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Win a Copy of Web Design for ROI

One of the books that I’ve been enjoying lately is Web Design for ROI: Turning Browsers into Buyers & Prospects into Leads. It might surprise regular readers who know that I’m a self confessed web design dummy to know that I’ve been reading (and enjoying) a book about this topic – but I was lucky enough to receive a review copy of it in the mail a month or so back and it is a topic that I’ve enjoyed learning about.

This isn’t a book about designing sexy sites – it’s a book about designing profitable ones (although sexy can be good too and this book will help with that too). It’s not a book about designing blogs – but a lot of what you read in it will inform decisions that you make about your blog’s layout and design also. Whether you’re designing your own blog or hiring someone else to do it this book is a worthwhile read.

I won’t review the book here (to be honest I’m still only 70% of the way through it) but if there are some good review of it on it’s Amazon page if you’re interested.

What I am happy to announce though is that I’ve been given 5 copies of this book to give away to ProBlogger readers.

How to Enter

To enter this competition you need to do 2 things:

1. In comments below leave us a comment telling us what blog’s design you love the most and why. Feel free to leave a link to the blog but do include some thoughts on what you find attractive about the blog’s design and why you admire it.

2. Your comment needs to have the keyword ‘web design’ in it – this will help us make sure comments don’t get caught up in our spam filters.

On Saturday (at midnight my time) I’ll end this competition and choose 5 of my favorite comments (ie comments that stand out for their value) to win a copy of the book. I’m also keen to see what blog designs you love and hope it’ll help provide many of us with some inspiration on that front.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Kevin says:

    Web Design

    S I M P L I C I T Y S E L L S
    http://www.smashingmagazine.com/

    =)

  2. Just for everybody’s information, this is a worthwhile competition. i personally have purchased the book and found it to be very informative and it has certainly helped me with my websites.

    Well done Darren. Good comp.

  3. Pepper says:

    One of my favorite sites for web design is

    http://www.briangardner.com/.

    (I’m sorry, i don’t know how to make a link here.)

    The color pallette is so easy on the eyes and right away you can see the three services he offers. The homepage is short therefore I don’t have to scroll down forever to get what i’m looking for.

  4. Pepper says:

    OH! it made the link for me……cool!

  5. Pat B. Doyle says:

    Web Design

    I have to agree with Martin – I love the design of Zen Habits, http://zenhabits.net/

    It is so simple and uncluttered, it is a joy to read. I like the simple dark gray header with the image of stones. I like the blue sidebar – it is a soothing color.

    The photos are interesting. There are a few ads, but they don’t make the site look cluttered.

    I love the way the simplicity of the design reinforces the concept of zen simplicity that Leo talks about on the blog.

  6. Celine says:

    Darren, here’s my answer in the form of a letter:

    Dear Spoon Graphics blog (http://www.blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/),

    I love the way you look. In fact, I love the way you are. Maybe love is an understatement.

    True, you’re a blog by web design experts, so that might be a bit unfair. But there are just so many things about you that I can’t resist:

    Your carefully crafted elements. You play with shape, boldness of color, lines, and texture! One would think that only chaos can come out of this – but not with you! All your elements work in complete harmony.

    The way you direct my eyes. What’s immediately noticeable about you is the “Blog Spoon Graphics” image on your header. But you do more than let my eyes linger there – the dotted lines and the paper airplane makes my vision flow to the “subscribe” section.

    Is this your way of manipulating me? Perhaps. But manipulation means that you are conscious of what you are doing. I do not feel violated that your form tells my eyes where to wander.

    You’ve limited yourself to what’s essential. Everything is so straightforward, intuitive, and labeled. Despite the highly artistic elements on you, I’m never lost! I’ve already spoken of the beauty of your form – but the combination of this with your function leaves me speechless.

    You share yourself with others. Whether it’s through your design tutorials, freebies (vector shapes, brushes, textures), and articles – you share a bit of your creativity. Not so you will be mimicked, but to inspire those like me to come up with our own vision and our own work.

    I know I have yet to create something as bold, beautiful, and practical as you. But one thing’s for certain – you’ve already left your mark in my heart.

    All my love,
    Celine

  7. Dan Cole says:

    The design I lover the most is… Problogger. The wen design has a nice site title, good transition between elements (to note: the sides from content from sidebar), and the thing I love the most is the use of the footer. Problogger is one of only a few sites to make good use of the footer and it includes a lot of good information in it.

    Note: This had nothing to do with the fact that Darren is judging these comments…

  8. Ross Hill says:

    One of the web designs, or blog designs, I like the most is Megnut. It has been around for years but has stood the test of time.

