how to design your blog, tips for blog design, how to make your blog look good, tips for making a blog
LOL, double check your graphics.

Hi guys!

I'm a bit of a web aesthetics snob at times: I will roll my eyes and click off of blogs with red text, narrow layout or a wonky look in general. But my mind was seriously blown the first time I encountered an intentionally ugly blog. I was all 'yes, girl! Weaponise all your html + css knowledge'. I'm also never satisfied with how my own blog looks -- there's always an element/design alteration for which I can't find a tutorial. It can be frustrating and also why I'm unlikely to ever buy a template. As someone who enjoys reading blogs and lurves noseying in other people's lives and minds virtually, here are seven things, aside from content, that keep me on a blog and coming back for more. These things are what I think we can all attempt and see if our layouts don't look better.

1. Declutter your template

The are more than 900 blogger widgets currently, a number of which can be customised and used repeatedly and in different ways. This does not mean we should use each one -- but goodness did I try when I first started blogging! I even had an annoying html gadget that automatically played music when you clicked onto this blog!  I've had those 'grab one' buttons from other bloggers too. Another thing that, try as I may, I just can't make myself do it and that's the double sidebars! I just feel my content gets smothered. A blogger who does this look well is Lauren over at Glossary. It works for her. But do your best to make your template as sleek and organised as you possibly can. I'm constantly editing things in or out.

2. Readable Font

Dark font on a light background and a good size makes things easy for everyone. Computer, tablet and phone screens are hard enuf on the eyes, cut your readers some slack.

3. Images

Ok, I know I said these were things that made me want to read blogs in addition to content quality but I have to add this. Tiny or blury pictures do a disservice to your content. When I first started I took pictures and uploaded them directly to blogger and selected 'small' or 'medium' on the resizing tab. Not a good look. I now resize all my pictures to 650, upload them using html (hosted on photobucket) or directly to blogger and select 'use original size'.

4. Think About The Tags Gadget

This is another petty preference of mine. The tags cloud or list is made up of ALL the terms, phrases and words you've ever used to tag posts (unless said tag was deleted). Adding this gadget imports all these words to your sidebar. My problem, though, is seeing things that have nothing to do with your regular blogging/what you talk about often. I've used my tag cloud on my sidebar ~all the pieces~ as a navigation tool for people who read this blog to find the categories in which my ramblings usually fall: beauty, wardrobe, my writing, inspo etc etc. This, of course, is my preference and it gives this blog a less-cluttered look.

5. Make Things Easy For Your Readers

Do people who visit your blog for the first time know how to look for specific things? Is it Easy for them to contact you or skip posts they don't find interesting? Yup, not everyone will find every single post we write interesting. Is there a way to opt out of those posts? I will usually put a break in my wordy, personal posts as a way of saying "hey, if this isn't something you're interested in, you don't have to scroll through the hundreds of words I've written, skip on over to my other posts." I guess captcha (the text and numbers blogger uses to make commenters verify that they aren't bots) falls into this category too. It's up to you to decide whether it's worth it weighed against the fact that a lot of internet folk hate it. As a rule I try to get the captca (or word verification) correctly twice, if it doesn't work then ah well, I'll eat my comment. If you're afraid of getting spammed then maybe set up comment approval and see how that goes.

6. Get Mobile Friendly

This is a personal crusade of mine as I do a LOT of my blog reading on my crappy phone. I have gone weeks not reading some blogs, missed a lot of my favourite bloggers' posts because of this. Not everyone does their interneting sitting in front of a computer. Enable your mobile template and make it easier for those of us reading you on the move to keep up. If I open your blog and it crashes my shitty mobile browser, best believe I'll stop trying. Also, I adore disqus but I always have difficulty commenting on mobile, which is why I'll sometimes go to a blogger's FB or twitter and let them know my thoughts on a particular post. Mobile friendliness is very important in African markets where a lot of people use phones to access the interwebz. Think about it.

7. Be a Decent Person

Respond to comments when you can -- I've been awful at this as a result of my computer troubles. Don't take other people's words, pictures or ideas. Do your best to find picture sources and link to them. Most of us will use the odd picture for inspiration. I use them a lot as I have an inspiration feature on here. I too have been guilty of vaguely stating 'tumblr' or 'pinterest' as a source. Not cool. We all slip up, the disclaimer in my sidebar is proof and I hope it shows that I'm open to rectifying my slip ups. If another blogger inspired a post or series then state and link to them. When things have been given to you by brands or prs for review or when you have been paid to write posts LET your readers know. I've never received anything personally (but I have a disclosure agreement with readers of this thing).  It's the right thing to do -- even though it's not yet required by law here in Mzantsi. Your readers trust you and your opinion so don't lead them astray for some free swag. Always be honest and stay true to yourself. Share love.

Bonus: I enjoy nice blurbs that give me an idea about the blogger and the blog.

These things are what quieten the snob within me and make it easier for me to enjoy your content. Thank you for reading! Please share your tips and thoughts on ways we can all improve our blogs.