How to Eliminate Clutter from Your Blog
Minimalist web design is increasingly en vogue right now as more and more sites seek streamlined pages and novel aesthetics. Minimal design is also the “modern” face of web design; sites that keep a cluttered look run the risk of looking out of date. Furthermore, sites that are full of visual distractions are usually harder for users to understand and navigate, thus detracting from the site’s purpose. If you’re looking to draw more visitors to your blog or personal website, it can be helpful to refer to design blogs and successful corporate sites for examples of outstanding minimalist design.
Let’s learn how to make your blog look less like this…
and more like this…
For bloggers in particular, it can be almost too easy to fill pages with widgets and other bits and pieces. Although bloggers typically add widgets to a page in order to improve function, there can come a point when it becomes too much. Stuck in a rut with your blog design, but want to de-clutter? Here are some things you can do.
Define the Blog’s Purpose
The first step to removing excess material from your blog is to have a completely clear and well-articulated goal for the site. Every piece of the blog’s design should support its mission. So before you do anything, define your purpose. Try something like, “People who come to my blog will ____.” If you can identify a clear goal for visitors, it will be much easier to decide which elements belong on your blog, and which do not.
Choose a Focal Point
What is the number one thing you want visitors to your blog to focus on? Once you decide, you can start paring down elements on your blog accordingly. Your blog should be laid out so that it directs the user’s attention to your focal point, which means whatever the focus is will probably be towards the top left of the page, or in the center. Although the page below is a fairly dramatic example, an eye-catching visual draws the eye to the page’s center:
One way to create a strong visual focal point is to use fewer columns. Too many sidebars can make it hard to focus on the actual content. If you have a three column design, consider going down to just two; if you already use two columns, think about ways to minimize the effect of the secondary column. The above example also illustrates the creative potential of column-less layout.
Get Rid of Extras
A useful metric for deciding if you need some element on your blog is to ask yourself what it does to promote the blog’s purpose. Go through any widgets or other pieces on the blog and ask yourself “What is this doing for my blog?” Do you really need a little map that shows where your visitors are coming from? If you have tags, do you also need a category list? If you have a search bar, do you need tags or categories at all? If you can’t think of a reason other than “It looks cool!” or “Everyone has one!” then you do not need it.
Make Friends with Typography
Typography is the art of lettering, and thoughtful typography can often eliminate the need for lots of graphics. Consider ditching a banner that consists of an image and tagline, replacing it with a creatively lettered blog title.
Good typography can set the tone for a blog without going too heavy on images. Keep in mind that elaborate lettering will convey creativity or whimsy:
The style of the above header would convey the blog’s tone even without the banner or pink background.
Meanwhile a simpler or more traditional font may convey a certain degree of establishment or a traditional sensibility:
As you can see from the above example, simple doesn’t have to mean dull or outdated.
Kaikkonen Design offers an outstanding tutorial on getting the most out of your typography, in terms of both usability and aesthetics:
If you’re having trouble finding lettering that suits the theme of your blog, take some inspiration from creative collections like this one, from Creative Can:
Plus, you can think of typography as more minimal than images in another way: it loads faster.
If You Use Pictures, Make Them Count
It’s okay to use images in a blog even when you’re killing clutter, but keep it down to one or two and maximize the impact of the ones you do use. Most people can probably think of a few blogs that overuse images (several food blogs leap to mind). Past a certain point, the user will just scroll through images wondering when you plan to get to the point. Choose one or two really great images, position them strategically and don’t go overboard. When in doubt, remember that less is more. Bentley’s website is a good example of the impact of a powerful image:
Keep these tips in mind and you can maintain a clean, sophisticated blog design that visitors love to look at. A blog that values quality over quantity is always apt to draw new readers and keep them coming back for more.
About the author
Sara Collins is a writer for NerdWallet. She works hard to simplify complex topics, from increasing blog readership through effective design to understanding section 529 college savings plans.
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