  9. JEMi says:

    Web Design

    To be honest, I love the JS theme on InMyHeels.com
    and the customized Grid Focus theme on MyFavoriteDietBlog.com.

    Granted these are my own blogs (honest, this isn’t the shameless plug) but
    and am really proud of them. I’m a brand new blogger starting from the top and I took great care looking for just the right look, just the right feel.

    I feel that if a site is easy to navigate and pleasing to the eye, it’s a winner.

    Well those are the goals on those sites.

    I’m getting there.

    :)

  10. Steve Cook says:

    I’m very new to blogging. In fact I only discovered problogger.net a couple of weeks ago and subsequently an entire world of amazing, informative and beautiful sites.

    It never dawned on me that I could convey my interests in such a professional and yet informal way, until after just a few days of blogging, I stumbled upon http://the-coveted.com/blog/ – Essentially a fashion magazine, which I have no real interest in, but the design floor’d me:

    Simple, smart and wonderfully intuitive, it feels and reads like professional and intelligent publication. It’s bold heading and article stucture is not dusturbed but is in fact complemented by it’s ad and very pretty affiliate link intergration.

    Fashions fade, style is eternal.

    Very inspiring web design.

  11. Anything by Brian Gardner, but especially his Revolution theme.

    I also have to mention Freelance Switch because they have one of my favorite designs as well.

  12. I’ve always been a sucker for the minimalist look so the web design of Waiter Rant appeals to me. It’s extremely simple and easy to use. Not putting too much content also emphasizes the content of his blog.

    I also like my own site‘s design (modified technics theme for WordPress) but I’m still working on it. The empty space at the sides look a bit disturbing

  13. I like the web design of Waiter Rant as well as the design for my own site (It’s a modified free theme for WordPress).

    Here are the links (my previous comment with the anchor tags didn’t seem to show up):

    http://waiterrant.net
    and
    http://www.3w-engineer.net

  14. John says:

    Ryan Carson’s Carsonified. It’s a company website but the Blog is the main page, which I think is cool. I love the web design – I don’t think the hardwood floor concept would work for everyone, but here it fits so well. No ads as befitting a company site.

    My favorite feature is how the first article is integrated into the header – and right now the graphic is really fun and makes you feel good.

    And Ryan wears a cool hat.

  15. Really enjoying reading this list – just wrote a post about blog themes and am adding this entry as a follow up. It’s hard to choose one absolute favorite blog based on web design – there so many good ones out there, including yours!

    Here’s my entry:

    What I love about http://www.northxeast.com . . .

    Identity
    NorthxEast, image shows direction with a compass image

    Tagline
    Umissable Weekly Articles for Bloggers – states frequency [weekly], for who [bloggers], what the reader will find [articles]; and what kind [unmissable] with a word you probably won’t see anywhere else

    Image
    Two starfish touching arms on a beach with a surf in the background, especially attractive on this drippy, grey and cold Chicago winter day

    Color palette
    Black backdrop offsets the teal, orange and neutral elements

    Architecture
    The list of weekly articles with number of comments on the home page reads like a table of contents, easy to browse

    Featured article
    Like the big, bold type and the author’s name above the post

    Graphic elements
    Previous articles icon calls attention as an askew bookmark above the article index. The teal divider band is similar to a graphic element I use on my site. I call it a “ribbon.”

    Nav tabs
    Simple direction to four pages

    Blogroll
    Great call to action: Obey the title: “Blogs every blogger should read” – and feed into the collection

    Bonus Points
    Content is remarkable, relevant and unmissable.

  16. I think http://www.tylercruz.com is one of the best blogs. His Web Design is fabtastic. The color contrasts remind me of an easy to read comic book. His postings are real, not just “and read the rest of my posts”. He is “real” and I love the Masthead. On that note I also love the layout of http://www.johncow.com.

  17. Jacky says:

    I like shoemoney’s WP theme best.The style is really cool.

  18. Who is Roi and why would I want to help him win a copy of Web Design? ;)

  19. Neil Duckett says:

    I like Danny Choo’s website. It’s one of a kind, with some great functionality for users to interact with the site.

    Danny Choo

    The site is easy to navigate and has a great feeling of depth to it. I guess it’s similar to probloggers from a Magazine Style.

  20. Sehrae Banu says:

    I like the web design of Techtaxi. It’s colorful, neat, readable, organized and easy to find information.

