in Web Design

Keeping Web Design in the Conversation

Web Design Strategy

This is a guest post from Ashworth Creative. With design at the heart of all it does, Ashworth Creative strategically plans communication through website development, branding and marketing graphics that stand out and set apart. Ashworth develops success for clients through creative problem solving, custom processes, calculated alliances and professional knowledge. The Ashworth blog is a creative and technical resource for an intrigued audience.

Design is what causes us to want a BMW over a Honda or an iPhone over a Blackberry or to shop at Target over Walmart. Whether good or bad, design is all around us. We may not recognize it consciously, but every one of us is influenced by design, no matter what form it takes. Having said all that, does design matter in the effectiveness of a blog or website?

It is common to say that all blogs and websites are created for an audience. Most people that visit your blog do not know who you are or understand the essence for your site. Think of the design of your blog or website as the first impression you make on your audience. Sure, it is not right to judge a book by its cover, but your blog appearance needs to make a lasting impression. Once something is being presented to an audience, then design and aesthetics become important. Design and presentation is the first thing someone sees before ever laying eyes on your brilliant content.

We believe that your blog design should reflect your ambitions, passions, and personality.

Design is something that gives your blog character and visual interest that your blog content can’t necessarily achieve at first glance. Think of the design of your blog as your brand. By branding your blog to fit your content and passions, you are sending your audience a distinct message.

Let’s say your blog focuses on Search Engine Optimization and news related to SEO. What message do you send to your readers if your blog theme is plants and flowers? It just doesn’t make sense to your audience. This also does not mean that if your blog is about computers and technology, that your theme should target only electronics. You get the drift. In some instances, the design is so poorly developed that the viewer may lose patience in search of important information. The results of bad design can often drive viewers away in frustration.

Organization is crucial in any type of design. The content and elements need simple organization with a system of hierarchy to keep the site navigable for users. We all know how frustrating it is to land on a blog and to be bombarded with so much information, images and headlines that we can’t even focus on anything in particular. A familiar design phrase “less is more” is especially true for use on the web. Keep in mind that the audience needs space to breathe.

Good blog design needs graphics and images that support the content presented. The colors used throughout should also remain consistent with simple color combination that share a relationship. Your blog should exude an overall consistency in design to avoid confusion, distractions and most importantly bounce rates.

We experience joy when we visit a site that has great content coupled with great design. To say that the content of a blog or site takes precedence over the design or that design has more importance than content is to deal in absolutes. Having great content AND design is vital to a successful web presence. Design is what will steal the interest of your viewer and content is what will keep your viewer engaged. The two should be joined together harmoniously.

(Image courtesy of gentlepurespace)

Any suggestions about blog design? What works or doesn’t work for you? How important is design to a blog or website’s overall success?

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24 Comments

  1. Great post! I absoulutely agree. Ironically, I just met with Matt C. Last night and he made this point over and over again. There are too many mediocre blogs out there. Therefore, information must be quick and easy to find and design should be magnetic. Regardless of how fabulous the content is I’m not going to stick around on an ugly and messy site. And this, friends, is why I’ve hired Matt to do a complete overhaul of my own site!

    • Magnetic, organized, easy to navigate design – I couldn’t have said it better myself Nicole. Design doesn’t need to be flashy – in fact – doing too much can really clutter your message and cloud your calls-t0-action. Content is the meat and potatoes, but food usually tastes better when it’s presented well. Looking forward to giving you and your divas (lol – sorry, I had to go there) a sexy new look!

  2. Great post! I absoulutely agree. Ironically, I just met with Matt C. Last night and he made this point over and over again. There are too many mediocre blogs out there. Therefore, information must be quick and easy to find and design should be magnetic. Regardless of how fabulous the content is I’m not going to stick around on an ugly and messy site. And this, friends, is why I’ve hired Matt to do a complete overhaul of my own site!

    • Magnetic, organized, easy to navigate design – I couldn’t have said it better myself Nicole. Design doesn’t need to be flashy – in fact – doing too much can really clutter your message and cloud your calls-t0-action. Content is the meat and potatoes, but food usually tastes better when it’s presented well. Looking forward to giving you and your divas (lol – sorry, I had to go there) a sexy new look!

