March 23, 2011

3 great blog layout - design ideas

What is the best design for your blog? Should you copy the beautiful design that you came across recently?  Not necessarily.

A design that best suits a blog [or any type of website] depends on many considerations, the most important being the subject of the blog. It is obvious, thus, that blogs on scientific research, food, fashion, news – all will need different design treatment.

 Once you know how colourful or serious your blog should look - based on your subject - you need to see how to arrange the elements. We’ll talk more about the latter aspect in this post, and we limit ourselves here to three top design schemes [or layouts] for blogs.

You will notice that only some themes and templates made available by Wordpress and Blogger and those available on the web do conform to these design schemes. But if you look deeper into their layouts, the good ones will have taken care of the logic behind different arrangements: appearance as a whole, consistency, readability, navigability. Themes and templates, however smart and colourful they may look,  are likely to make your blog confusing and cluttered as you go along, if they do not conform to the basic layout logic.     

A. The standard design

A. standard, popular blog layout
This blog design has a heading bar and below it, a link bar with tabs for different pages / labels/ etc for quick navigation. Keeping this link bar here makes these links clearly visible while not cluttering the rest of the blog space. The space below it is for the main content. The side bar [left or right, as you like] is for external links, ‘recent comments’, ‘popular posts’, followers, and other widgets. The main column is much wider than the side bar and here come the posts. In this layout, you may like to have a colourful border on the sides [and mixing with the heading bar if you so like] a beautiful title image that flows down on one side and so on, but such embellishments are optional. You can have more than two columns if that suits your purpose, but if not handled properly, that will make the blog cluttered. 
The IndianTopBlogs site is an example of this  layout in its simplest form. While the top menu bar helps in navigation into major segments, the bottom area makes resources categorised in different ways.
This layout suits most types of blogs.

B. colorful blog design, with elements standing out
Blog layout with elements popping out

This blog design has a unifying picture or motif or solid colour background that covers the entire blog, and different segments stand out of the background. In Blogger's  dynamic views, this corresponds to 'snapshot' and  'flipcard' views. This blog design will eminently suit you if your content can be divided into a few clear-cut segments. For example, a blog on film industry can have one segment on celebrities, another on music, another on blockbusters, and so on.
There can be many variations of this design, e.g. each segment button can have picture / drawing or a shot of the latest post. 

The composite layout, with elements from both the above styles

C. composite blog layout
You may like to have a blog with a clear-cut heading bar and a link bar for navigation. The main content area can be distinctly divided into links [in a side bar] and posts [in the main column] within a unifying background.
For variety, the side bar can have thumbnails. 'Sidebar' and to some extent 'Time slide' dynamic views of Blogger are examples of two variations of this style.

These blog design schemes suit as well to the blogs designed independently of  Wordpress / Blogger and other such hosting sites. However, necessary modifications would be needed for blogs written in Arabic, Japanese and other scripts not written left-to-right. 

In deciding which side to keep the side-bar, where to keep the main segment button, etc, also please see this post on which areas draw the attention of the blog visitor the most.