What Makes Good Blog Design?

If you like getting design inspiration by looking at excellent blog designs, you’ll love our new gallery site Blog Design Heroes.

As you surf through the internet you’re bound to come across certain designs that you love and some that you hate. But good blog design has a few unique elements when compared to the design of a traditional website. Here are ten things to keep in mind when designing your blog.

1. Content Should be the Focus.

A blog is nothing without its content. In order to keep your visitors focused on the content, it should be the focal point of the design. Distracting readers with excessive images and extra items can be counterproductive. For this reason, many of the best blog designs are fairly simple. Simplicity is common for blogs that want to emphasize the content.

2. Ease of Navigation.

Readers will come to your blog through search engines, links from other blogs, RSS feeds, social media sites, etc. Only a small percentage of your readers will enter your blog through the front page. This makes navigation even more important. The sidebar typically will include the majority of the navigation with links to categories, recent posts, and sometimes popular posts. Footers are sometimes also used for additional navigation.

3. Loads Quickly

Many of your visitors will have a very short attention span (this is really no different for blogs than traditional websites). In order to immediately catch their attention and avoid having them click off of your site, your pages should load quickly. This is especially important you plan to use social media to generate traffic. Some blogs are weighed down by excessive widgets that really hurt the page load speed. By keeping your blog clean and free of unnecessary items you can really cut down on the time it takes to load.

4. Content Start High on the Page.

This one is more of a personal opinion than a fact, but I believe that more of your visitors will pay attention to your articles if they start higher on the page. Make it as easy as you can for readers to get started with your posts, and then they’ll be more prone to scroll down for the rest. Again, this is especially important for traffic from social media sites. Those visitors will be less likely to scroll and more likely to click off of your blog.

5. Memorable for Visitors.

Most blog readers visit a number of blogs each day, and many of them will feature the same (free) themes. Make it easy for your visitors to remember your blog and standout from all of the free themes by customizing a theme yourself, or by having a blog theme professionally designed.

6. Not Overrun with Ads.

For most blogs making money with advertisements is a necessity. However, even in these cases it’s important to use advertisements effectively by not allowing them to take over the blog. Your readers will feel like they are not a priority to you if advertisements take center stage.

7. Compatibility with Multiple Browsers.

Your visitors will be using a number of different browsers, and if your blog is not functioning well in all of them you could be losing readers. Fortunately, 90% of your visitors will probably be using the leading 3 or 4 browsers. In order to know that you blog is functioning well you’ll need to test it in multiple browsers.

8. Good Use of Color.

The best designs effectively use color to improve the appearance. This can be done any number of ways, and sometimes it’s even a subtle aspect of design. The color combinations don’t have to jump out at readers, in fact, they actually need to make it easy for visitors to read the blog posts. If you’re looking for a good color combination, be sure to check out the resources listed in Find the Perfect Colors for Your Website.

9. Easy to Read.

This is really more about formatting the content of the blog than it is about a theme design. Keep in mind that most readers will be scanning your posts rather than reading them word-for-word. Use headlines, white space, lists, and bold text to make it easy for readers.

10. Important Items Should Be in Prominent Positions.

Effective design will draw the attention of readers to important items, such as subscription information. The most important links, images, etc. should generally go above the fold so that visitors will see them right away. Getting rid of unnecessary items will also help readers to focus on what’s important.

Published October 7th, 2007 by

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251 Responses

Comments are now closed on this post.

  • TyCat, October 7, 2007

    This not only goes for blog design, but web design in general. Great post.

  • Karen Zara, October 7, 2007

    I’m glad you’ve mentioned that a site should load quickly. Being a dial-up user, I suffer a lot when I visit certain sites.

    I’d love to have a professionaly designed custom theme, if only I could pay for one. :-P Well, someday I’ll be able to afford it. :)

    One issue that might have been addressed by your post is how a good design can make things easier for visitors with disabilities. Maybe in a future article? ;)

  • pablopabla, October 7, 2007

    I would like to think that I have all the above in place…but then again, it is subjective and reader’s impression is all that counts at the end of the day.

  • Karthik, October 8, 2007

    Checking for cross-browser functionality is easily missed – nice post.

  • Fabio Cevasco, October 8, 2007

    Very nice post, I agree on all the points and especially with:

    6. Not Overrun with Ads.

    I think too many blogs and websites in general use a lot of annoying and obtrusive ads nowadays. I try not to (but it is also true that I don’t care that much about ads revenues).

    Regarding speed and cross-compatibility… well, they’re the real challenges I think.