  3. Great post! I’ve actually had this debate/conversation before, and I totally agree with you! While content is absolutely important, you need those design elements to draw someone in enough to read it! Plus, if your blog design is lacking, it might come off as slightly unprofessional…even if your contest is amazing.

    • I have seen, time and time again, bloggers who get really burned out with writing, and then they decide to go a new direction with their design and it almost revitalizes their entire blogging experience. A little bit of design work can go a LONG way – and as you can see around you here – I don’t work in excess. Simple and efficient that focuses on showcasing my content first and foremost. It’s safe to say a lot of people would be turned away before even giving me a chance if I was working with a poor design. Thanks for the comment!

  4. Great post! I’ve actually had this debate/conversation before, and I totally agree with you! While content is absolutely important, you need those design elements to draw someone in enough to read it! Plus, if your blog design is lacking, it might come off as slightly unprofessional…even if your contest is amazing.

    • I have seen, time and time again, bloggers who get really burned out with writing, and then they decide to go a new direction with their design and it almost revitalizes their entire blogging experience. A little bit of design work can go a LONG way – and as you can see around you here – I don’t work in excess. Simple and efficient that focuses on showcasing my content first and foremost. It’s safe to say a lot of people would be turned away before even giving me a chance if I was working with a poor design. Thanks for the comment!

  5. This couldn’t have come at a better time for me, as I work to make the design of my blog look more like ME and jive with what I am writing. Thanks Matt and Ashworth Creative!

    • Thanks for coming by Becca. If you need any advice or suggestions on tailoring your custom design moving forward – feel free to use me as a resource. I think you’ll find that less really is more – and you don’t have to do a lot to make a BIG impact. Cheers!

  6. This couldn’t have come at a better time for me, as I work to make the design of my blog look more like ME and jive with what I am writing. Thanks Matt and Ashworth Creative!

    • Thanks for coming by Becca. If you need any advice or suggestions on tailoring your custom design moving forward – feel free to use me as a resource. I think you’ll find that less really is more – and you don’t have to do a lot to make a BIG impact. Cheers!

  7. This may ruffle some feathers, but I will preface what I’m about to say by noting that I think this post is directed at a specific segment of the blogging population. If you’re hoping to hone in on a particular subject, making your blog presentable to that audience is fine, maybe (maybe) advisable. Do flowers and babies discount a blog focused on tech or SEO or auto repair? No. Not at all. Some of the most successful bloggers in every niche have completely irrelevant ‘themes’. They win with content.

    I think a blog that’s successful (as measured by something like traffic or respect) has to be 95% of what it is on a pure white, organized, non-themed skin. No one reads the New Yorker because of the cover…but the covers are killer. This is coming from a design major…I think blogging is uniquely equipped to negate the design aspect of site design in favor of generating great content.

    The site should reflect something you, personally, as a writer, like looking at. You’re success, if that’s what you’re writing for, will live and die solely on your ability to push out stuff people want to read. Hell, I’d pay more attention to your font choice than anything else.

    Your point as to organization is well taken; every blogger needs to consider the way their blog looks, how it’s organized, and what’s available to any investigative reader who’s willing to give up 40 seconds of their time to make a decision on the writer.

    I just don’t think flashy, pretty design is worth worrying about. It’s fun…REALLY fun…but in my estimation has a very, very small impact on overall success.

    • My feathers are officialy ruffled.

      Haha, only kidding D. I think your points here are extremely valid. At the core, and even on the surface, you will live and die by the content you put out. I am actually VERY simplistic in my design strategy – focusing on design that does nothing more than enhance the aestheticism of the content in front of the reader. Nothing will cause your readers to lose focus faster than a disorganized cluttered web design (I’m thinking back to the old 90’s websites with the flashing backgrounds and midi files that would automatically fire up when the site was loaded).

      Content is king – there’s no argument there – but I do think design plays a somewhat significant role in the overall reader EXPERIENCE. And at the end of the day – design does have to reflect your personality and vision – as was stated by the folks at Ashworth above and something I preach to everyone I talk to and work with.

      Thanks for the thoughts Derek – you don’t have to worry about ruffling any feathers here. Drinks soon!