  21. Veerle’s blog has a number of things going for it that make it tasteful, usable, and downright delicious.

    * Limited column width improves readability–your eye moves in saccades, tiny, abrupt movements. This makes it difficult to read columns of text several inches wide: it’s easy to begin re-reading lines, or skip lines altogether.
    * Whitespace and color clearly demarcate regions of content. This makes scanning for the material you’re interested in extremely easy.
    * High contrast, generous leading (spacing between lines) and sensible font choices (Verdana) makes the text a joy to read.
    * :hover effects invite exploration, and make it easy to find your way through content, although there is a great deal of content to find your way through!
    * Everything you might want is available or linked to on the front page. No canvassing the site in search of elusive tutorials or articles. And the portfolio call-out makes Veerle’s front page a one-stop shop.

  22. Dan Schulz says:

    Darren,

    You claim you don’t know a thing about Web design, yet your blog is by far the best designed I’ve ever seen. It is simple, functional, and even aesthetically pleasing, even if the blog doesn’t zoom properly in Opera when the page is zoomed in (I get a horizontal scrollbar). Other than that, I have no problems with it whatsoever.

  23. thatedeguy says:

    I do like the web design of problogger. I also like the design of shoemoney.com, and of course, my own sites at thatedeguy.com and ebayhabit.com. I think what it really breaks down to is whether the web design fits the site and the readers. The design here, for instance, wouldn’t work very well in some settings, while it works great in this setting where it’s become almost a full online magazine.

  24. Doug Green says:

    I’m a big fan of Copyblogger. Both for the content as well as the blog layout. They’ve done several things that I admire. To begin with, the overall web design look is crisp and clean.

    The opening screen above the fold presents well with good contrast between the outer-edge blue-gray, almost-neutral colours, and the clear white central pane. The ad section shows well on the right and I think this works really well. If you don’t catch the reader with the content, you have a good chance of having them click on the ad section.

    I like the layout on the left with the subscription boxes at the top. One of my pet peeves is blog layouts that make you work to subscribe. This one doesn’t.

    And finally, while I mentioned the content earlier I do like the emphasis on one substantive article at a time. It’s more like a website than a blog. I can ignore terrible design if the content is great but this site has both.

    It’s a clean design, not cluttered and has great content. What’s not to like?

  25. MyEggNoodles says:

    Firstly, I’m really happy with my latest new blog design on my adventure travel blog: myeggnoodles.com

    I love the colours and layout of this site: http://www.donmoses.co.uk/

    For e-commerce, I really like the design of this site: http://www.hotelchocolat.co.uk

  26. JamieO says:

    The fact that it was a guest-post on another great design site (PSDTuts) caused the confusion, but after a few more googles I found the Freelance Switch design article I was thinking of – http://psdtuts.com/designing-tutorials/elements-of-great-web-design-the-polish/

    I shouldn’t be surprised that so many people like FSW, checking my RSS feeds in the middle of the afternoon at work might have paid off for being able to get my comment in early with it for the contest. I feel like I’m holding top pair with an ace kicker coming up on fourth street. Hrmmmmm, blog poker?

  27. Mike says:

    That web design book sounds fantastic. Aesthetics are a matter of opinion but stone cold results speak for themselves.

    A blog driven by truly inspired design is delicious:days, a food blog out of Germany. Every element from typeface to icons to palette appears meticulously planned to draw a reader deeper into the site and yet every impossibly lush photo delivers urgency, as in, “I have to read this post right now!”

  28. Chetan says:

    Darren, I love the web design of these couple of blogs -

    Design of this blog is very cool and attractive.

    http://www.pronetadvertising.com/ – The design is just beautiful and simple, making a pleasant feeling for the readers, and no much complications in it.

    http://www.clazh.com/ – Very much attractive for just random blogging stuff, but not for any professional type of blogs.

  29. Ellen says:

    Don’t want to enter the contest–just wanted to add some weight as to what a good book this! I’ve encouraged several clients to buy copies for their web teams.

  30. My favourite blog web design would be several:

    Pro blogger is good indeed (sounds like im sucking up does it not?) as its clean, separates sections by design, colours, lines etc and its simplistic (without looking bare) as it does not cram to much into the side bar

    Another favourite would be Premium News theme by Adii. It has all of the positives of Pro Bloggers web design but also because of the little extra bits that add the cherry to the top (ajax menus etc). I am currently using this design for a new website – kick2kick.net

    I also like my blog design, while its busy somewhat it uses just one colour and can be used effectivly! IT still has some work/ tinkering to do be done on it!

  31. Sarah says:

    I have to say I really like stevepavlina.com. It’s not the cutest but it’s the most functional.

