Has anyone ever told you that when she loads your blog, her head spins and her eardrums shrivel up? She’s probably too nice to say it. If you have a garish layout, even the most well-written, informative, groundbreaking, and/or crucial post will simply not get read, because people will click away.
And you don’t need that.
What you do need is a good long weekend with your blogging platform, some simple tools, and Brittany Vanderlinden’s “Is Your Blog Beautiful?” series on Mommywords, which is intended for newbies and veterans alike.
If you have been at this awhile, stretch your design muscles and take a new look at what you have created. You may need some organization. You may need to clean house. It is possible that your current theme/design is not working for the varied content you are creating. Whether you are a novice or a pro – it is worth the time to evaluate how your blog looks and feels to a reader.
As a meticulous person who thrives on details, Vanderlinden was “the go-to girl for presentations” when she was an investment banker. “I spent my days perfecting presentations to make to the heads of Fortune 500 companies and had to notice every little thing.” Now that she is a stay-at-home mom and a blogger, she says “I love that with blogs everyone has their own style, but I think that personal style in any form can mesh with good design. I also believe that if I can learn to do it myself then everyone can do at least simple things without spending a lot of money on design.”
In her series about blog design, Vanderlinden selflessly shares the tips and procedures she’s picked up over years of publishing Mommywords. “My ideas come from all over the blogosphere and from actively tracking the looks of some of the best blogs out there as well as regularly checking out the sites of web designers and their portfolios. This way I see a lot more than just Mom Blogs or social media sites.”
(Notice how she capitalized “Mom Blogs?” Oh yeah. Details.)
“Is Your Blog Beautiful?” started off with a comprehensive analysis and comparison of headers, using sites whose headers she admires as examples. In the second post, Vanderlinden focuses on sidebars:
Your blog is all about content, but all this other stuff you want people to see has to go somewhere. Your options include inside the header, in your sidebar(s), in your footer or even floating on your background. Today, we’re talking about where most people put stuff…the sidebar.
(Twice now Vanderlinden has scoffed at the idea that content is king…which is my own personal blog’s tagline. I’m starting to feel self-conscious.)
But Vanderlinden doesn’t just opine in general, she actually gets down and dirty and uses words like “pixel” and acronyms like “HTML” and tells you how to fiddle with your widgets. This is one series of posts that probably took her at least three naptimes to complete. So is anyone reading? Vanderlinden says heck yeah.
The response to my series has been great. Although I do not have a huge following on my blog, I have gained new followers and had very positive responses from my readers and from web designers who read the posts. I have also been able to help a lot of people directly with coding to get things the way they want. That feels good. I will be honest, I got a bigger response to my post on Headers and Navigation but I think that most people would focus on that more than their sidebar. Also, both the posts are getting a lot of hits without comments. I think the SEO of the posts will be very good for my blog long term.
The “Is Your Blog Beautiful?” series will continue with posts about content and comments, footer and other leftovers, and a finale that brings it all together. In each, the beautiful blogs of the ‘sphere will be used as examples. Vanderlinden is also at work on a travel website for kids in the Carolinas that launches later this month, and has given her the opportunity to stretch her own design muscles. Because even supermodels need to work out sometimes.