offer you to select either 2 or 3 columns; even the orientation of the sidebars can be selected from the theme options page itself. Generally bloggers prefer to have 2 columns – one content panel and the other a sidebar. I personally like this format and have decided to go with it, but I have seen many blogs having 3 columns. There are many arguments as to which layout works out best. According to my findings, a 2 column blog is more appealing. There is no proof though that 2 column layouts work better than 3 columns, I feel 2 columns to be visually better.
- The Sidebar: Next in the list comes the sidebar. A properly designed sidebar can be very much visually appealing and can hold back your visitors. If you’re on any one of the greatest blogging platforms like WordPress, Blogger etc., then you can simply place anything you want in your sidebar. Right from a list of Popular posts, Random posts, Latest comments, advertisements and what not. But in this effort you should not over-clutter the sidebar. An over congested sidebar makes the page look ugly and also results in slow loading. One of the users called Yash at IndiBlogger.in however did not like my sidebar design and suggested me to un-clutter the right sidebar. But, that’s only him who found it unpleasing and I did not receive any other complains from other users. I am still thinking on how to simplify the sidebar to give it a more elegant look. I love criticisms and look at it in a very positive manner.The bottom-line is that you can do a lot of customization to the sidebar to utilize that space and thereby turning it into a really visually appealing piece of work.
- The Footer: The footer can hold a lot of widgets nowadays. The trends have changed to having several widgets in your footer area instead of holding only your copyright information as in old days. Most beautifully designed blogs have a well-designed footer as well to make the look more elegant. You can dissect your footer into multiple columns/html div tags similar to your main content area. Usually 3-4 column footer is fine. You can add a list of top commentators in one of the columns and a list of most commented posts in the other. The 3rd column can hold your short biography and a link to your “About” page. You can have a look at my footer and get some idea how to structure yours. You can also check out Smashing Magazine’s post on Footers In Modern Web Design: Creative Examples and Ideas and 45 Excellent Blog Designs.
The best blogs always look professional and unique and they are not cluttered with an excess of visual imagery either. Stick to one type of design theme and don’t stray from it to make your blog appear as sleek and stylish as possible. I hope I have covered most of the important factors to enhance the visual appearance of your blog. So go and analyze your design and find out places of improvement. Also don’t forget to share your experiences and ideas with us.
P.S: The best images convey a message that expresses the purpose of the blog. So try to use visually appealing images for your posts and also displaying the image thumbnail on the homepage can enhance your blog design. My experience says that a good blog design can lead to a much reduced bounce rate.