Over the years WordPress has become more than simply a blogging platform, evolving into a highly functional, easy-to-use tool for creating many different forms of web content. Whole websites are now entirely created with WordPress. But at heart, WordPress is still – first and foremost – a blogging platform, allowing users to create personalised virtual soapboxes for broadcasting their thoughts far and wide.
A blog which is clearly laid out and aesthetically pleasing is crucial if you wish to attract a large readership. You may write the most in-depth, fascinating blog posts in the world, but if the page itself is ugly, or the layout is confusing, the likelihood is that very few people may take the time to read them.
So how do you make your blog attractive? One of the great things about WordPress is its versatility, meaning it’s relatively easy to get the look that best suits the subject of your blog. And if you know some basic programming, the possibilities are almost endless.
Here, then, are a few simple tips that even the most inexperienced blogger can use to make their blog beautiful, attracting loyal readership in the process.
1. Choose an appropriate template
Hardly anyone starts from scratch when building their blog, and with little wonder: with so many great-looking templates out there to choose from – many of which are free – it’s easy to find several ‘looks’ that might be right for you. But which one should you choose? A good starting point is to think very carefully about the content you will be featuring on your blog and try to find or adapt a template to match. For example, if you’re considering starting a wine blog, you might choose a template that features rich, warm reds and an elaborate, swirly typeface for your headings.
2. Structure your blog well
The importance of this point cannot be overstated. It’s absolutely vital that your blog is well-structured. This means balancing the layout, so that no one element of the page dominates the screen, or draws attention away from what you want your reader to be looking at. Of course, this will again depend on your content: if you plan to embed videos in your posts, it’s probably best to adopt a one-column format; whereas a text-heavy blog may be better viewed in a more newspaper-style layout of two or even three columns.
Similarly, make sure that the intrinsic elements of the blog – heading, background elements, links – are placed in such a way that they are visible, but do not attract attention away from the main content.
3. Learn to code
4. Add images
Depending on the subject matter of your blog, you may want to include images to add a bit of variety. A great resource for this is Flickr, where you will find a large number of images available under the Creative Commons License. This will help you avoid potentially bothersome copyright issues down the line – so long as you credit the source appropriately. Once you’ve found an image, simply open WordPress and select ‘add an image’ on your post dashboard. Be careful, though: too many images might clutter up your blog and could turn people away.
5. The devil’s in the detail
As with many artistic or creative endeavours, it’s often the case that a lot of little things add up to an overall impression. This is true of web design and blogging especially, and you’d be surprised how much of a difference focusing on little details like borders and shadows can make. If you take the time to indulge your obsessive side and iron out all the creases in your blog, your readership will definitely feel the difference. They may not notice that you’ve added a specially-designed social network button, or your own custom Gravatar, but chances are the blog will feel slicker and more polished.
It should be easy to implement the majority of these tips when creating your blog – be it on a tablet or laptop. If you’re doing a lot of traveling or want the flexibility of blogging on the go, consider investing in an ultrabook – these light and powerful laptops will provide you with plenty of tools to create a popular blog. The only thing on this list that requires a small investment of extra time is learning to code, but even that is well worth doing, because of the range of possibilities that this opens up. Hopefully, these tips will provide a solid starting point for the design of your WordPress blog, and give you inspiration for further experimentation and tweaks.