Hi, I'm Lindsay from Painting Lilies. I often tell people that I'm a 20 something year old with the hobbies of a 70 something year old. I love to make things from scratch. You can often find me in the kitchen kneading bread or on the couch knitting a blanket. I also read…a lot! When I'm not cooking or knitting, I can be found biking up mountains or skiing down them, so I guess I'm not all old lady. ;-)
I blog about recipes, knitting and crochet patterns and my other crafty pursuits. My most popular posts are for knitting patterns I've created. You can find my patterns (free and paid) or sign up for my email newsletter to get a free copy of the Twin Leave Baby Blanket.
How to Design Your BlogOne of my biggest online pet peeves are websites that look like they were built in 1997. Web design has come a long way and outdated websites make your blog or business look outdated.
Let me start by saying that I'm not a graphic designer or a web developer. Even if you aren't a professional, you can still create your own beautiful blog. Below I'll cover some topics that you should think about when designing your blog.
Step 1: Do your research
One of the best ways to start is to surf other blogs to see what you like and what you don't. Think about the colors that draw you in, the layouts, the features, the fonts. Bookmark the ones you really love and start to figure out the style you want for your own site.
Step 2: Decide what's most important
You'll want to think about the purpose of the site you're creating because it will help you with the design and layout. Are you trying to get people to sign up for your email newsletter? Follow you on social media? Read your blog posts?
Make sure it's easy for your readers to find the important elements of your site. Typically, you'll want the important elements to be "above the fold" which means that you can see it without scrolling down the page.
One of the most important elements of my blog is my email newsletter. I use my mailing list to promote new knitting and crochet projects that I create and to provide special discounts, invitations and other useful information. You'll see it at the top of my site (created using HelloBar.com).
Step 3: Draw it out
Whenever I'm building a new website (whether it's a personal blog or for my business), I like to sketch out the layout on a blank sheet of paper. It helps me visualize where things will go and gives me a roadmap as I create different elements. I love online tools, but nothing can beat simple sketches with pen and paper.
Step 4: Create clear navigation
You want to make it really easy for people to find out more about you and navigate around your site. That's why it's really critical to create simple and easy to follow navigation bars. You'll see that I have two navigation bars on my site. The top bar contains my blog's core pages: About, Store, Contact Resources.
These are the most visited pages of my blog. People want to know more about you, so create an about page to provide pictures and more information about who you are.
Even though I have social media info in my sidebar on every page, I still find quite a few people getting in touch with me through my Contact page. Make it as easy as possible for your visitors to connect with you and do what you want them to, whether it's buying something from you or emailing you.
Step 5: Eliminate the clutter
I visit many blogs that have too much clutter. The sidebar is one of the guiltiest culprits for clutter. Stop putting every imaginable widget there and think back to Step #2 where you determined what's important.
Visitors are overwhelmed with too many options, so keep in simple. The sidebar is a great place to put your social media links, email newsletter opt-in forms, and popular posts. If you cram too much in your sidebar, you'll find that people won't interact with any of your content there, so pick what's most important.
Step 6: Be consistent
Don't use 15 fonts and all the colors of the rainbow on your blog. Pick 1-2 fonts and stick with those throughout your site. It's also helpful to pick a color pallet for consistent design. My favorite site for colors is Kuler and Google Fonts has some unique fonts that work well for web design if you want to expand outside of Times New Roman and Arial.
Step 7: Highlight what you do best
If you're a writer and want to focus on your words, don't let other elements distract from your writing. If your blog is visual and you want to highlight your photos, infographics and graphics, don't let background colors clash with and hide your images.
Learn more about my favorite blogging tools and resources here.
What do you love most about your blog's design? Share in the comments (don't forget a link) so we can all get inspiration from all the creative web design!
A BIG thanks to Lindsay who helped make this post possible even when Blogger tried to eat it. 12 times. Remember to check her out at her blog, Painting Lilies, and share your thoughts, tips, and tricks for blog design and blogging!