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Top 5 Tips on How Best To Design Your Blog

2011 October 25
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by Contributor

Designing your blog can seem like an enigma at first, but it’s not very difficult to make your blog look amazing. In fact, you can make your blog look really nice and get some traffic if you focus on just five things: research, sidebars, pictures, formatting and SEO.

1. Use the Firebug Plugin for Mozilla Firefox

When designing a new blog or redesigning your current blog, one way to brainstorm is to look at what bloggers you like are doing and emulate them. But, once you find a design you like, it can be hard to parse the html to find the parts of the site that interest you. And worse, even when you look at a site’s source code, JavaScript often manipulates the HTML so that it’s impossible to see what the HTML actually looks like.

Firebug is a plugin for the Firefox browser that allows users to not only inspect the source code of any site online, but it also will show you the HTML that the JavaScript is masking. Firebug also makes it really easy to investigate just the elements you want. All you have to do is click the “inspect” button on the Firebug toolbar and hover your mouse over the page element you’d like to investigate. Then, Firebug displays the CSS and HTML making up that page element. You can even copy or manipulate the CSS or HTML directly in the program.

Check out this immensely helpful plugin at http://www.getfirebug.com

2. Use Your Sidebar Effectively

Sidebars are an often overlooked part of blog design. After all, most blogging software and sites automatically set sidebars. And though some people remove the sidebar altogether and have a full page design, aesthetically and for a better user experience, it’s helpful to have a sidebar. While ultimately, the specifics and content will depend on the blog and the blogger’s choice, there are three things that are helpful for many bloggers to have in their sidebars: posts, tags, and The Facebook Social Plugin.

Posts are an important thing to emphasize in your sidebar. You’ll want to have links to at least the five most popular and five latest blog posts–not only will this allow the reader to see more of your content and hopefully read more of it, but it’ll make a nicely balanced addition to the side of your blog. And for SEO, it’ll add more back-links to those pages.

Tags are another thing to put on the side of your blog. These are the tags you put on your posts contained in a box. They are generally in various sizes depending upon their usage, and the larger they are, the more they’re used. Not only does this box usually look pretty on a sidebar, it increases your SEO in two ways: 1) it adds your keywords to each of your blog pages and 2) it adds a page to your blog for each tag. And adding a page for tags also allows users to click on a tag they’re interested in, then to see all the posts on your blog with that tag.

The Facebook Social Plugin can really spice up your sidebar. The Facebook Social Plugin displays your wall on every page it’s placed on to all people logged into Facebook.

3. Add Pictures to Make Content More Dynamic

Many people think of blogs as solely consisting of text. However, a blog is yet another place where often “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Three great places to add interesting images are in your posts, on your sidebar, and in your header.

In posts, images can help add to your point, but they also break up your text and make your document more aesthetically pleasing.

On the sidebar, people sometimes put a picture of themselves or their company logo. The Blogger platform usually has an option like this built in.

An original or at least interesting header can help make a blog memorable. Consider designing your own header in Photoshop or Gimp to really spruce up your blog.

4. Formatting, Header Tags, and Font

Formatting, header tags, and font are the crux of blog design. If you keep just the three of them in mind while designing your blog, your blog will look fabulous in no time.

Luckily, all three are interrelated, and there are really only four things to focus on. First, keep paragraphs under seven lines. It makes your writing easier to read and looks nicer.

Second, break up paragraphs with header tags (or). Not only does this make your blog look nicer, it makes it easier to scan for information and helps the reader digest the material easier by breaking things into idea-based chunks. Usually, you want to try to have less than three paragraphs under a header; however, sometimes the context calls for it (for instance, this section with five paragraphs).

Third, choose body text with readability in mind. Though the spirit often moves bloggers to put fanciful, nearly unintelligible fonts on their blogs, don’t do it! Few people reading blogs have the time or patience to struggle through something so difficult. Keep this in mind when choosing font colors–ask yourself, “how does it interrelate with all the other colors on the blog?”

Fourth, keep your body fonts 12-14 pixels. This is a very easy size for most people to read. Anything larger can look goofy, and anything smaller is difficult to discern.

5. Optimize Your Blog For Better Search Engine Optimization

A misnomer about blog design is that SEO is difficult and something entirely about search engines. Nothing could be further from the truth: SEO is rather simple if you know what you’re doing and optimizing your pages for people will increase your SEO in many ways. Let’s focus on three elements.

First, keyword rich titles are loved by people and search engines. If you name your post with relevant keywords, then people searching on Google may come across it. And this could draw new readers. However, this will also allow people to know what your post is about so after they’ve read other of your posts they can know if they want to read this one as well.

Next, include alt tags and captions. When you place an image into your blog, you can put information about the picture into the html code itself. The things to pay attention to are the alt tag, the title tag, and captions. These will help your SEO, and help people to better understand your pictures. You want to put your keywords into the alt tag; a keyword rich title into the title tag; and a user-centered caption under the picture in the post.

Finally, link to other blog posts when relevant with keyword rich anchor text. To get people to read other of your blog posts, it’s very easy to link to other posts when related to the topic you’re currently blogging about. This not only adds a back-link for the other blog post, but signals to the readers that they should check out more of your blog.

With these five design tips, you should be able to make your blog look stunning in just a few days. So, stop surfing the web and start designing your blog today.

This guest article was written by Missy Diaz who works for various clients including Tim a website builder provider on the web.

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by AMagill

11 Responses leave one →
  1. October 27, 2011

    Good tips, but you are missing out on key ingredients like white space and positioning.

  2. October 30, 2011

    Another thing that search engines like is fresh and quality content on your blog. You should update your blog on a regular basis with new content and mix up your keywords. You can include your keywords in your title and description tags to rank better for those particular keywords. Other than that, nice points and thanks for sharing.

  3. October 31, 2011

    Nice tips. My biggest tip is to keep it simple and have plenty of white space – just like on this site. It’s nice and easy on the eyes and lets you focus on the content.

  4. November 2, 2011

    Good tips!I’m going to apply it soon.Thanks again!

  5. November 7, 2011

    I am gearing up to make a new design for my page. Your tips are great for designing a functional blog. I am going to see what I can find out about color choices. I know every blog has their own intent and feel, I think I need to move into a more modern and streamlined look for my site…at least for now. The greatest things about it is I can try out whatever I want, as often as I want..hey it’s my blog! lol

  6. December 2, 2011

    Good tips!I’m going to apply it soon.Thanks again!

  7. December 14, 2011

    Nice tips thanks for sharing us your idea it can help…

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