  • John Lampard, October 8, 2007

    “7. Compatibility with Multiple Browsers.” One way to bring this about is to work with W3C (www.w3.org) web standards. Most modern browsers offer a good degree of support for these standards meaning websites should render in very much the same in different browsers.

  • Vandelay Design, October 8, 2007

    Thanks everyone for your comments.

    Karen,
    You’re right. A lot of people forget about the dial-up users now. According to Google Analytics dial-up users make up a pretty small % of my visitors, so I am more prone to include images than I would otherwise, but I still try to keep things simple.

    Pablopabla,
    You’re absolutely right, it is subjective. That’s what makes it difficult.

    Fabio,
    Yes, ads are becoming more common everyday. I don’t mind them as long as they don’t interfere or slow things down. They’re a necessary evil in most cases.

  • WarriorBlog, October 8, 2007

    As long as I think it look good, I am ok. I also tweak all the free theme that I use to make it look better :-)

  • Vandelay Design, October 8, 2007

    WarriorBlog,
    I think making some changes to free themes is really necessary to standout.

  • Karthik, October 8, 2007

    @John
    Unfortunately, W3C standards only mean that the site would look “ok” under all browsers – it doesn’t necessarily render the same way you meant it to. I’ve had it happen on one of my sites – looks good on FF, but not so good on IE – and yes, its validated :)

  • Karthik, October 8, 2007

    @WarriorBlog
    Do you use a custom theme? I didn’t notice a credits link, so I guess it is – it looks pretty simple and pleasing on the eyes, nice work!

    @Steven
    I noticed you’ve just changed the way the titles are displayed on the sidebar, they look much better now. :)
    I remember asking you which plugin you were using to display the popular posts on the sidebar and if it was a template hack or if it was widgetized, unfortunately I don’t remember which post it was in, would you mind repeating it here? (I’m subscribed to this one, so I’ll remember ;) )

    Thanks.

  • Vandelay Design, October 8, 2007

    Karthik,
    Thanks for noticing the sidebar changes. I didn’t like the old look, but hadn’t taken the time to get it how I wanted it. When I changed the theme a few weeks ago it wasn’t a big priority, but I realized that it really didn’t look good. I also added recent posts in attempt to improve the navigation.

    The popular posts list is actually not using a plugin. I added that list to the sidebar manually, that way I can control what posts are there rather than having a plugin control it based on # of comments or something. For now I like it this way because I can change it whenever I want to.

  • Karthik, October 8, 2007

    Ok, that’s an idea – I add a couple of them manually on my popular posts page too, funny I didn’t think of adding it directly to the sidebar!

    I didn’t know I’d have company when I added them manually! I guess for some reason, some of the better posts don’t get as much attention!

  • Vandelay Design, October 8, 2007

    I think for me it just comes down to the fact that I would rather choose what I want to be there than to leave it up to a plugin. Plus, I try to keep plugins to a minimum.

  • I wish there was more innovation in blog design..seems like we are getting stuck in the same patterns for new themes.

  • Acopic - Web Designers, October 9, 2007

    Yeah – I’m a big fan of the less-is-more school of thinking. Sites have to be easy to use. Period.

  • John Lampard, October 10, 2007

    @ Karthik – correct – there will be some variation in appearance cross browser, more so when a particular browser offers poorer support for W3C standards as is the case with IE. Using standards in our work though is a way of encouraging browser manufacturers to offer full standards support :)

  • Felix Ker, October 10, 2007

    I think I have 1 fault – overrun with ads!

  • Miss Lingerie, October 12, 2007

    wonderful…great and focus points….enjoy reading and trying to observe everything that you mention…thx for sharing your experienc e with us

  • Wallace, October 13, 2007

    thinking of creating a personnal blog, i guess this is a goos article i should read, will apply this to my blog. thx for sharing

  • Mike C, October 13, 2007

    Do you know of any good resources on fixing errors in different browsers. My site struglles in IE6 but does fine in IE7 and firefox. Any suggestions would be great. thanks.

  • Vandelay Design, October 13, 2007

    Mike,
    I have a post from last month with resources for testing in multiple browsers.

  • --Deb, October 14, 2007

    Ease of Navigation and Easy to Read . . . amen!

  • Arindam, November 15, 2007

    Nice post. however I’ve categorized the essential requirements from two perspective-both human and technical. Please check 8 elements of a good blog theme or template. Your feedback will be highly appreciated. :)

  • oyun hileleri, December 29, 2007

    What Makes Good Blog Design? Guide To Promoting Your Blog Through Guest Posts 99 Ways To Promote Your Blog For Free How To Set Up A Domino Effect Of Traffic

  • Sami, January 28, 2008

    Important Items Should Be in Prominent Positions. So why do you have this as #10?

