So you're a writer, not a designer.
You're on a tight budget, so you don't exactly have extra cash to spend on professional web design.
So your content is great, but your blog looks a little “basic.”
Maybe even a bit unprofessional.
It's missing a certain je ne sais quois, a sleek cohesion that makes the difference between looking like a serious, professional business, versus coming across as “just another hobby blogger” in a way that doesn't befit your brand.
Your website needs some visual branding, a cohesive aesthetic that works for your unique niche and content.
If you have the money, it's a good idea to hire a freelance designer.
But if you don't, there are a few simple tweeks you can make yourself that can make a world of difference.
Things like typography, imagery, and color schemes should form a coherent gestalt.
You also want to eliminate any unnecessary clutter on the page.
In a recent blog post, Blog Tyrant goes over three big factors that matter for web design.
Change your font to a deliberate typographical style
I’m always a little bit surprised at how many bloggers use ugly fonts that are difficult to read. After all, the point of a blog is its content and, as such, we should make sure at least that looks good.
While I regularly fluctuate between loving and hating the font here on Blog Tyrant, I do try to listen to feedback and observe trends about the size and style of the text to ensure that it is something readers enjoy and find easy to look at.
Typography is more than just the font – it’s the way you match it to other colors and styles on your site, and how all of those things relate to your brand as a whole.
Find or make consistent images and photos
If you’ve been reading Blog Tyrant for a while you’ll know that we’ve been transitioning to a little character that finds himself in certain situations.
While the evolution of that style hasn’t been 100% deliberate, the goal was to move away from the “couch photo” that used to be on the homepage – it was effective as a branding tool but difficult to incorporate into the graphics of each week’s post.
The images that you use on your blog are so important – using the wrong style or type can have bad consequences for readership and, in some cases, even cause you legal issues if you use a photo that you’re not supposed to.
As we talked about in our guide on finding images for your blog a few times, the best thing to do is create your own images or take your own photos because it is original content that is appreciated by Google from an SEO point of view, and readers from an engagement point of view.
It’s important that your images and photos all have a consistent feel to them – it’s not just about having great quality ones. The idea is that it enhances your text, but also helps people to recognize your brand as soon as they see it.
Head over to a site like 99Designs and hold a contest to see if you can find a visual artists or graphic designer that might be able to help you come up with something that you use again and again.
Or, if you’re a D-I-Y kind of a person, consider learning a bit of Photoshop or at least get an app like Word Swag that lets you do something interesting things with text and images.
Remove as much stuff as is possible and effective
We talk about this quite a lot, but so many bloggers clog up their sidebars and footers and headers with stuff that doesn’t need to be there and only detracts from the main event – the content.
For example, in this post on building a user friendly blog and this one on not using ads on your blog we talk about how too much clutter can actually prevent people from taking an action. Too much choice can be paralyzing.
This all comes back to your blogging strategy and the goals you have for your blog. There really is no need to have more than one or two things in your sidebar and footer. That is, your blog should really only have a single call to action.
You can learn more about making a DIY website look professionally designed over at Blog Tyrant.