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Blog Design – Does it Matter?

Speed-Posting@mattpacker asks – how important is the design of your blog and how hard a decision do you think it would be to develop a new theme for it?

There will probably be a little debate over this one in the comments on this post because every time I see someone write about design there are two opposing arguments.

On the one side are some blogger who argue that design is secondary and not that important as that it’s content that is what draws people to a blog and keeps them there. This camp often argues that with a lot of people reading blogs these days through RSS that design is less important as people rarely see it.

On the flip side we have the argument that design is very important because it creates a first impression in the mind of potential readers and that it’s around this first impression that many readers base their decision about whether they will subscribe.

My own theory fits more with the second argument – although it’s not absolutely everything in my mind. There are some fairly standard (and even ugly) looking blogs (and many with default/free templates) going around that have big readership so it is possible to ‘make it’ without a custom design.

Lastly – in terms of how hard a decision is it to change design. I personally find it a difficult process. While I appreciate good design I’m not a designer at heart so finding someone that I connect with to do it for me takes time, then deciding what direction to take can be a bit of a heart wrenching process, as can it be to convince your loyal readers that it’s the right thing to do when you launch the change.

Further Reading:

So what do you think? Does Blog Design Matter?

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. Design is important. Content is important. Which is more important? Its a tie. I will quickly leave a website if the background and the text do not have enough contrast to be readable.
    Even the best design won’t hold me if the content sucks. It is a balance of design, content, and good writing. The best design and the greatest content still won’t hold my attention if the author DeCiDeD To WrItE LiKe ThIs.

  2. travelguy says:

    Even reading through the comments it’s interesting to to see how peoples definition of content and design are widely different. Even more so, how one determines whether one or both are “good” or not.

    That’s the key. content has to be compelling enough to grab and hold interest, and while interested people will overlook poor design, it’s harder to attract new readers.

    Also, regardless of how compelling the content, a really bad design may eventually be enough of a turn-off, that readers drift away.

  3. metro says:

    Design is critical. Sometimes just a plain white background with simple fonts but they need to be the right size or shape. Look at the comments here. do you like the short paragraphs or long ones. Maybe a few bullet points or bold words.
    I write about decorative concrete. If I didn’t have images and an interesting design most people would fall asleep before they could click off.
    I’d say design is important.

  4. --Deb says:

    I think good design does matter–not only does it make things look better, but it makes things (blogs, websites, car radios, cellphones) WORK better. A good design makes things not only attractive but easier to use. And, sure, there are blogs or websites I’m willing to visit if the content is worth my putting up with a bad design, but the content has to be REALLY good. Otherwise, eventually I stop going there. It’s not even a conscious thought–more like a subconsious aversion. No matter how much my brain tells me it’s worth going despite the awkwardness or use or ugliness of appearance, eventually, my gut is going to be shouting, “No! Don’t go!”

    Please note that I am a regular reader HERE….

  5. Reginald says:

    I agree with Patty Gale.

    A blog’s design and layout are essential characteristics of any successful blog.

    With the almost infinite list of emerging blogs, this one fundamental could be the deciding factor for the surfing reader.

    I believe, in spite of our technical and virtual advances, we are still a visually stimulated industry.

  6. Reginald says:

    Deb,

    A blog’s design is an instrumental asset that causes one blog to distinguish itself from among millions.

    However, the blog’s design is just one of many factors that sets a blog apart from others.

    Content is an example of another substantial contributor to any blog’s success.

  7. Lacey says:

    I’m of the second camp. Currently, I maintain the orb28 blog; orb28 is an upcoming online experience for girls ages 13 – 15 from New Moon Girl Media. When we first put the blog up, we used a generic blogger template. Within the last month, we uploaded a new design so that our blog would be “branded” and fit with the rest of our company’s look and feel. Really, the branded blog made all the difference to me. Now visitors can see that it’s connected to New Moon Girl Media at a glance, and its beautiful design makes me more motivated to tell people about it.

  8. Mr Z says:

    Design matters, but not for designs sake. Clean lines and easy to read content is the key.

    I hate pages with hard to read content and/or ugly graphics/flash/google adverts all through them. I can understand the need to earn income, but income should not come at the expense of a professional looking site.

  9. klodian says:

    my opinion is that design is most important, for example I have been regular to problogger because I like the design expecially this desing, anyway now I read this blog because I like what Darren posts

  10. iTransinter says:

    I also think the blog design is really matters.

  11. Lenin Nair says:

    Wow I am so happy to find this post at the appropriate time, Darren.

    A blog’s theme is something that makes all the difference. I had a three column design last time (which I mentioned in some other comments, I guess) that loaded so slow that it was difficult for me to give something useful to the readers. And the result: HIGH BOUNCE RATE!

    Now, the design is most optimized for fast content loading, with a lot of tweaks on it. Here is the new WordPress design post discussing the importance of a theme. I am quite happy that the template is now very useful and the readers can get the content they came for quickly.

    Also, in that post, I have some guidelines for choosing appropriate theme for your blog and some advantages of having a good theme. I admire themes by Problogger, Copyblogger, DoshDosh, etc., I have put links to those admirably designed sites, and am proud now that I have one as well.

    Lenin

  12. Elaine says:

    Are you talking about blog architecture or graphic design?

    If you are talking about the appearance of a blog, my own experience with bare-looking blogs doesn’t affect my intention of reading a post. If the post is well-written, I will look at other posts for value in the content. From that point, I will decide whether to bookmark or subscribe.

    If, however, you are referring to blog architecture – the use of keyword categories and inter-linking, then I think we can agree that it is vital. Not only do search engines have an easier time indexing and ranking the site, but human visitors have an easier time navigating, too.