Actually much of the important thinking that goes into a great blog design has nothing to do with colours or layouts, it’s to do with the purpose of the blog – this will drive everything. The packaging is just the packaging – it’s still important but something that should be designed around the content.
1. An objective
So the first question, way before thinking about layouts and colours is to ask two questions: ‘What is this blog’s purpose? and ‘Who is it for?’ The key to a successful, blog strategy is to know who you want to talk to and what you want to achieve by doing so. For example; ‘this blog is to promote the potential of reclaimed wood as a design material and I would like it to be read by Architects.’
2. A content strategy
Once you know who you’re targeting, in the above example, you can start putting a content strategy together. To create a sustainable content strategy you need three things:
– An editorial calendar with blog titles pre-agreed, including keywords.
– An image bank – particularly important for the example above as Architects are very visual people.
– A blog marketing plan for promoting content through social media, PR news discovery and email.
3. A modern, branded layout
If you have a website, there’s usually a built in template for a blog. They’re not always great though. Blogs should look different to the usual pages on a website – they’re news pages after all and should look like news pages.
A good guide for your blog page is to look at the news sites in your particular sector and see how they present their stories.
4. Social share buttons
You want to make sure that your content is easily shareable with buttons appearing below or to the side of both the blog home page on each post, plus on the main blog when you click through. Not only does this make it easy to share the content but also offers a social validation of the value of the content, e.g., a post with 100+ shares on Twitter or Likes on Facebook must be worth reading.
5. Newsletter sign-up
One of the objectives of most blogs should be to win the email address of the person visiting. Therefore a newsletter sign-up box should be included within the design.
6. Calls to action
Again, to capture the email addresses of readers and potential customers, each blog should have a call to action at the end of it, offering further reading in return for an email address. Typically this could be an eBook or a Tip Sheet.
7. Categories & search box
As your content grows. The ability to find stuff on your blog will become increasingly important to visitors so there should always be a search box and a category listing included.
8. Permalink structure
As organic search is still an incredibly important part of any content strategy, the permalink structure of your URLs should display the post name, not the post id (usually a random series of numbers).
And that’s essentially it in terms of the basics of design for a blog. Interesting that I’ve hardly touched on graphic design. Essentially all the blog designer has to do is make sure the blog design follows the brand book in terms of fonts, colours, logos and graphics, added into one of the very good templates now available.
Photo: mkhmarketing/flickr cc