Let’s use the example of books, because if you’re here, I’m assuming that (a) you write and/or (b) you read.
When’s the last time you picked up a book with a terrible cover? Or, even worse: when’s the last time you picked up a book that had terrible interior layout?
I think I did, a bit reluctantly, about a month ago. The book wasn’t so bad in content. But it was really, really, REALLY hard to get past my snobby opinion of the design, including the font choice (which was a little less than hard to read) and the page layout. And the editorial errors throughout? Well, yes, I consider those part of the design. It’s a package, and this package could have done a lot better at making what was a pretty good book into a far better book.
Content is king, but design matters. The same is true for your blog or website design.
There’s something to be said for different opinions of what looks good, so here’s my advice to you.
1. Do some research.
What sites look good? Make a list of why you think they look good or what elements you like. Try to find the underlying element to it: do you like the sidebars because they don’t have much in them? Do you like the way things are organized? Design doesn’t have to cost you money (though it can, and a lot of it). You can pull this off on the cheap, but you have to put some time in seeing what works and what you like.
2. Keep it UNcluttered.
This is a particular weakness of mine. There is SO! MUCH! I want to share in my sidebars especially, and keeping things uncluttered is hard.
3. Make it easy to use.
Your blog or website has to be easy to use, functional, intuitive. Period. My test is whether a certain family member, who loves me very much but is a little bit computer-challenged, can easily navigate through my site. If so, I consider it golden. If not, then it’s time to rework some things.
4. Stay true to you.
Years ago, in grad school, I read a copy of the Fast Company classic “The Brand Called You.” The idea of myself as a brand has stuck with me. Whether you like it or not, YOU are a brand. You stand for something. What is it? Or maybe it would be easier to answer if I ask it this way: What do you want it to be? Stay true to that. As a Catholic wife, mom, and writer who lives on a farm, I have a brand that includes prayer, poopy diapers, a husband, and shoes in my mudroom that have a fragrance all their own.
5. Have fun.
I tend to say this a lot in one form or another. Smile. Have fun. Enjoy yourself. Because you know what? God’s not calling you to do something that makes you miserable.
A few resources:
I didn’t want to leave you with just my advice when there’s so much good stuff available online. Here are a few things I found to share:
- The 30 Best Designed Blogs of 2011
- 27 Blog Designs with Amazing Design and Functionality
- 10 Important Traits of a Great Blog Design
What tips do have to share? Feel free to chime in with your favorite designs and ideas (because I’m all eyes!).
image source: MorgueFile