  • Jim, February 11, 2008

    Great article, I definitely agree on #6, if there’s too many ads it destroys the credibility of the site I’m viewing because I feel like they’re just writing for the money and not to make good content.

    Astheria has a good article on the subject as well: http://astheria.com/design/the-user-expectations-of-a-blog

  • Rob, February 14, 2008

    I like your Top 10, I definitely agree that content should be high on the page to stand out to the viewer.

    Something I’m tweaking is the positioning and use of adverts. It’s a fine balance to get it right.

  • Kishore Blog, February 18, 2008

    This is must read section for bloggers.
    http://www.kishoreblog.com

  • Todd Daniel, February 18, 2008

    Great synthesis of thoughts on good blog design.

    I find that many blogs not only get overrun with ads but also with too many widgets and other junk that take away from the focus of the blog.

  • Karl, February 25, 2008

    The worst thing for me when visiting blogs are adwords! I see a link underlined, so I mouseover, and instead of a link to something I’d consider useful, it’s an ad. I’m not sure why this irritates me so much, but it does…

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    I try to reduce the pictures in my blog, but I hope it still looks nice.. Thanks for sharing this..

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    @Karl … those aren’t adsense advs, they are kontera and the double underline is your clue that it isn’t a standard link.

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    I’m going to follow up your link to customizing a free theme. Mine pretty much sux … although it is getting progressively better (IMHO).

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    I would like to think that I have all the above in place…but then again, it is subjective and reader’s impression is all that counts at the end of the day.

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    I remember asking you which plugin you were using to display the popular posts on the sidebar and if it was a template hack or if it was widgetized, unfortunately I don’t remember which post it was in, would you mind repeating it here? (I’m subscribed to this one, so I’ll remember.

    • Vandelay Design, February 4, 2009

      Kral,
      It’s not a plugin. They’re coded into the sidebar manually.

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    Soon I will create a personal blog. This is ok – can serve an example for beginners.

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    Kral,
    It’s not a plugin. They’re coded into the sidebar manually.

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    Easy to read is important. Remember when for some reason, everyone was using 8pt verdana on their websites? I remember getting my first 20″ monitor and realizing that so many websites’ text were so hard to read. Use a nice font and make it big enough to read at any resolution.

  • çesme otel, April 28, 2009

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  • Photography Blog, May 1, 2009

    What makes a good blog design? For me, a lot of it comes down to simplicity. Fewer ads, easy navigation, fast loading, easy to read – many of the things you mention are the result of simplicity. And the more complex a site is, and the more you’re trying to do with it, the harder it is to maintain simplicity. But in my view it’s often the simplest designs that are the most memorably and really put the emphasis on content.

  • What makes a good blog design? For me, a lot of it comes down to simplicity. Fewer ads, easy navigation, fast loading, easy to read – many of the things you mention are the result of simplicity. And the more complex a site is,

  • Anthony Proulx, May 18, 2009

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    And how often to update the blog? Natural that the information must be unique.

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  • magzaci, June 15, 2009

    But in my view it’s often the simplest designs that are the most memorably and really put the emphasis on content.

  • yapimarket, June 15, 2009

    Ok, that’s an idea – I add a couple of them manually on my popular posts page too, funny I didn’t think of adding it directly to the sidebar!

    I didn’t know I’d have company when I added them manually! I guess for some reason, some of the better posts don’t get as much attention!
    kardrik

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    Easy to read is important. Remember when for some reason, everyone was using 8pt verdana on their websites? I remember getting my first 20″ monitor and realizing that so many websites’ text were so hard to read. Use a nice font and make it big enough to read at any resolution.

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  • radyo dinle, July 19, 2009

    Ok, that’s an idea – I add a couple of them manually on my popular posts page too, funny I didn’t think of adding it directly to the sidebar!

    I didn’t know I’d have company when I added them manually! I guess for some reason, some of the better posts don’t get as much attention!

  • cars, July 22, 2009

    Checking for cross-browser functionality is easily missed – nice post

  • yapimarket, July 22, 2009

    I try to reduce the pictures in my blog, but I hope it still looks nice..

  • ssk sorgulama, July 23, 2009

    I still have problem with the time of loading..
    I try to reduce the pictures in my blog, but I hope it still looks nice.. Thanks for sharing this..

  • Rihanna, July 27, 2009

    4. Content Start High on the Page.
    and how it’s with the “read more” link?

  • Kaplang, August 7, 2009

    really great post thanks :) I am busy doing a redesign for my own blog at the moment.

