As blog design has evolved, getting a theme has become easier. Premium themes have become more advanced and allow for simpler customization to be done by the owner. However, just because you buy a theme and use it straight out of the box from a site like WooThemes doesn’t mean you have a design that “works.”
Custom themes are becoming more and more of a necessity rather than a luxury, and bloggers are becoming more involved in the coding and technical aspects of their design. More and more people are starting to do it themselves, and relying on their own skills rather than the skills of others.
Some just outsource the work to others. But still, more and more people understand the importance of a blog design, and are investing their time and money into getting one that works.
As someone who has always created a custom theme for his blogs, I can definitely tell you that it pays off. But, it’s not easy to just start designing.
As a minor continuation of an article I published last week which I revealed how I learned to design, I created a checklist of things you need to make sure your blog design has in order for it to be a success.
Now I have written a lot about design in the past few weeks. I suggest you go through the design category here and read over the articles in there. They are highly informative, and will help you make some important decisions about your blog design.
The Designers Checklist
For those of you who are diving into the world of custom blog designing, I suggest you make sure all the following elements are intact with any design you put out.
1. The “WOW” Factor
There should be something about your design that on first glance will amaze anyone who looks at it. The more aesthetically pleasing you can make your blog (without losing functionality), the better it will be for your “WOW” factor.
Your “WOW” factor can be anything really. It can be something simple like your logo, some nice typography, or even the colors you use. If you’re more advanced in graphics design, you can create cool illustrations and place them throughout your design. See: Tutorial9′s header.
2. Easy navigation
Every part of your blog needs to be easily accessible. From the navigation links in your header, to the archives page, navigation is one of the most important parts of your blog design. If no one can get anywhere, what’s the point of viewing your blog?
There are many forms of navigation. You can design how people travel through your site in any way you want. But, when it comes to navigating – you need to keep it simple. Being innovative is great, but getting too fancy in your navigation is risky.
Smashing Magazine has a giant list of some nice navigation trends, if you think seeing them will help you come up with some cool navigation elements.
This is an important element too, especially on a blog design. The one thing that should be emphasized the most on a blog is, without question, the content area.
All throughout Design Versus Week, I talked about two different elements of a blog design that had impact on how much your content stands out.
Since blogs are often packed full of information, it’s easy to create clutter and end up with less emphasis on the things you want to stand out. A lot of bloggers’ go wrong by filling their design with ads, and for that, well – you’re on your own.
What’s so memorable about the blog design you have? When I visit a blog that has a premium theme I’ve seen dozens of times, it’s obviously not memorable for its own look, but for the look it shares with dozens, if not hundreds of other blogs.
Have some sort of element that is unique to your own blog. Even if it’s a custom theme that isn’t anything great, you still have a better chance of it being remembered because it’s unique to YOUR blog.
5. Minor Details
The smaller details of a blog design are often left uncared-for. I blame the name of it, it’s called minor details. Of course not many people know to take care of those things.
But the truth it, the minor details (such as the font used in the body, or an icon being placed in the sidebar) are just as important as anything else. I believe that you don’t need a design with flashy graphics or complex illustrations, so long as you take into account the smaller, finer details.
What’s on your list?
When you go to change your blog design, what are the things you look for? I told you five of the many things I look at when I design my blogs, so I’m interested in hearing some of the things you look at.
Contribute to 2.0!
I plan to write a checklist 2.0, and want to include your suggestions in it. I want this to get big guys (I’m talking a possible free, comprehensive eBook one day), so give me all of your suggestions for the next version of this list!