      • At the end of the day and when all is said and done, if you had the exact same content presented in two different ways, one way being well designed and organized, and the other way being careless and unorganized, there would definitely be one that would be more successful over the other. But design can only do so much. If there is no substance behind the design then it will fail and leave the audience with a sense of disappointment. Who remembers the very first iPhone? It looked fantastic, almost like a piece of art, putting to shame the design of every other phone on the market, but as an actual phone it was derided in the press for not working properly. As beautifully as something can be presented, in order to be truly successful there must be substance behind it.

  8. This may ruffle some feathers, but I will preface what I’m about to say by noting that I think this post is directed at a specific segment of the blogging population. If you’re hoping to hone in on a particular subject, making your blog presentable to that audience is fine, maybe (maybe) advisable. Do flowers and babies discount a blog focused on tech or SEO or auto repair? No. Not at all. Some of the most successful bloggers in every niche have completely irrelevant ‘themes’. They win with content.

    I think a blog that’s successful (as measured by something like traffic or respect) has to be 95% of what it is on a pure white, organized, non-themed skin. No one reads the New Yorker because of the cover…but the covers are killer. This is coming from a design major…I think blogging is uniquely equipped to negate the design aspect of site design in favor of generating great content.

    The site should reflect something you, personally, as a writer, like looking at. You’re success, if that’s what you’re writing for, will live and die solely on your ability to push out stuff people want to read. Hell, I’d pay more attention to your font choice than anything else.

    Your point as to organization is well taken; every blogger needs to consider the way their blog looks, how it’s organized, and what’s available to any investigative reader who’s willing to give up 40 seconds of their time to make a decision on the writer.

    I just don’t think flashy, pretty design is worth worrying about. It’s fun…REALLY fun…but in my estimation has a very, very small impact on overall success.

    • My feathers are officialy ruffled.

      Haha, only kidding D. I think your points here are extremely valid. At the core, and even on the surface, you will live and die by the content you put out. I am actually VERY simplistic in my design strategy – focusing on design that does nothing more than enhance the aestheticism of the content in front of the reader. Nothing will cause your readers to lose focus faster than a disorganized cluttered web design (I’m thinking back to the old 90’s websites with the flashing backgrounds and midi files that would automatically fire up when the site was loaded).

      Content is king – there’s no argument there – but I do think design plays a somewhat significant role in the overall reader EXPERIENCE. And at the end of the day – design does have to reflect your personality and vision – as was stated by the folks at Ashworth above and something I preach to everyone I talk to and work with.

      Thanks for the thoughts Derek – you don’t have to worry about ruffling any feathers here. Drinks soon!

      • At the end of the day and when all is said and done, if you had the exact same content presented in two different ways, one way being well designed and organized, and the other way being careless and unorganized, there would definitely be one that would be more successful over the other. But design can only do so much. If there is no substance behind the design then it will fail and leave the audience with a sense of disappointment. Who remembers the very first iPhone? It looked fantastic, almost like a piece of art, putting to shame the design of every other phone on the market, but as an actual phone it was derided in the press for not working properly. As beautifully as something can be presented, in order to be truly successful there must be substance behind it.

  9. I’d take a nice minimalist design over something cluttered everyday. The content will drive it home.

    At the same time, the website should have paths that the reader can follow for your calls to action. So for my soccer sites, they come in, are directed to click a link, then they get to that link, get the info, and are directed to another call, maybe to register, add in an email, etc. Don’t lead someone to a dead end.

    PS. Best website ever right here. http://www.angelfire.com/super/badwebs/

    • Haha – yes! This was the exact example I was looking for of a 90’s website. Classic.

      Always important for your calls to action to follow through – and make sure that the breadcrumb trail you want people to follow is clear and easy to navigate.

  10. I’d take a nice minimalist design over something cluttered everyday. The content will drive it home.

    At the same time, the website should have paths that the reader can follow for your calls to action. So for my soccer sites, they come in, are directed to click a link, then they get to that link, get the info, and are directed to another call, maybe to register, add in an email, etc. Don’t lead someone to a dead end.

    PS. Best website ever right here. http://www.angelfire.com/super/badwebs/

    • Haha – yes! This was the exact example I was looking for of a 90’s website. Classic.

      Always important for your calls to action to follow through – and make sure that the breadcrumb trail you want people to follow is clear and easy to navigate.