  • Thats a nice compilation of good tips for a modern blog. If all would follow them…

  • doctor games, September 2, 2009

    Nice post!i love it!very detailed..web designs are not so important in your blog. The important thing is you should focus in your content because the first thing to when your making a blog, web design is useless if your content is not interesting

  • Araba Oyunları, September 10, 2009

    I remember getting my first 20″ monitor and realizing that so many websites’ text were so hard to read. Use a nice font and make it big enough to read at any resolution. Thanks.

  • Diyet, September 11, 2009

    really great post thank you

  • estetik cerrahi, September 11, 2009

    Great post. I am going through a new re-design now and trying to find the perfect WordPress theme to customize. Great points to keep in mind.

  • Giydirme Oyunları, September 12, 2009

    Congrulations for this nice web design..Usefull. I didn’t know I’d have company when I added them manually! I guess for some reason, some of the better posts don’t get as much attention!

  • suzzane, September 14, 2009

    Titles on the side bar luks good now due to the changes made.
    they look far far better.

  • gizli çekim sikiş, September 16, 2009

    I think the typography makes the blog design for me lol.. You cannot speak english, Thanks for sharing.

  • Dare, October 1, 2009

    Please add this as well.
    - Soft colors
    - Easy to use
    - Instant messaging somehow twitter function.

  • yarış oyunları, October 6, 2009

    Thanks, for this information and news it was very useful to me

  • muzikdinle, November 17, 2009

    I think the typography makes the blog design for me lol.. You cannot speak english, Thanks for sharing.

  • saç ekimi, December 6, 2009

    Thank you for nice informations they are too neccessary for me !

  • Turizm, istanbul, December 24, 2009

    Do you know of any good resources on fixing errors in different browsers. My site struglles in IE6 but does fine in IE7 and firefox. Any suggestions would be great. thanks.

  • Turizm, istanbul, December 24, 2009

    Yeah – I’m a big fan of the less-is-more school of thinking. Sites have to be easy to use. Period.

  • resimler, December 26, 2009

    And you should add this as well: soft colors and easy to use.

  • plaka sorgulama, December 26, 2009

    Really great tips that every blog owner should recognize.

  • Luciana Nunes, January 4, 2010

    Nice tips! Thanks a lot! I will follow this rules when I start my blog =)

  • aşk oyunları, January 16, 2010

    Nice post!i love it!very detailed..web designs are not so important in your blog. The important thing is you should focus in your content because the first thing to when your making a blog, web design is useless if your content is not interesting

  • Spor Haberleri, January 19, 2010

    The important thing is you should focus in your content because the first thing to when your making a blog, web design is useless if your content is not interesting

  • Moda, January 30, 2010

    And you should add this as well: soft colors and easy to use.

  • radyo dinle, January 30, 2010

    Do you know of any good resources on fixing errors in different browsers. My site struglles in IE6 but does fine in IE7 and firefox. Any suggestions would be great. thanks.

  • WebALP, January 30, 2010

    Nice tips! Thanks a lot! I will follow this rules when I start my blog =)

  • Mavi, January 30, 2010

    I agree to a certain point, these are necessary in general web design anyway, do not forget backlinks from high pageranking websites.Regardless how good is the content without backlinks you will not score high.

  • oyun oyna, January 30, 2010

    I still have problem with the time of loading..
    I try to reduce the pictures in my blog, but I hope it still looks nice.. Thanks for sharing this..

  • irmak, January 31, 2010

    Checking for cross-browser functionality is easily missed

  • sinema izle, February 1, 2010

    sinema izleyi sewerim
    Do you know of any good resources on fixing errors in different browsers. My site struglles in IE6 but does fine in IE7 and firefox. Any suggestions would be great. thanks.

  • fantastik resimler, February 1, 2010

    Really great tips that every blog owner should recognize.

  • kadincamekan, February 7, 2010

    I didn’t know I’d have company when I added them manually! I guess for some reason, some of the better posts don’t get as much attention!

  • Florian Weber, February 11, 2010

    I think you can stress 5. enough, you have to stick out of the crowd, so people instantly know it’s YOUR blog, not A blog.

  • depodepo, February 15, 2010

    I would like to think that I have all the above in place…but then again, it is subjective and reader’s impression is all that counts at the end of the day.

  • Download Photoshop, February 24, 2010

    Great tips for creating a blog, which must necessarily follow. Thank you for the article! P.S. And what engine to your blog you think best? In my humble opinion – is uniquely WordPress!

  • diyet, February 28, 2010

    hi.
    “Soon I will create a personal blog.
    This is ok
    can serve an example for beginners.”
    thanks.

