Just think PRETTY. As a blogger, I am always searching for ways to improve my website design to attract new visitors and keep it visually appealing for the ones that visit on a consistent basis! Let's face it, Blogging is a shallow business. A lot of it is based around looks and first impressions. If you don't have a well designed website, you may as well retire it. If your following is not increasing, than consider this: your website design may be to blame! It's unfortunate because I'm sure you are putting a lot of time and effort into researching topics, creating, and writing fresh content for your site and even still it is not making a difference. It can get quite frustrating! With that said, I'd like to help!
THE BASICS OF WEBSITE DESIGN
Let's discuss the basics:
- Do have a clutter free design. White or Negative space is your friend. No need to have every square inch of your website accounted for. Clutter will only create visual overload. There is such a thing as too much information to process. You don't want to over stimulate your visitors.
- Do choose a color scheme. Before you do, you may want to consider the message you want to send out to visitors. Every color has a meaning which can evoke a specific emotion. A great post to read on this is Color: Meaning, Symbolism and Psychology by Squidoo.com. Also, a consistent color scheme is easier to process and the colors you choose should compliment each other. Try to choose high contrast colors; they tend to be more eye catching and fun! Not sure which colors work best with each other? No problem, try using the triadic color scheme from webdesign tuts+. You can also check out some examples of visually appealing color schemes below:
- Since your Header or Logo is the most important element of your website design, be sure it is easily visible and distinguishable. Not sure about the design? You can never go wrong with simple. Simple does not mean boring. Graphics, Illustrations, and photographs should be displayed clearly. Images in particular should be properly exposed and proportioned. I can't tell you how many times I've visited a site that has a HUGE blog header with a stretched out image where the subject appears ridiculously wide! It's really a turn off and screams CARELESS!
- If you decide to use a background, do choose one that compliments your header. Backgrounds that work better than others are ones with little contrast or contain small prints. As an alternative, try using a texture! These look great!
- Do take your time when choosing fonts for your website. Fonts, specifically for your posts, should be simple, clean, and easy to read. Leave the fancy cursive fonts behind. Font size and color is also extremely important. If you have a light background like white, a dark font like black would work well. Just as dark fonts work best on light backgrounds light fonts work best on dark backgrounds. High contrast makes your text easier to read and reduces eye strain. Font size should be at least 10 pt in size. Be careful though, a too large font can be distracting!
- Do use grids or columns on your page. They are perfect for keeping content separated, organized, and neat!
- Align, Align, Align! Content within your columns should be appropriately aligned. There is nothing worse than a text or image collection aligned all over the place. For instance, blog buttons that you may have displayed in your sidebar should ALL be aligned to the right, left, or center. One button should not be aligned left, and the next centered. This can make a website look sloppy!
- Do use photographs in your posts. More importantly, they should utilize the entire width of your posting area. A pet peeve of mine is reading a post that is almost the entire width of my computer screen and then seeing thumbnail images used. Yes, this is an extreme example but, trust me, these websites are out there!
- Do without flash graphics, animations, and other distracting elements. It can be the difference between a professional website and a gaudy one! Remember, less is more!
- Do use Headers, Post Titles, or Headliners. Again, be careful when considering which fonts to use for these. Larger fonts in this case are appropriate. Also, don't be afraid to italicize, use CAPS, or bold your text. The important thing to remember is to use these affects sparingly!
- Do make it as easy as possible for visitors to navigate. Icons, buttons, and graphics should remain consistent with the design of your website and linkable images should ALWAYS open in new windows.
- Do avoid pop ups if at all possible. Most people find them annoying and if people can't find the box to close it out, you may just lose a visitor. I don't know how many sites I've left because I could not figure out how to close out the window! It's so frustrating!
- Do not use music if you want your visitors to read your content. It's only a distraction. I can barely proof this post with The Lion King playing in the background! Of course I have no choice; the little one is entranced.
- Do remember to have fun! The design should be the fun part! Worry about content later.
So, what do you think? I know it's a lot to take in but I hope you find these tips helpful! Are there any tips you think I missed or should be included on this list? Feel free to drop me a comment, I'd love to hear them!
If you missed my previous post Bull Ride? None for me thanks!, feel free to check it out! Also, if you have an extra 5 seconds, feel free to vote on my poll at the top of my page in my sidebar to the right! I would really appreciate it!