Blog Design: What It Should Be
I’m translating a How To Desing Blogs article by Ezequiel Bruni.
Hello friends. As designers, each of us works in different styles and usually gravitates to different types of projects. For me, these are content-oriented websites and there is nothing more suitable than a good old blog.
For people who have their own blogs, the benefits are obvious:
- Flexible format. Complete freedom to discuss various topics. Even if the blog has a central theme, they can break away from it from time to time to explore other ideas that interest them;
- Entries can be either short or long as you like;
- Entries do not have to contain text. Video and photo blogs can be attractive and popular;
- Blogs can be used to become someone as an expert in their field, thereby increasing business opportunities;
- Blogs are incredibly easy to create thanks to services such as WordPress.com, Blogger and so on.
Blogs haven't changed much
Regardless of the type of blog, they are all built on the following system:
- The main page with the latest entries (in full or as a list);
- A list of categories, usually in the sidebar;
- Archives of articles by date;
- Separate articles with comments;
- About page and / or Contacts page.
This is not a bad structure that works and is familiar to many of us. Although this does not mean that you should adhere to it.
Our work as designers is not only to make sure that the text is large enough for reading, but the menu is easily defined, or the buttons are large enough to be pressed. We solve problems. We are sure that users can easily and quickly find what they are looking for. We have just seconds to interest readers and keep them on our site, so we need to get creative.
In this article, I am going to look at the details that are common to most blogs. We will learn how we could make them more convenient to use, more attractive, if I may say so.
One of the problems with the sidebar is that it distracts me too often from the content. It can be a colorful animated ad, which is even worse if it is with sound and without a button to turn it off. Or the sidebar itself conflicts with the rest of the site. At times, blog owners manage to shove the unwelcome into the sidebar of their blog. This leads to the fact that the sidebar is much longer than the article.
For example, placing five years of archives sorted by month in one sidebar is not a good idea. This may annoy some people: “Why should this sidebar be twice as high as my 1600 display? 900. "
Now let's be honest. I'm not saying that you need to get rid of the sidebar at all. When I leaf through my personal blog, I intend to use the sidebar for some pretty important things. I want to say that sidebars should not be stuffed with additional information and widgets, and they should not dominate the page. Their purpose is navigation aids. Let's treat them that way. If you want to show more information than can fit in the sidebar, show it elsewhere.
I would like to talk about individual posts before moving on to the home page. Because this is the most important thing on a blog. And the main page will rarely be the starting point of a user’s blog journey. More often, the journey begins with individual posts to which users get from search results, links given by friends or other services.
For this reason, make sure that the user can easily navigate further through the site, the navigation menu, search are available on each page of your blog. Perhaps visitors are not only looking for what is outlined in this article. Reading a blog, a visitor makes new discoveries for himself, and it is more profitable for us to speed up this process of discoveries. Users are more likely to click on an attractive headline than search for a category link to see what similar articles are on your site. Therefore, you must provide links to other content - and not necessarily similar. The main thing is interesting.
It would not be bad to tell a little about yourself on each page. If you do this as part of a short paragraph, you could place this information in the sidebar. If there is more text, you could place it under the article, where users will see it after reading the article.
Summarizing this part, remember that you should spend more time on your content and its design. Since, most likely, your content is what people see first.
Many people build the home page of their blog as if it would be the first thing that every user sees. This is mistake. More often than not, regular readers only start by browsing the homepage. And also visitors who, after reading the entry, clicked on the “Home” item in the menu.
Tumblelog is a kind of blog, with the difference that a record can only be of a certain format (quote, video, link, song, conversation, etc.). This is something like a regular blog, but unlike it, this system for keeping notes and notes is more like not a diary, but a draft or notebook
If you do not keep a tumblore, I would recommend displaying nothing more than a title, announcement, and thumbnail. Blogs that display posts entirely on the home page force visitors to twist and turn down to make sure they don’t miss a thing. Some people have decided this by posting a list of recent entries in the sidebar, but I see this as redundant. Such a list can be useful on every page of the blog, except the main one.
Of course, this is not the only design option for the blog home page. There are other ways to present the content, but I believe that this approach is the most reasonable from the point of view of the reader. Need more evidence? Look at the sites of newspapers or magazines. All of them display links to the latest articles in each of the main categories.
Most blogs have published posts with a publication date. This allows users to navigate through site content by month or year. If you write about design trends, technology reviews, political issues, or anything else that depends on the date, that certainly makes sense.
However, chronological navigation is not always necessary. Explore your content. If you write about things that do not change in a hurry, like past historical events or animal breeds, you completely abandon time navigation.
Look for other ways to organize content based on your topic. Categories will never go out of style. Using an example of art topics, you could design your blog in such a way that people can view your posts by the artists or artistic styles mentioned in this post.
Ah, the comments. A place where everyone can virtually meet with people to discuss this post (without offtopic, pointless debate or insults). Comments can provide invaluable feedback, and user engagement and interaction can bring your readers to your site again and again.
I've seen a lot of blog designs, and their main problem is that the comment area is too small. This is especially a problem when you consider two things:
- Nested comments are the standard these days. The area of the content of the responses to the comments, as a rule, becomes smaller and smaller with each subsequent response.
- The problem above can be exacerbated when the site design is “pouring” (block width as a percentage).
My decision? The comment section should be as wide as possible.
Thumbnail, blogging image via Paolo Valdemarin