The best style blogs are first and foremost the ones that have a message to communicate or a problem to solve and do it by providing great content. Before you get overly concerned with the look of your blog you need to understand that the main reason people visit blogs is to gain access to quality content. Some of the most highly visited blogs I have found have used standard format templates and just got on with the business of communicating with their target audience.
Its also worth noting that search engines can’t tell the difference between a highly polished, all singing and all dancing blog any more than they can a bog standard off the shelf template that comes as your starter for ten. Search engines look primarily at text and relate that text to enquiries entered into their search boxes. Also as things stand at the moment, many of the tools that provide a wow factor for a blog in terms of visual presentation are pretty much impenetrable to the search engines, and can easily leave them flaying about in the dark when it comes to trying to interpret the content of a blog.
So to get traffic coming to your blog, these are the first priorities:
- Create great content
- Identify the keywords that will bring the content to the attention of the target audience
- Utilise a design that is search engine friendly with plenty of text
Once you have achieved that, you can then move on to what is going to keep your audience on your blog and get them returning time and again for more of that great content. This is where two more aspects kick in:
Functionality relates firstly to how easy it is to navigate your blog to find information and secondly to actual physical functionality. In other words what is the level of satisfaction your visitors will get when they arrive on your blog in terms of a good user experience through the user interface. Does everything work, especially links to other parts of the blog or external references. People may forgive you for a video that repeatedly buffers up, because to an extent you are subject to speed of their machine and the bandwidth they have available. But put in features, that you are entirely responsible for, that don’t work and you will be on a slippery slope to oblivion. So you need to take care of these details, there is software available for example that can detect and flag broken links. Just type in ‘broken links checker’ in the plugin search box for a whole list of options.
Best Style for Blogs
OK its taken a little while to get to what you came here for and this topic is a little subjective so consequently requires a little bit of experimentation on your part to find out what works and what doesn’t.
Clearly a good starting point are the top blogs for a particular topic, for example if you are writing about blogging then a clear example of how to do it is the way ‘Problogger’ has configured and styled his blog. A nice clean looking blog with a white background and a simple logo that everyone can identify with. Interesting that everywhere you find Problogger’s presence the theme has been followed and this is because it is now a recognised brand and is immediately associated to his work whenever a visitor sees it.
There are lessons to take from this, it is often a case that ‘less is more’ to coin a phrase. Over complicating a design style can often turn people off, they get overawed by a site that is too busy and may struggle to see how they can use the site from a navigation viewpoint or may be presented with so much information at once that they decide it isn’t worth the effort.
Better then to keep the design relatively simple and lead people gently into their topic of choice. Put the emphasis instead into subtle colour schemes that contrast well and compliment one another. Select font that is easy to read and large enough to ensure your visitors don’t have to squint to see it. Use grid patterns to organise information into clearly defined sectors, doesn’t mean you can’t be imaginative, but does help visitors take in the information and follow your blog theme. It is also a good idea to try and establish a brand by utilising a clearly recognisable logo, look or phrase.
It can actually be more difficult to keep things simple than it is to get over complicated.
You may be wondering why the title of the post was discussed last. The reason that the ‘best style blogs’ aspect was discussed at the latter part of this article is because that is really where it fits in the overall scheme of things. So as was stated at the beginning of this post, don’t get overly concerned with the look of your blog too soon, working on content and directing traffic to your blog needs to take precedence. You can have the most beautiful blog in the world, but that’s not much use if you are the only one that ever sees it. That is not to distract from the need to make a blog appealing, especially if you want people to share your content on social media sites or through mobile platforms, but is an aspect that can be dealt with once you have worked out the content you want to share with an audience.
Images courtesy of PhotoXpress