1. Use a white background
Creating as much white space as possible helps to showcase what really matters – your writing/photos! You want your readers to focus on your content. A white background presents your blog as fresh, clean and sophisticated. Busy backgrounds will hurt your blog (not to mention your eyes). Also, a patterned background can make your blog load slower.
2. Use full width images
Make sure they fill the entire width of your content layout. Make your images stand out and even add text over them to illustrate a point (plus this is a huge help if you PIN the image). Readers will respond to engaging visual elements. It is important to incorporate beautiful, appealing and high-impact imagery in your blog posts.
3. Vary your fonts
Add some variety to your blog posts with fonts. Make your headings stand out. Use italics and bold to emphasize. Draw your readers to key areas. Most readers are time poor and a great use of a font can alert them to the important parts. Go nuts with fonts in your header, but keep your main content to 2-3 styles.
Don’t be tempted to put everything you can in your sidebar. Make sure is well aligned (left or middle). Make sure the colours and fonts match the overall feel of your blog. 20-25 categories in the sidebar is ample. Is it flashing and crowded? Are all your advertisers/sponsors the same width? Content is still key, so don’t let your sidebar take over. Tidy up your navigation and use dropdowns if you need to.
5. Make a great header
First impressions last. Is it easy to read and is it well aligned? I call it the “5 second rule”. People will make their first impression in a few seconds and if you can’t grab their attention in 5 seconds they won’t come back. A good header size is 1000px X 250px. Limit your colours to 3. Do you need a tagline? Or will they be able to tell what your blog is about when they first land?
Here is another BLOG DESIGN checklist I created which you can download.