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Weblog design sense in three steps

I’m gonna walk through some blog design tips to show that we can turn it into a product that makes sense, without me doing any design work at all. I’m lazy like that. We’ll start off by getting some data together.

It’s an easy trick to consider your weblog a product. If you think “man, I do this for myself,” then ask yourself what you would like to use of the weblog. If you do it with at least an audience in mind, think of what they want to see. Rather, what do you want to show, why do you want to show that, and what should they see first? Write down what you want to show. Having a physical list helps, because writing things down takes a little more of your focus and it could help you consider things better.


What do you care about most? What should people do, explore more or comment? Is there actually enough content for three columns here? Wait, the Flickr photos kinda make a one-column design crowded. If you want people to comment, make that obvious; if you want people to explore the site, give them plenty means to do so. Don’t forget your checklist and your focus, though.

The format

Though this seems like an extension of the previous two paragraphs, it shouldn’t be. The definition of ‘format’ here is how you publish and present. John Gruber’s Daring Fireball is all about his content. There are no categories, and only two kinds of content. Jeffrey Zeldman’s Daily Report has changed over the past ten years. I recall his old format—short posts on a long page, whereas the long items appeared on other sites—but am not able to link to it anymore. Jeffrey, feel like showing us your old format again? Yet another format example is Faruk’s KuraFire. Faruk has a lot of content (you’ll be amazed), and has decided to display his posts categorised. His Articles are separate from his Log Entries, because they are. One last entirely different approach is Joen’s Noscope: he maintains a monthly lust to the eye with his installments, but that is separate from his journal that has a format akin to John’s. Joen’s front page contains a brief overview of his most notable features.

I hope these examples show the many possibilities of how one can present one’s content. There is no such thing as an ultimate solution in weblog design.

One last thing: the atmosphere

This isn’t entirely about design. I do want to mention it. How you come across defines design as well. Dan Benjamin is living proof. When he changed his writing, everything changed. Although the headings (they are random, check it out!) refer to the olden days, it’s nothing more than a memory. I still think it was a good shift, Dan!

The most important things to consider, as always, are the whats and whys. Greg Storey once wrote about that quite eloquently. If the current direction of your weblog doesn’t feel right, make that list. Prioritising empowers.


  1. “There is no such thing as an ultimate solution in weblog design.”

    Too true, however, if more designers and bloggers took the time to prioritise - and most importantly - have an understanding for how a site is used (navigated through, etc.) then I’d visit more sites instead of relying on RSS feeds for the presentations I find clunky and unintuitive.

  2. what bugging me slightly is that in IE6 the head of a person in your logo is half off. In Firefox it looks ok.

  3. Your post inspired me to start sketching out a new layout for my new site. Lots of good points here :-)

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