Earlier this month I wrote a post on serious blog design flaws, and got several additions from commenters - thank you! It seems fair to follow up that post with something more positive, so here we go with must-have blog design elements. Hope you have more to add!
Of course, standout blog design involves doing the opposite of the things we talked about last time
- No CAPCHA, easy comment submission
- Full RSS feeds
- No advertising within the blog post
- Easy to find internal search
- Sidebar(s) on right
- Human identity, welcoming
- Subscribe to comments option
- Readable fonts
- Compact sidebar
- Readable, searchable archives (from Lillie Ammann)
- Good photo of the blogger (from Karen Putz)
- Easily editable comment forms (from Robert Hruzek)
- No tacky banner ads (from Jeanne Dininni)
Fast page loading. Slow page loading is often symptomatic of a blog design overloaded with graphics and widgets. A clean, crisp design should load like lightning.
Prominent recent posts list. Why is it so interesting to see what a blogger has written about recently? I don't know, but it is.
Well constructed and prominent categories list. How do you like to browse through a blog to find posts of particular interest? Browsing within a category is my favorite method, especially when the category names are descriptive and there aren't too many. As a side note, I think a lot of bloggers, myself included, don't spend nearly enough time making their best posts findable.
Appealing color palette. Color selection involves picking the right color combination, using color in the right places in the right amounts, and more. I have trouble matching my shirt to my pants, so I rely on designers and handy online color selection tools. Warm, inviting colors draw people in immediately.
About page. An about page gives readers, especially new readers, a sense of what the blog and the blogger are all about. Indispensable.
Social networking links. This one is just beginning to dawn on me. A blog is not a stand alone chunk of communication. It is just one of the many threads that comprise the tapestry that is social media. Sidebar links to the blogger's Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. ID's really aren't optional anymore.
Dated posts. When you stumble across a post via a Google search, for instance, it's nice to know when it was written. I use blog posts extensively for research, and dates are essential if I'm going to cite it. Dating is particularly important for technology blogs, since information becomes outdated very quickly.
Images. Powerful images work wonders. They drive home the message of a post. Screen grabs, charts, etc. make complex written instructions comprehensible in a stroke. Gotta have 'em!
So ... what blog design features do you love?