Well, even if you don’t know a lick about this Watson dude, the man spoke the truth.
Boo-yaa for old Watson, because …
Good design is good business, and as a blogger you need to stand out now more than ever, because …
1. Competition is fierce. You’re competing for eyeballs, remember?
You’re in the pit with other entrepreneurs and hungry, budding bloggers.
2. People are more in tune with good design than ever. They’re exposed to it everywhere and they know good from bad.
People ARE design savvy.
OKAY, let’s stop right here:
One of the things I want to do on this blog is inspire you to go out and kick ass. I really, truly do.
The other is to teach you what I know from years in business (read: design and marketing strategies) to enhance your online presence.
That’s it. My one-two punch and I just want to make sure it helps.
Now back to the recipe. Are you ready?
The formula is elementary, my Dear Watson.
Stone cold simple, really.
So, what’s the recipe for a crackin’ site?
Simplicity. Yep, that’s it, especially in blogging. So let’s focus on …
Color and minimalism:
I only use several colors on my site and here’s why:
In traditional branding color helps customers identify products. Think of the basic color schemes of the worlds largest brands: McDonald’s, Target, Starbucks, Coca-cola. They all use one or two main colors.
Would you say Coke or Target kind of own red? And how about Starbucks and that green?
Sites using a limited color palette are easier to recall and minimal color helps individual elements stand out.
2-3 colors is best. What might help is remembering the old 60-30-10 rule: When adding color to your blog or site, divide the color into percentatges:
60% is your most prominent color (e.g. black)
30% goes to the supporting team (e.g. red)
10% is left over for accent color (e.g. gray)
I don’t follow this to a tee, but you get the idea.
And allow room for White space. White areas catch the eye and stand out as obvious content areas. So give that site some breathing room.
Instead of tooting my own horn (that didn’t sound too good), I’m including several examples below of blogs done right.
I love the minimalist black & white look and his effective use of a highlight color. The side bar has a lot of info, but the look is clean and oh so functional.
Who says a design that is primarily black with tints of gray can’t look great? This site is a fine example of a minimalist look done right.
Really, really great use of white space and a clean, well-designed header that draws attention.
Also, notice how effectively Jeff has incorporated a link to his new eBook at the top, just below the header. Minimal use of color and white space rule the day here.
I know Mr. Halpern is all the rage these days and I certainly get some juice from social triggers, but I really do love the spartan look of his site. He’s also effectively incorporated his Feature Box into the design. Nice, cohesive and Zen Habits simple.
Plus, as he has stated: “The less options you give people, the more likely they’re going to take action because they won’t be overwhelmed.” Clean, simple and to the point kinda rocks.
You might think Jen breaks the white space rule, but no! That cool background IS white space. And the real white areas (posts and sidebar) really stand out.
Notice how the design of the boxes works so well with the colorful background and how the site uses the light blue as an effective highlight color. Again, cohesiveness from top to bottom and because of that, we can bend the 60-30-20 rule a bit.
The look of Francisco Rosales’ blog is clean, elegant and designed for conversions. To me it’s a model site for incorporating opt-in forms, an effective footer design and an About page, or in his case a “Who Is This Dude?” page.
He also details some other great tips based on his conversations with Mr. Halpern here.
So, what guidelines do these sites follow?
a. Minimal use of color.
b. Clean, flowing side bars.
c. White space rules the day.
d. Cohesiveness from top to bottom (clean and consistent)
And with a feature box being all the rage these days, it’s nice to see a few bloggers who are effectively integrating this element into their blog structure.
Design is not just about making something look good. It’s about creating clean, functional navigation. An environment where the user is not overwhelmed, but drawn in.
I’ll be improving my site over the next few months and certainly think the fine folks mentioned above are good models to follow.
Do you have examples of effective blog design?
Have you changed your site design lately?
What are your thoughts on using a large opt-in box as part of your design?