I have been busy writing free blog reviews each week for those that have requested a review. When I review a blog one of the criteria I use to rate a blog is how well the blog is designed. There are many different designs that you can use for a blog, but I think for many new bloggers what to include in the design can seem confusing.
I have decided to compile a list of the items I look for in a blog. Others will have their opinion, but here are mine.
The Layout of a Blog
Before I talk about the elements, or widgets, to include it is important to have a well defined layout. The layout sets the tone on how your blog will look and feel to a visitor.
There are a few layout standards that you can see throughout the many blogs online. Some blogs incorporate one navigational sidebar and the content, while others include two sidebars. Some layouts place the sidebar on the left side of the page, while others place it on the right side. For those with two sidebars, you may see them split on the left and right side with the content in the middle, or both sidebars on one side only.
Some will argue that putting your sidebars on the right side is better for SEO (Search Engine Optimization), but I haven’t really seen any proof of this. I have my sidebars on the right side so the content is read first.
The layout you choose should include at least one sidebar for navigation, and a location for the content. Above both of these elements, you should include a header that includes an image of your blog and links back to your home page. Some may include the blog name in text in the header, but I like images as you can do more with them.
What to Include on Your Blog
This is where many new bloggers may have difficulty. There are so many widgets on the Internet that you can include in your blog, which may be confusing as to what yours should actually use. I’ll try to make it easier for you.
The first thing you should include is a way to subscribe to the RSS feed of your blog. This can be either through a button/image, a form to subscribe via e-mail, or both. This should be located at the top of your navigational sidebar.
It is important to introduce yourself to your visitors by writing an “About Me” page. Many visitors that like reading blogs, especially those that provide information or advice, like to know that the author of the blog has some experience on the topic they are writing about. This should be near the top if you can put it there.
The next is a listing of the categories of your posts. This helps visitors read posts for a specific topic without having to perform a search. For blogs created in Blogger, the labels function performs the same thing. Each post should be assigned a category, and then the categories listed in the sidebar below the subscription buttons, or the “About Me” information.
You should also include a list of archives to allow visitors to look through your past posts. This isn’t as important, so it can be included further down your sidebar.
Including Advertising on Your Blog
It seems most people that start blogs always include advertising. Why not try and make some money with your blog? The problem is many new bloggers get carried away with the ads.
Making money online takes time and effort, and doesn’t happen overnight. You need to first build a visitor base before making money off your blog.
When placing ads on your blog, ensure that you keep things organized, meaning don’t just place ads everywhere on the post pages. The ads should blend in nicely with the blog, to make the content stand out and not the ads.
When you first start out, don’t worry about placing ads, in fact forget about them until you have over 100 visitors a day. You won’t make much money from them anyway, and you should be concentrating on your content in the beginning. Then as the number of visitors grows, you can place the ads on your blog. Remember to blend in the ads so they don’t standout.
For many new bloggers creating a well designed site can be a daunting task. When starting a blog, it is important to add several elements, such as RSS subscription, categories, and an “About Me” page. Next concentrate on writing good unique content, and not worry about such things as advertising. Once your visitor count gets above 100, then you can start looking into advertising. Remember, however, not to bombard your visitors with ads, but instead blend them into the blog.
I would like your opinion on what elements you think should be included in a blog.