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Monday, January 21, 2008

Simplicity is better: some suggestions for a clean blog layout

In the past week I received many good comments about the design of my blog and some visitors asked to me suggestions about how to improve their site layout.

I want to share with you some tips I think interesting about this topic. These are not general rules but only simple suggestions which can help you in order to make your site more attractive.

Simplicity is better
Be simple. Don't use complex site structure for your informative blog (like my site for example). A vertical orientation with two main columns is the better solutions, linear and simple to manage. If you need for help to design the page layout take a look at this post: Conceptual design for site's layout

Background and text color for content.
Use a white background (#FFFFFF) with black/gray scale text for the content. You can use black color (#000000) in order to emphasize title of posts and gray scale color (#444444, #555555...) for text (but don't use a gray too bright!). Other color combinations, such as background black and text white, are more indicated for design-oriented sites such as on-line portfolio or similar.

Use colors but don't abuse them.
Colors are nice but if poorly used they make a webpage very unsightly. If you have some dubts about colors you used on your site, take a look at Adobe Kuler an useful web application to create harmonious color themes online for your blog/site.

Don't add. Remove.
Remove all things are not really useful to attract traffic or earn money. Don't amuse your readers from content and don't fill your page with advertisements. Two ads block (below post title and on sidebar) are a good solution to perform good incomes.

Widget invasion
Widgets like MyBlogLog Recent Readers are funny but don't use them only because give "color" to the page. They can help you to attract more visitors if used in a good way.

Tell "who you are".
Tell your visitors "who you are" in a section on top of the page. Add links to your identity on social network sites like digg, delicious, technorati. Use a small section on right side of your template, below who you are, with icons and a short description. If this can help you, take ispiration from my social network section.

Giant feed icon. Why?
Ok, feed subscribers are important. But is not necessary use giant icon to say "subscribe my feed!". Your readers are not blind and if the content of your site is good you will find new subscribers also using a small icon.

Social Networks buttons war.
In the past two months, I tryed to use a lot of social buttons combinations. Now I found a good compromise, using only digg and delicious buttons. I use digg to promote my posts immediately after I published them so, in general, I receive a lot of traffic in the first two hour after submission. At the same time, all readers who find the post interesting add it to delicious and when the post become popular I receive a lot of traffic for many days after.
Take a look for example at this post, Digg-like navigation bar using CSS, popular on delicious and which drive a lot of daily traffic on this site.

That's all. I hope you can find this informations useful :)

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Jeremy Jacobs said...

Nice Blog. Are you an expert with self-hosted Wordpress?

xaer8 said...

Very good features you have here in your blog (social bookmarks, star rating etc). I suggest if you put some more contents on tips/ examples on how to make those, it will lead more visitors to your site.

I am also still learning on creating my own blogger themes. I already familiar with wordpress and joomla themes. It's not simplicity people looking for, it's the content.

Good job!

bonoriau said...

I totally agree with your tips

Ed said...

Great post! I just like a little more color than you do.
Grace and Peace,

Suparna said...

Thank you for your suggestions. I will keep these instructions in mind when i design any application.

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