  • medyum, March 2, 2010

    This is a great post and deals with an issue I’ve been struggling with in marketing my new product. I know I don’t want to be a “guru” IM type, but I also don’t want to not-sell my stuff. There is definitely a fine line to walk, but as I read more about the people doing it right, finding that line becomes much easier.

  • mario oyunları oyna, March 16, 2010

    The only thing I would say is that in certain sections diagrams would be helpful in explaining, and more example exercises to try out would be great. Thank you for a fantastic web site!!!

  • Oyun, March 25, 2010

    I think you can stress 5. enough, you have to stick out of the crowd, so people instantly know it’s YOUR blog, not A blog.

  • kral oyun, April 2, 2010

    i think this article not only cover blogs also cover all sites. if you want to make your web site useble you must follow these steps

  • VPS, May 12, 2010

    girls , sun , sea and love :)

  • Melanie, June 3, 2010

    Thanks for the hints. I have installed my wordpress blog 3 days ago. I tried to make the blog desing indentical with my normal website. In my opinion this is the best choice for my project.

  • takı, June 14, 2010

    Thanks for the hints. I have installed my wordpress blog 3 days ago. I tried to make the blog desing indentical with my normal website. In my opinion this is the best choice for my project.

  • iğrenç espriler, June 17, 2010

    I think you can stress 5. enough, you have to stick out of the crowd, so people instantly know it’s YOUR blog, not A blog.

  • Green Design, August 6, 2010

    Compatibility with Multiple Browsers <– this is the most difficult part, because using available and free wordpress theme sometimes is not compatible to all browsers, especially safari. I'm having a bad time with safari browser.

  • mario oyunları, August 6, 2010

    There is definitely a fine line to walk, but as I read more about the people doing it right, finding that line becomes much easier.

  • ruyaportal, August 22, 2010

    I think you can stress 5. enough, you have to stick out of the crowd, so people instantly know it’s YOUR blog, not A blog.

  • mario oyunları, September 10, 2010

    i think this article not only cover blogs also cover all sites. if you want to make your web site useble you must follow these steps

  • firma rehberi, September 28, 2010

    Thanks for the hints. I have installed my wordpress blog 3 days ago. I tried to make the blog desing indentical with my normal website. In my opinion this is the best choice for my project.

  • Boner Billy, October 22, 2010

    Thanks, all good and helpful info. Can’t think of anything to add and was reminded of things I had forgotten. Helpful as can be thanks!

  • izle, December 3, 2010

    Thanks for the hints. I have installed my wordpress blog 3 days ago. I tried to make the blog desing indentical with my normal website. In my opinion this is the best choice for my project.

  • online müzik dinle, March 23, 2011

    Thanks for the hints. I have installed my wordpress blog 3 days ago. I tried to make the blog desing indentical with my normal website. In my opinion this is the best choice for my project.

  • Barbie bebek oyunlari, April 14, 2011

    Thanks for the hints. I have installed my wordpress blog 3 days ago.

  • zayıflamak istiyorum, May 17, 2011

    The worst thing for me when visiting blogs are adwords! I see a link underlined, so I mouseover, and instead of a link to something I’d consider useful, it’s an ad. I’m not sure why this irritates me so much, but it does…

  • kırma eleme tesisleri, May 22, 2011

    Compatibility with Multiple Browsers <– this is the most difficult part, because using available and free wordpress theme sometimes is not compatible to all browsers, especially safari. I'm having a bad time with safari browser.

  • Toronto Web Developer, June 10, 2011

    Great Great advice. Thanks!

  • nvidia graphics, July 25, 2011

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  • Ferienwohnungen, July 27, 2011

    Yeah – I’m a big fan of the less-is-more school of thinking. Sites have to be easy to use. Period.

  • ben10, August 14, 2011

    Compatibility with Multiple Browsers <– this is the most difficult part, because using available and free wordpress theme sometimes is not compatible to all browsers,

  • kedi oyunları, October 18, 2011

    Yeah – I’m a big fan of the less-is-more school of thinking. Sites have to be easy to use. Period.

  • Bilgisayar Oyunları, January 28, 2012

    The important thing is you should focus in your content because the first thing to when your making a blog, web design is useless if your content is not interesting

  • Wallpaper, May 31, 2013

    sites have to be easy to use.

  • Kırık çıkık, June 2, 2013

    certainly like your website but you have to take a look at the spelling on several of your posts. Many of them are rife with spelling problems and I in finding it very bothersome to tell the truth then again I will certainly come again again.

  • Ürün Fotoğrafçısı, June 16, 2013

    Thanks for the hints. ;)

  • StanteaR, July 30, 2013

    Nice :D