Now that my new blog design is up and running, I figured it would be a good time to discuss design and how it can be important to your blog.
Until I started this blog, I wasn't really interested in garnering an audience. I kept vague tabs on who was reading my wedding blog, but I knew that I wouldn't continue blogging about my wedding once I was married, so I wasn't interested in maintaining an audience.
Ever since my first blog back in 2000, I have been interested in graphic designs. I have to be honest-when I'm looking at a blog, of course the content is what's most interesting, but if there's content and good design, I will subscribe in a heartbeat. I guess I see it as a sign that the blogger is committed? Granted, this is not always the case, but most people that are either going to spend the time to design a blog, or pay someone else to do it are interested in maintaining a quality blog.
So what is good design? This answer will vary for everyone, but I think a blog should be easy to read, not have a million blinking/moving widgets and pictures that slow down load times, and have easy to find links for new subscribers. To illustrate my point, here are a few blogs that I think have a nice design.
The Book Vixen. -She has a fair amount of widgets and pictures, but they're all kept to the sidebar, so it doesn't impede with the content of her blog. The design is sassy and gives you an idea of the person who's doing the blogging!
The Neverending Shelf - Crisp white background for text, lovely background image, and not too many widgets. I love the use of post signature as well. Simple and not too dramatic.
The Story Siren-LOVE the look of Kristi's blog. She uses different fonts for the post headers, has a gorgeous flourish between each post, and best of all, her blog is easy to read. The ads are all on the left or at the bottom of her post.
Good design doesn't have to mean that you're spending a lot. I'll be honest-I did drop a small bit of change with my blog design because it is so important to me-not just as a book blogger, but as an aspiring author. I want to have a web presence that speaks to who I am. If you're looking for a different design, but don't want to spend upwards of $50+, here are some great resources for you.
-Gorgeous $5 templates from Smitten Blog Designs, who designed my blog. Kate & Heather also offer the cutest free backgrounds I've seen, and a'la carte designs, so if you wanted to get a custom button to match one of their low cost designs, or have another design tweak, their prices for these services are very reasonable.
-Professional, beautiful premade templates from Splendid Sparrow. These will run you a bit more-most templates are $20-30, but they are gorgeous beyond words.
-Adori Graphics has a collection of whimsical premade templates, a lot are in the $10-15 range.
-Hot Bloggity Blog offers custom design service a'la carte, so you can pick what best suits your needs.
-Simly Fabulous Blogger Templates has a wide array of free templates (every template I used on my blog before my re-design was from this site) and they also offer a collection of more customizable pre-mades at a very reasonable price.
-Leelou Blogs has a selection of adorable free and low cost pre-made templates.
If you decide to change your template-it's not hard. The designer will likely provide you with instructions, but if I can do it, you probably can to. It should be as simple as backing up your old template and uploading the new one-if you're on Blogger, that is. It's not like in the dark ages when I'd have to hand code HTML!
Is blog design important to you?