Today’s guest post is from Polina, who runs a nice web design platform. You probably want your blog to look gorgeous. But you’re not a designer, and you’re not quite ready to hire one, either. You have an awesome idea in your head and you try to DIY things, but the end result always ends up looking… a bit off (or more than a bit).
As a web designer, I’ve work on a lot of websites that have been DIY-ed – and they don’t look bad at all! But they’re not QUITE there… they don’t look all that professional. Something is missing, something is off, and the blogger just can’t put their finger on it.
After designing and re-designing LOTS of blogs, I’ve taken note of the most common design mistakes – and they’re actually pretty easy to fix! So today, I’m sharing with you 9 tricks that will instantly elevate the design of your blog – and no, you don’t need any design or tech knowledge, or complex software!
Let’s dive right in, shall we??
1. Text Size.
I keep seeing blogs with HUGE text. Or the other extreme – tiny text. Time for some tough love guys – both of these are hard to read and simply annoying to the readers.
Huge text comes across as shouting in your readers’ faces, and can make you look like an obnoxious marketing person going “Blog posts! Freebies!! Courses!! Get you best blog stuff riight over here!” Don’t get me wrong – it’s ok to use it once in awhile, especially on sales pages, where readers are already in a buying mood. But keep it to a minimum – once on a regular page, two or three times on a long (sales) page.
Tiny text, on the other hand, comes across as being timid and speaking really quietly. It looks cute and it looks minimal, but it IS hard to read, no matter how you style it. Save it for footers, disclaimers, and other bottom-of-page things.
When you’re DIY-ing your blog, fonts are super fun to play with – I know that. And there’s so many nice free fonts out there, you want to use them all… don’t. There are several problems with using a ton of fonts:
– They don’t match. You know how the more colors you wear, the harder it is to make your outfit match? Would you wear red heels, green socks and a dress with blue flowers topped with a pink hat? Didn’t think so.
Same with fonts. The more you have, the less they will match. Just pick ONE fancy decorative handwritten font for highlighting things, and one or two regular fonts for the rest.
– Decorative fonts are not very readable. Use the handwritten fonts only for a couple of words that you want to highlight – not for every title on your blog. Long text written in deco font is very hard and annoying to read.
– Consistent branding. If you want your branding to be cohesive and to convey a personality, you can’t have different fonts all over your site. It will look like a bunch of people made something and stitched it together.
Whatever you do, pick a maximum of three fonts and stick with them. And make sure only one of them is decorative – the other two must be regular serif or sans-serif fonts.
I see a lot of clean, well-designed websites, and a bunch of random photos that look so out of place. Photos are a VERY prominent element on your blog. For a professional, consistent design, your photos must match each other, as well as the feel of your blog.
An easy way to do this is to edit all your photos in a similar way – even if you’re using a simple app. For example, I always use the same filter and adjustments on my instagram photos. Another way is to have a photography corner and props ready in your room. For example, always take photos on your white desk and use pink props.
Another common mistake I often see is using different colors everywhere. Many bloggers get a customizable WordPress or Blogger template, then play around and set a different color every time they change something. The professional way to go is to have a color guide. It’s actually really fun (and easy!) to make one. I wrote a detailed post explaining how to do this yourself.
As a designer, this is one of my biggest pet peeves: a beautiful photo, pretty font, and catchy blog post title… All great by themselves, but completely unreadable when put together!
Some easy ways to fix this:
– Put a transparent (or solid) shape below the text. It will hide some of the photo, but the reader won’t mind that – instead, they’ll be able to read the title and click through to your post.
– Look for (or take) photos with free space to place your text.
– Don’t use very thin fonts
– Contrast – don’t use white text on light areas, or black text on dark areas.
– Most importantly – don’t put text over busy images!
To look professional, you need a logo. No seat – you don’t have to break the bank paying a designer. You can make one yourself by putting some cool fonts together (preferably, the fonts you already use on your website). Use free and easy tools such as Canva. Once you’re done, you can also post it in various Facebook groups (such as Melyssa Griffin’s Blog + Biz BFFs) and ask for feedback so you can improve it!
Don’t forget to grab the free checklist I created for you right here!
I see TONS of bloggers putting a huge logo or title in the site header. It usually looks very nice… But you end up wasting lots of valuable space! Your site header is the first thing people see when entering your blog. They might not scroll down and see anything else, but they will see the header. Make it count! Use a nice photo of yourself. Or go even further, and put an email opt-in for there (you’ll need a bit of coding skills for this, or a tool such as Leadpages).
A small but important detail! Making buttons react when people hover over makes them clickable. You’ll need a bit of CSS code for this – here’s an article on how to do it!
Adding one is also a small but super fun touch to your posts! You can put it together in Canva, or you can actually take a photo of your own signature on a piece of paper and use that. It’s super easy if you’re on WordPress – you just need this plugin, it adds it automatically to every post on your blog!
Alright! That’s my design advice for today. I hope it was helpful! And in case you didn’t do so already, here’s the link to download the free checklist once again.
Will you apply these tips to your blog? Have you used any of them already? Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments!