I have been blogging for years now and I've been making customized blog designs for people for quite awhile as well. Your blog or website is a place where you'll want to express yourself and your personality, but many bloggers make the mistake of not taking their readers into account when they design their blog. I was one of those bloggers when I first started out and hired someone to design my first blog (this was before I knew how to do it myself). Over the years I've learned a great deal about what makes a blog design functional; both as a blogger and as a blog reader. Here are some of the more common blogging mistakes people make with their blog designs:
Black post backgroundThis is a mistake and a massive one, at that. I was guilty of it myself when I first started blogging. I had a black posting background and fuschia text. I thought it was fabulous! It certainly looked vibrant and gorgeous! Trouble was, no one could read my posts without developing a migraine. Myself included. If no one can read your posts, no one is going to visit your blog. And while you may think this rule only applies to black/fuschia combinations, it also applies to black/white combinations. It's just not easy to read anything that's been written on a black background. If you absolutely insist on having a black background, gray is probably the best color choice for your text.
Narrow posting columnsIf you only post 200 or 300 words at a time, a narrow posting column is ok. If you write 2000 word posts, this is going to make for lots of scrolling and few people have the patience for such things unless your writing is utterly captivating. When I create a blog template for someone I never use less than 500px for the post column width; anything else is just too narrow and will not make the text easy to read.
Centered photosA centered photo at the top of your blog post followed by a space and then a paragraph of text below it is not professional looking. Nor is it easy on the eyes as it creates a break in the overall view. Your photos should be floating left or right and your blog post text should be wrapped around them. This is easy to do in Blogger, just select which side you want it to float on when you upload your pic. Unless you've got a panoramic photo, obviously, in which case it will look fine at the top.
Too many widgetsJust because there are 5 million blogger widgets out there doesn't mean you need 4.5 million of them on your blog. The more widgets you've got, the longer it takes your blog to load and the more cluttered your blog looks. Both of these things annoy readers, even if only on a subconscious level. It's fine to have a few widgets, but don't overdo it.
Too many ads / badly placed adsIf you want to monetize your blog that's cool, but you don't need to have 5 types of ads all over the place - if you do that makes readers feel like all you care about is showing them your ads. A few well placed ads are fine and unobtrusive, but if you've got ads in every section you are going to put people off. Also, be sure to align them properly as ads that sit out of the border of your sidebar make it look like you don't know how to use them.
Unreadable fontsYes, there are many fonts available but no, that doesn't mean they're all going to be easily read. Arial is the font I tend to use most often when making blog designs for people, but Tahoma and other simple sans serif fonts are just as good. You don't want something hard on readers eyes, you want something they can read quickly. Occasionally I have used Georgia but that's as serify as I'd get in terms of blog fonts.
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