7 February 2018 · posted in how to blog
From blog to brand
Blogging has been a thing for at least ten years now, and I've been reading and writing on different platforms for... all of them. Guess that makes me old, huh? So much has changed since the era of the bright background colours and blog designs are getting more professional each day. So much has changed even that today we aren't talking about starting a blog anymore, it's all about creating your personal brand. I have seen a lot of beautiful site transformations over time, with the help of themes and design services, but if you are like me and you want to do everything yourself, it's easy to forget about the details when you're looking at the big picture. For those do it yourself designers, today I am sharing what I think are the easiest but most ignored details of a good and professional, killer blog design. A little list of must-have's to take your blog to the next level.
Buying your own unique domain is a little investment that is more than worth its money. My domain, purchased through Gandi, costs me €15.73 each year but it looks so much better than xyz[dot]blogspot[dot]com, xyz[dot]squarespace[dot]com or any other platform you're using. Having your own domain also means that no one else can use it and receive traffic that was intended for you.
Every brand, company or business out there has a logo. Why should blogs be any different? If you want to take your blog to the next level, make sure readers and brands can recognize you visually. A beautifully designed logo (header) gives your blog that extra touch of professionalism.
"A what?" You ask. Most browsers use a little image in each tab on the left of the text. Like when you are on Twitter there's a little blue bird in your browser tab. Having your own custom favicon that fits your design is a must if you want your blog to look professional. You don't want your blog favicon to be the default orange Blogger one or the default black square Squarespace offers. It really is a little detail that makes such a difference. Almost nobody will notice that you have one or remember what it looks like, but a lot of people will notice if you don't have one.
Writing amazing, creative and interesting content is one thing, having your readers find it on your site is another. Whether you are just blogging for fun or you want your blog to grow into a business, having easy and clear navigation on your site is a must. You don't want people to leave your space just because they can't find what they're looking for.
Contact and social
Having your contact info and social links visible and easily accessible on your blog is probably the most important thing now that social media platforms are so big. You want to make sure that readers and brands can follow you on the platform of their choosing and contact you directly through e-mail. However, focus on sharing only the links to the platforms you are actually using as it is just crowding your space otherwise.
Same width pictures
I know that this one is quite controversial. I have one opinion, another blogger has another but everyone agrees that visuals are (next to interesting content) the most important part of a blog. I recommend having pictures that are the same width as your text, as this brings consistency to the look of your content and your posts become easier/calmer to read through and most readers prefer this look over any other. You can put two pictures next to each other easily too, as long as the overall width is the same as your written content. Some newer blog designs have pictures that are much wider than the text and if it fits with your design then absolutely, go for it, I have seen beautiful examples of it, just remember that wider pictures are sometimes hard to see in their totality on smaller screens which in turn can make your posts a little confusing to read through. Pictures that are a smaller width than your text are an absolute no-no for me and will make me leave your blog immediately.
When you want your blog to look more professional try to be consistent in style. By that I mean: photographs, fonts, colours, the layout of blog posts, ... Be consistent so readers and brands can get a good idea of what you represent and how you do it. Finding your own style is a process, but once you find what works for you, try to stick with it. You will notice that having your go-to style will help create content much more efficiently as you know what you want and what you need to do to achieve that look. There are no real rules when it comes to changing style, you can do whatever your creative heart desires, but I believe that being open about your style and the direction of your blog is the best approach. Your audience will be more involved in the process and won't get caught off guard with differently styled content.
Grammar and spelling
I know it's not a design detail, but this one is everything guys. Even though English is not my mother tongue, nothing puts me off more than reading a blog with recurring grammar and spelling mistakes. Some might call me "a stickler for details" and "overdramatic" but there are blogs I unfollowed because of constant language errors. We all know sometimes we work too fast and typos happen and that's okay, but changing their and they're constantly, not okay. Same as with your favicon, almost nobody will notice or care that you have perfectly on point language until you don't, so make it a priority. (I've been using the Grammarly Chrome extension for the last couple of months and it's absolutely brilliant!)