Let's Get That Blog Looking Great!
As a graphic designer, my life has changed. Everywhere I go I notice design. Poor graphics stick out like a sore thumb and burns my retinas. I wish my world went back to the day I could look around a city and see beauty. Typography stares at me from every corner, bad spacing taunts me, and crummy color schemes keep me awake at night.
This brings me to my topic for today. I have spent the week blog hopping and link sharing. Much like the city, I have had a hard time turning a blind eye to what bloggers were doing to their branding. Improper use of color, tough to read fonts, font sizing issues, and worse. Several years at my career in website consulting and graphic design has shown me the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Creating graphics for the medical industry was a very enlightening experience. It taught me a big lesson when it came to designing items an audience will read. There are people out there with disabilities that inhibit their sight. They can be partially blind, wear bifocals, or aging. Keep this in mind, your readers can be any age and of limited vision. The way you design your site with color to font choices affects your reader. Read on to learn how to improve your blog and optimize your readers’ experience.
Improving Legibility, Increases Followability
1. Blog Style Guide. Your blog or site pages should have a uniformity of color, fonts, and all pages should feel cohesive.
2. Font Color Choice. I have come across many blogs where I am forced to squint to read fonts in light blue, cotton candy pink, or other light colors. Light color schemes are too hard to read and you will immediately lose readers. Use color uniformity across your site for legibility and branding purposes. Pick 2 or 3 colors to keep your image clean and well put together. Remember, light text on a dark background can be very tough to read.
3. Font Sizing. If people have to squint, you definitely will have issues. For clarity and sanity of your reader, choose a font size of 16 pixels or larger.
4. Line Spacing (Leading). Lines of text that are too tight are tiresome for the eye to track. It is also exhausting to the eye to make sense of long spans of text. White space is rest for the eyes, it makes people want to continue reading what you write. Too much white space can make the lines of text feel as if they are floating apart. Meet somewhere in the middle. Line height should be 130% or more.
5. Centering Text. Reading centered text is taxing to read. We are taught to read left-to-right in the U.S., thus the eye scans for a clean, aligned left margin. Centering makes you search, visually, for the beginning of each line.
6. Font Choice. Using a crazy font choice makes it tough for eyes to skim over text. Also, limit your choice to 2 fonts, 3 if you must. Display, handwritten or very fancy fonts should be used for one or 2-word headers. Even then you still should be able to read them. For body copy or navigation, think easy, sans serif (no tails on the letters) type of fonts. Some of my favorite fonts are Open Sans, Roboto, Lato, PT Sans, Source Sans Pro, Exo, Istok, and Play.
7. Info Overload. More is less, cramming everything you can on a page is frustrating to find what is of value to read, or to even determine hierarchy. Practice the graphic design concept of less is more. Give your text and pictures room to breathe.
8. Font Sizes. Choose a standard font size so the brain knows automatically what it is. Headlines should all be a uniform size, all across the board. This goes for body text. Wherever you use each of these, make sure they are always the same if you can help it.
9. Mobile Design. Mobile is the industry standard, your blog should be able to adjust to the mobile platform. Keep in mind when you design, images may get cut off as your blog adjusts to a smaller screen, such as a phone.
10. Platform Cohesion. Whether you are designing for a site, a blog, or social media, your branding strategy should carry across all platforms. You want people to instantly identify with your brand. Fonts, colors, and feel should match on every social outlet you own.
I have included a free download with some lovely, soft backgrounds you may use to add to your blog and branding, no strings attached! Enjoy!