    I’ve never gotten lost at his site. I’ve always easily found what I was looking for and more. He cleverly and overtly entices the reader into delving deeper into his site with no effort to navigate it.

    Plus, his is the most useful content in the personal development niche that I’ve found.

  32. Conrad Hees says:

    Hello Darren!

    My favorite blog theme is at Tim Ferriss’s 4HWW blog. I like it for several reasons:

    - It really utilizes the space above the fold to draw the reader into his whole theme ( 4HWW,not blog theme). It has a prominent picture of him in an exotic place, a prominent link to his book, and a limited number of links at the top, making the reader more likely to read on. Also, the subscribe button and the latest post, and Twitter are all above the fold. This is just good marketing overall.

    - It is very simple, attractive, and easy to use. You do not have to look long to find something.

    - Good use of whitespace and color contrast.

    These things make Tim’s blog design one of the best out there right now. It is not a unique design but still individualistic. Overall, a great blog as well!

    web design :)

  33. As a blogger and a web designer, I admire sites that are properly organized. Generally, it must comprise all basic elements to have a good web design. From its navigation, ads positioning, layout and contents, all must be coherent. Theme must also work with the content.

    And indeed Problogger meets all the criteria and I just love this site because of its fresh contents, interactive functionalities and well-organized structure.

  34. I love looking at other blogs’ web designs as research for refining my own look. Viewing other blogs for their designs helps me get a feel for:

    1. a look that “pops” on the initial viewing.
    2. colors, fonts, and layouts that are highly readable.
    3. what’s fresh looking.
    4. the key attractive elements above the fold.
    5. different ways of presenting the same features (e.g. rss buttons)

    I’d have to say one of the best designs I’ve seen lately in my niche is at Gather Little By Little. Thanks!

  35. Four20 says:

    http://www.copyblogger.com

    I always loved the very straight forward web design style Brian went with this website.

    RSS and Email icons pop out from the edge. . .and it is very easy on the eyes.

  36. Darren-

    Thanks for your kind words about the book; we strongly believe people aren’t making the most of their sites/blogs. We wrote the book in an attempt to help work around some of the pain normally associated with web design projects by getting everyone involved focusing on the things that really matter.

    Those interested can read an excerpt of the book here: http://www.wd4roi.com/inside-the-book.html.

    Thanks for fighting the good fight.

  37. Brett says:

    There are many portions of a blog’s design to consider. I have seen many blogs that do a few things well. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of one that does everything well, so I want to select on that stands out for having a great header section:

    http://moneysmartlife.com/

    What I I like about this header:
    - Immediately the tag line stands out. Enjoy Life and Invest for the Future. Brands the site well.
    - The top navigation quickly sends you down three paths 1) enjoy life 2) investing for the future or 3) get off your duff and do items one or two now!
    - The tabs are also handy — I love to read the “about” page on a blog so I like this to be easy to find.

    Additional features that I like on blogs that are easy to find on this one (despite the ads):
    1) Top Posts
    2) New Posts
    3) Categories
    I still amazes me how many people organize all their posts by a calendar feature. That is useless to me.

    I think that this blog is doing two things poorly 1) useless, ad stuffed footer 2) too many ads on the side that look similar to content or a blog roll and that pass along page rank. It is easy enough to figure out which are content and which are not after looking around for a minute, but that many ads look cheap and distract from the content.

  38. Brett says:

    There are many portions of a blog’s design to consider. I have seen many blogs that do a few things well. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of one that does everything well, so I want to select on that stands out for having a great header section:

    http://moneysmartlife.com/

    What I I like about this header:
    - Immediately the tag line stands out. Enjoy Life and Invest for the Future. This brands the site well.
    - The top navigation quickly sends you down three paths 1) enjoy life 2) investing for the future or 3) get off your duff and do items one or two now! Follows the branding well.
    - The tabs are also handy — I love to read the “about” page on a blog so I like this to be easy to find.

    Additional features that I like on blogs that are easy to find on this one (despite the ads):
    1) Top Posts
    2) New Posts
    3) Categories
    I still amazes me how many people organize all their posts by a calendar feature. That is useless to me.

    I think that this blog is doing two things poorly 1) useless, ad stuffed footer 2) too many ads on the side that look similar to content or a blog roll and that pass along page rank. It is easy enough to figure out which are content and which are not after looking around for a minute, but that many ads look cheap and distract from the content.

    I almost forgot the words ‘web design.’

  39. UzBlogger says:

    Okay, thanks for giving a chance to spread a word about my favourite web designs.

