As a designer, I am very much in favor of hiring a professional web designer for your blog. However, there are many reasons to choose the DIY route, like being a new blogger and having a small budget, or just loving the challenge of creating a space of your own. No matter why you choose to do this, I want to give you a few tips about the right way to design your own blog.
Why take the DIY route
In over 5 years in this industry, I’ve heard hundreds of reasons for designing your own blog. Let’s take a look at some of them:
I’m just a blogger, I don’t need a professional design
A lot of bloggers, especially those who are just starting out, are under the impression that web design is just for businesses. Well, that’s simply not true. A professional designed site is one that communicates who you are, what you do, and how you can help your readers. You need a site that communicates your message, no matter if you are a blogger or business owner. Of course, you can achieve that even if you design your own blog.
I don’t have the budget to hire a professional
Although there are designers for every budget, it’s understandable that you want to wait until you can afford to hire your favorite designer or just have more important expenses. But you have to keep in mind that creating the perfect blog takes a lot of time and effort and you might not always get the result you want.
They don’t know my niche as I do
It’s true that a designer doesn’t know all industries, but we don’t have to. A lot of designers specialize in certain niches, and even if you find a designer that creates all types of blogs, a good designer will research your niche and try to understand what your blog needs.
It won’t represent me
I know a lot of people (myself included) that don’t want to hire an interior decorator because they are afraid their house won’t reflect their personality. I know that this isn’t true and a good decorator will style your house based on your preferences and personality. It’s the same for web designers. No-one will start working on your blog before getting to know you and what you like and don’t like. If you don’t like the result, you either hired the wrong person or there were communication issues.
I love learning new things
So do I! And designing a blog is fun, but it can also be time consuming and frustrating. While you might be able to choose the best style and colors that reflect your personality and serve your audience, you might have trouble with the technical parts of creating the perfect blog.
So let’s have a look at how you can create a wonderful blog without getting into the pitfalls of DIY design:
Start gathering information
So you’re probably thinking that you already know your audience and your personality and you don’t need this step. While I always make sure to do my homework when I design for clients, I skipped this step in the past and ended up with a design I hated after only a couple of weeks.
The first thing you have to do is get to know your audience better or think about the persons you want to read your blog.
Then start looking at your favorite blogs and write down everything you like and don’t like about them. Try not to copy your favorite blog, even if you feel you can’t live without that design, but use it as a source of inspiration and add your own spin on things.
You can add all your favorite images, patterns, color schemes, logos and other graphics on a Pinterest board and then use it to create a moodboard. Try to look at many blogs from your niche or from other industries and add as many ideas as you can to your Pinterest inspiration board.
Find a color palette and create a style guide
Before you start working on your logo and theme, you need to create a color palette and a style guide that will help you maintain a consistent design.
The first thing you need to do is decide on the tone of your blog. Do you want to sound playful and quirky or will you be serious and use your expert voice?
Once you decide on the mood of your blog, you can start creating a color palette and finding the right fonts for your blog. You can create a color palette starting from your moodboard. When you create your first palette, you shouldn’t go crazy on the colors not matter how tempting that is. Try to limit your color scheme to three or four colors, a main color, one or two accent colors and a neutral color to balance your palette.
The same goes for fonts. You should limit your fonts to two or three. It’s important to use an easy to read font for your body and headings, maybe a different font for your images and if you want one that stands out, you can use it for your logo.
You can find a lot of branding boards on Pinterest that can help you create a style guide for your blog. Another idea is to look at other bloggers in your niche and see if there are any popular colors and blog layouts. You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing so try to stand out.
Start with a premium theme
To build a good website, you need a good theme. If you can’t afford a custom design, you should at least invest in a good theme. There are a lot of themes out there that are bloated and poorly coded and they make your site slow.
I love using WordPress themes that are built on the Genesis Framework. You can find hundreds of beautiful and well made child themes that you can use on your blog.
If you are not familiar with coding and don’t plan on learning, you should find a theme that looks similar to how you picture the perfect website. Some themes let you change colors, fonts, layout and you can upload a logo and background. Try to find a theme that lets you make the changes you want, but don’t fall for those that promise hundreds of plugins and shortcodes. You can add functionality using plugins from the WordPress repository so you don’t need them. And don’t ever buy a theme that’s not mobile responsive.
Use a word mark logo or purchase a premade one
The logo is also an important part of your website, but the wrong logo can drive away readers. That’s why a simple logo created using a good font or even your own handwriting is always better than a logo that has all the fonts and graphics you can find.
A great alternative to simple logos is purchasing a premade logo or even a logo creator. Logo creators are bundles of graphics and font combinations that you can mix and match to create your dream logo. While your logo won’t be 100% custom, you can still make it your own. You can find a lot of logo creators and logo templates on Creative Market.
Make your site user friendly
Even though I left this for last, usability is very important for a good blog. A pretty website is not enough if your readers can’t find what they are looking for.
An easy to use website has a simple navigation menu, easy to find categories and search bar, and a simple sidebar or footer with only the most important information. If there’s anything that can distract your readers: unwelcomed pop-ups, auto-play videos and music, ads that cover the screen and bright text and patterns, get rid of them before you lose readers.
Designing your own blog can be fun and exciting, but you can also feel insecure, disappointed and might hate your website a week after you launch it. I also go through that, so being a designer doesn’t make things easier. But if you decide to do it, you will not only learn a lot of new things, you’ll feel more confident in managing your site and growing your audience.
Did you design your own blog? Any tips?