You want your blog to look amazing! But with so many website themes/templates out there to choose it can be difficult to pick one that works for you. Don’t let designing your blog stress you. With my tips and advice, you’ll soon have the template you love and be well on your way to becoming a blogging superstar!
In this article I’ll be:
- Breaking down the elements you need to consider when choosing a template
- The number one mistake bloggers make when picking a template
- And the questions you should ask yourself as you customise your template.
The elements of a blog template
There are generally 7 elements to consider when choosing a theme/template for your blog.
- Title Area
- Area after posts
- Footer Area
Some of these might not sound terribly exciting or sexy, but to have an amazing looking blog – you need all these elements to work and be on point!
This is obviously the main page of your website, and one of the most important things to get right. Most people that visit will land on your homepage at some point. There are two types of homepages you can have, static or dynamic.
A static homepage basically does what it says. You create the page to look a certain way with particular content and it never really changes. It can be useful as a type of landing page to your brand and you set the journey your reader will go on within your site by the links you highlight.
A dynamic homepage is constantly changing. As you publish new content to your blog, it appears on the homepage of your website, pushing older posts down the archive.
When choosing a template you must consider which type of homepage you want. Many templates go for the more dynamic homepage, but perhaps if you don’t publish very regularly, you’d prefer a static homepage.
This is basically how each of your pages are arranged. Does your homepage show the entire text of your new blog post, or does it just show a thumbnail? My advice is to research other blogs you love and see the layout of their websites. Why does it appeal to you? What do you like/dislike about it? Layout is important as you want your visitor to be drawn into your content and feel the website is easily navigated.
This is where the title of your blog post is displayed. It can also show what date the post was published, what category the post falls under and who the author of the post is. You may not want all of this information displayed, so check to see if you can tweak the template to just show what you want.
This is often overlooked but has a massive impact on the readability and beauty of your blog. Typography covers a few things:
Check to see if you are happy with the font provided with the template or can you upload your own font. Make sure to choose a font that can be read easily.
It’s vital to use headings when structuring your blog post. Do you like how your headings will be displayed? Is the style in keeping with your brand?
When you want to quote someone in a blog post, it can be useful to display the quote in a block quote. This makes it easily recognizable that it is a quote. Check to see if the block quote is a different colour to the rest of your fonts and if it is indented.
Lists (ordered and unordered)
The internet loves listicles! So this point is important. Do you like the spacing and how they are laid out? For unordered lists, check to see what symbol is used to denote each bullet point. Is it a square, circle etc. Are you happy they will look good in one of your posts?
Area after posts
On some templates, there will be an author box with a blurb about the author of the post at the bottom. The tags and categories of the post can also be shown here too. You might also place an opt-in to your email list here.
The comment section is one of the most important parts of any blog. Make sure you like how the comments will be laid out. Will they be arranged chronologically, or will more popular comments to be shown at the top. Will people have to log in to write a comment, will they be able to use Facebook / Twitter logins to comment. Can you use a different commenting system, such as Disqus. Make sure the comment section works for you and your readers.
The footer is the area at the bottom of every page. Make sure you can play around with different widgets that can help promote your blog and social media profiles.
The number one mistake bloggers make when choosing a template!
I’ve lost count of a number of times that bloggers have said to me that they found a template they loved, only for it to end up being a disaster for their blog. Why is this so common? Because they all made the same mistake! They fell in love with the pretty photos of the template and not the template itself.
When looking for templates for your blog, you will most likely have a chance to play around with a live demo of the template. This is a mock website with photos and some text that allows you to see that the template can look like. But remember, the designers want you to buy it – so they will make sure they have the best stock photos and the cutest logos.
Always remember that your blog will have your photos. If your photos are not of the highest quality, make sure to go with a template that emphasizes your text rather than photos. A current trend in templates is to have huge photo thumbnails for each blog post on the homepage. These can stretch your photos and make them look amateurish. If picking a template with an emphasis on photos, make sure your photography is on point!
Also, spend time thinking about the logo of your blog. Will it fit with the template? Or if you don’t have a logo, what will the header of the website look like without one?
Don’t just fall in love with the demo of the template, make sure it will actually work for your blog.
Below are a few more questions to ask yourself when choosing the template:
- Does the theme/template complement your website content?
- Will this be for just a blog, or do you need an online shop as part of the website as well?
- Does it entice people to explore?
- Is it too busy?
- Is it easy to customise to fit my brand? Can I use my own logos, colour hex codes, fonts etc?
- Do I need to know CSS to change things?
- Is it mobile responsive?
- Is it compatible with various browsers – Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer? (Check you Google Analytics to see which browser most of your visitors are using)
If you have any more questions about picking a theme/template for your blog, ask me in the comments below.
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