    First of all, I’d like to talk about Dan Cederholm’s http://www.SimleBits.com. I’m a fan of this blog from the very beginning versions, and the latest design is the perfect. It’s very neat and tidy. It doesn’t have much graphics used but great color scheme helps your eyes to “scan” the whole content easily.

    The second blog design I’d like to talk about is http://ilovetypography.com/
    I’m subscribed to this site through RSS, but I visit it everyday to take a look once again… I can’t help myself :( The most attractive thing is that ILT’s design best explains the website’s content, what the site is about.

    The next of a kind is Veerle Pieters’s http://veerle.duoh.com/
    Being one of the most stunning designed blog, it provides very great articles and tutorials too. It’s design doesn’t cut your eyes, very clean and lovely.

    The last but one of the best web design show takes place at http://paulenderson.com/
    It’s very marvellous… shortly, I’d describe this like the following – after visiting “reflections” I decided to change my blog design. It’s design structure is awesome and my next blog design would be highly based on it.

    I hope these links will help for many people to distinguish the great web designs on the web.

    Thanks.

  40. Sorel says:

    First: Great Contest. Saw a lot of good designed blogs in those comments.

    And my favorite blog design is http://www.tehnic.net Why? Because is my blog and because is designed by me. I`ve designed it by following all my needs.

    I also like http://www.mydiscountdeals.co.uk also because is designed by me (and it`s normal to like your own work) but I like very much all work done by designdisease.com

    And of course, web design keyword.

  41. Mario says:

    Well, I find http://www.webdesignerwall.com/ the most beautiful web design blog there is. Not only web design, content, usability and other stuff are just perfectly setup – and it runs on wp ;)

  42. Anuj Seth says:

    Talking about blogs, there are several new concepts in web design or blog design coming up nowadays. From the earlier style of having excerpts from 10 posts on the main page, things have evolved to take on looks called ‘Magazine’ and Newspaper formats.

    I personally like the magazine layout for blogs since it provides an eye catching preview of what the site is all about.

    My Blog (click on my name above!), uses a Magazine style theme since this is a layout I like personally. I’m in no way mentioning that it looks the best though ;-)

  43. Rob Mason says:

    The Rissington Podcast is one of the greats, made by two web design giants (Jon Hicks and John Oxton). It’s got great style and bags of character. They rent office on an old RAF base in the UK, hence the design for the site.

    Also need to mention Smashing Magazine – part online magazine, part blog. The design is discreet and understated, but judiciously uses colour for highlighting. Also great use of images within blog entries to keep the content lively.

  44. Orfej says:

    The best web design is when graphic illuminates a simple concept in a powerful way. For example : http://templeofjennifer.com/blog/. I want to avoid anything too fancy , heavy-framed boxes on a plain background.It is preety to see color pages with blue and the use of photoshop sunrays, for example, brings the audience’s attention right into the center of the piece or just to make preety.. The connection and size between each element also must be balanced very well.

  45. I love the web design of N Design Studio: http://www.ndesign-studio.com/

    It’s just so vibrant and pretty, but at the same time still very organized and functional.

  46. I like the John Cow theme (http://www.johncow.com)

  47. Hey Darren,
    Thanks very much for the shout out!

    Clearly, your readers are very aware of the impact and potential influence of design, whether on a blog or on another type of web site.

    Lance and I hope the book inspires and motivates readers to look at their sites with new eyes. Once you know what you want your site to do, there are easy ways to use the power of design to reach that goal.

    Good luck to everyone!

  48. Marylin says:

    of the blogs I brose on a regular basis there are 2 who’s themes I love. the first is http://www.worldofmatticus.com
    the second http://www.somedaywewillsleep.com .

    the first is very streamlined and crisp, with just the right amount of white space.
    the second is easy to navigate around and has some nice custimization available with the top bar.

    Of course I like my own blog design too, took me ages to find a theme I liked and tweak enough to be settled with it :)

  49. Kelly says:

    Darren,

    I am of course quite happy with my own blog’s design, which is a significantly tweaked verion of Carrie Petri’s Soleil.

    However, the BEST blog out there in terms of web design, IMHO, is Idea Sandbox. It’s so beautiful, usable, and fun to read I had to write an email to its author right away when I found it, telling him what a gem it is.

    Regards,

    Kelly

  50. Kelly says:

    Darren,

    I am of course quite happy with my own bolog’s design, which is a significantly tweaked version of Carrie Petri’s Soleil.

    However, the BEST blog out there in terms of web design IMHO, is Idea Sandbox. It is so beautiful, usable, and fun that I had to write the author right away when I discovered it, to tell him what a gem it is.

    Regards,

    Kelly