The importance of blog design – #blogchat recap 06/13/10

Last week’s blogchat was all about blog design. We discussed platforms (Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr, Posterous and others), plugins and widgets, and other more traditional design ideas (colors, layout, etc.).

If you’re interested in other people’s take on the discussion, check out these recaps from @ianmrountree and @riyaznet:

We had a lot of great people who introduced themselves as first time #blogchat-ers. Some of them were:

The top tweets of the night:

  • @laurenkgray: The design is really important. You want the design to flow along with the theme of your idea, not detract from it. #blogchat
  • @IAmTimBaker: It doesn’t matter how “pretty” your blog is if the content is boring and doesn’t add anything to the conversation. #BlogChat
  • @GrantGriffiths: The difference between a website and a blog is the fact a blog is never done and ever changing. And easy to update of course #blogchat
  • @CharlieCurve: Websites without updates quickly become cobwebsites. #blogchat (Probably the most retweeted item of the night …)
  • @aurelianogarcia: #blogchat keep your blog as clean as possible from ads and pop ups ..Always have an RSS zone, a twitter follow banner & a good prsnl profile
  • @patrickbjohnson: that is true, but a blog that looks like basic HTML from ’92 probably won’t keep eyes either. #blogchat
  • @MorningMild: the design is like a first impression so you need to make sure it reflects what you are saying otherwise people may not even read #blogchat
  • @MackCollier: The most IMPORTANT information/functionality of your blog should be at the top ‘above the fold’ #blogchat
  • @collier1960: #BlogChat is like having a discussion with on-coming traffic!
  • @goldasich: Content is King. Usability is Queen! #blogchat
  • @whatswithdiane: Don’t be a brand. Be human. #blogchat
  • @jesseluna: Blog design tip, make your main “call to actions” SUPER obvious and easy to find. #blogchat
  • @beverlycornell: 97% of companies w/blogs see higher search rankings; 55% more viewers: 44% more $; Show readers love b4 Google #blogchat (via @robpetersen)

Blogging Platforms

There was a lot of talk about what platforms people were using. While Posterous, Tumblr and even Blogger were praised for their ease of use. Self-hosted WordPress was frequently mentioned as being the most customizable platform.

Other platforms mentioned were Typepad, Drupal, and SquareSpace. (There was mention of the fact that Tumblr may be adding more paid features in the future to allow for more customization.) Several of the WordPress 3.0 upgrades were also mentioned as making the platform more attractive as a content management system.

  • Some of the top bloggers mentioned and the platforms they are using:
  • @GrantGriffiths: maybe, but who owns your content on Tumblr and/or Posterous? What happens to it if they shut you off #blogchat

Recommended Themes

As with any discussion about design and WordPress, there was a great deal of conversation about Headway and Thesis (although it didn’t quite get as heated as I’ve seen some). Thankfully, there was a lot of other discussion about other free and paid themes for self-hosted WordPress blogs and also themes available for other blog platforms. @centsiblelife said that use of the Thesis them helped increase her SEO.

  • @kelliawise: I’m using Headway. Dead simple to make a design and easy to customize. #blogchat

Other themes mentioned:

  • WordPress
    • Woo Theme (@JoeHage)
    • iThemes (@DanGordon, @Deswalsh, @GrantGriffiths)
    • Studio Press (@GrantGriffiths)
    • Press75 (@GrantGriffiths)

The Pluses and Minuses of a Blogroll

One of the more interesting discussions of the evening was whether or not to include a blogroll as part of your design template.

  • @JoeManna found the idea of a blogroll outdated
  • @GrantGriffiths suggested that organic linking would get more attention from bloggers.
  • @sueyoungmedia and a few others recommended sending out a weekly list of links
  • There was also mention by @TwinToddlerDad that instead of having a blogroll as part of a template, he has a page with a list of recommended links — @dannybrown had a similar idea, including a reason why each link has been recommended

Plugins, Widgets

The list of ideas for plugins, widgets was pretty long. Here are some listed with who suggested them.

  • @fearlesscomp: Share This
    • @IAmTimBaker recommended only including Share This links for services where your readers actually might visit
  • @keithstoeckeler: Need to include ways for people to share/e-mail/forward your content. #blogchat
  • @centsiblelife: WP Touch, Get Clicky, StatCounter, Google Analytics, Zementa (photos), Link Within
  • @Cherylfenton: Simple facebook Connect
  • @ComaGirlBlogger: Disqus
  • @JoeManna: Disqus and Askimet integration to help reduce spam
  • @KevinLyons:¬†Turn on the “Reactions” in Disqus to pull in Twitter and other SM
  • @adventuroo: CommentLuv
  • @searchguru: MaxBlogPress Favicon
  • @tiasparkles: Most Popular Posts, Kouguu FB Like
  • @rockinrobync: Clicky
  • @ianmrountree: RSS Grafitti
  • @iBridgeforth: WP-Stats
  • @GLHancock: Feedburner
  • @goldasich: Social Web Links
  • @dannybrown: IntenseDebate
  • ahynes1: Google Friend Connect, Facebook Connect, MyBlogLog, BlogCatalog, TheBlogFrog, TwitterCounter, EntreCard, CMFAds, Adgitize

There were also some fantastic discussions about blog layout (2-column or 3-column), color choices, where to get great pictures (Flickr and iStockPhoto were popular choices. Make sure to check out the transcript for more.

Related links:

  • I love the detail in this – very cool, Sue Anne!

  • sue_anne

    Thanks! It actually had the potential to be a lot more detailed, but I cut a bunch out. There's always so much good stuff shared.