As an amateur template designer, I can't help but notice the number of horribly designed blogs on the internet. Ugly blogs just rub me the wrong way, because they're inexcusable. But that's why I love Blogger. It gives people like you and me the tools we need to easily beautify our blogs. Even if you created your first blog ten minutes ago, you can customize it right now—seriously.
Why you should customize your blogCustomizing your template is important for defining your blog as unique. It makes your blog yours. Why use a template everyone has already seen when you can make your own?
A blog will likely never survive more than a few months if it doesn't stand apart from others. Quality writing is a must, but don't underestimate how big of a role your blog's appearance plays in getting your blog noticed. A bad design can turn a reader away in a nanosecond, while a well-designed template with the proper use of colors and images can enthrall a reader faster than any words can. When a blogger doesn't put the smallest effort into customizing their template, it makes me wonder how much they're putting into the content. Probably not much. So it's true that good writing is vital, but if you devote some time to your template, I promise that you'll never regret it.
You don't have to make huge changes. Even the smallest tweaks can make your blog go from ho-hum to amazing. Here are a few tips on how to get the most out of Blogger's customization features:
Use a header imageThe feature to add a header image to your blog isn't a new one, and it's one you should put to good use. Almost all blogs benefit from a header image. It adds color, but most importantly, it gives your readers something to recognize. Who is going to remember your blog if your header looks just like another: with stark text lying against a plain background? I know I won't. So, be creative.
A header image should always be:
- Consistent with the style of the rest of your blog
- Be of good quality (not fuzzy or pixelated)
- Be cropped to fit your blog
The only time when a header image isn't needed is when you're trying to achieve a minimalistic look, and the blog title alone is enough to tie the design together.
Use appropriate fonts and colorsThe Template Designer gives you over 70 options for fonts and endless possibilities for colors. Now that's some potential.
But before you go crazy with fonts, don't think that such a wide variety gives you a good reason to use them all. It doesn't. When it comes to fonts, it's all about maintaining balance. Using too many different fonts can make a blog look cluttered and amateurish—like the blogger wanted to use all the "cool" fonts. But not using enough fonts can look bland.
I recommend choosing two or three font families that work well together, and use these exclusively. One of the fonts should be a simple, standard font used for the main text, while the other fonts, which may be stylized, should be reserved for the headings. It's perfectly fine for two fonts to clash—contrast keeps things interesting—but three clashing fonts, in my opinion, is too many.
Now onto colors.
Text should be readable, but a surprising number of people forget this. The classic black text on a white background works for a while, but then it becomes murder on the eyes. So does white text on a black background, and that yellow and black combo that so many people adore. How then, do you obtain readable text that doesn't blind your readers? The answer isn't contrast, but contrast in moderation.
Here are a few tips for choosing colors:
- If you like the black on white color scheme, try a dark gray instead of black.
- Avoid colorful text and backgrounds for the posts. Subdued colors are best for this.
- You can use the more vibrant colors for accents, such as headings and borders.
Once you've chosen your colors, try reading your blog as a typical visitor would. If, after a few minutes, the words appear to be "burned into your eyeballs", you obviously have too much contrast.
Choose a good layoutMost of us can manage to know what colors are readable and pleasing to the eye, but what about layout?
Your layout should be simple, easy to navigate, and generally, no wider than about 1000 pixels. When choosing a layout, you should take your content into account: what needs to be there, and what doesn't?
Most blogs don't need more than one sidebar, because multiple sidebars are distracting and difficult to navigate. Nobody wants to scroll up and down to get a good view of your stupendous columns. And if you think you need that much space for your many widgets, think again. If a widget doesn't serve a useful purpose to the reader, it has no place on your blog. Widgets such as navigational menus, recent tweets, and popular posts are practical. Music players, calendars, and annoying animations are not. They'll only contribute to the disorder of your blog and make for a poky load time.
Final wordsSurely, with Blogger's amazing features and so many options to choose from, there's no reason why you wouldn't want to customize your blog. Don't you feel the creative juices flowing now?
Always remember: when designing a blog, your readers' priorities should be at the top. Readers want to read. They want to do what they want to do and they don't want your sloppy blog to stop them. Yes, it does take some time to customize a blog, but I promise it's well worth the effort. So what in the world are you waiting for?