10 Website Design Tips For A Good Blog – Beginner’s Guide

Following on from our recent post about free WordPress themes for starting a blog, I got thinking about the different website design elements that dictate whether a website is a good blog or not.

Every website is unique, but there are certain features (or rules if you will) that you should follow to make sure your site is competing at the highest level.

10 Website Design Tips For A Good Blog - Beginners Guide

1. Make A Good First Impression

First impressions count, especially online.  It has been stated that websites only have about 5 seconds to make an impression upon a visitor.  If they don’t like what they see, they likely won’t stick around for long.

For this reason, websites need to make sure that they make an instant impact upon a visitor in order to grab their attention.  Arguably the most important aspect to focus on should be branding.

Many people are likely to stumble upon your site by accident, but if you can instantly make an impression (be it with your logo, site name, the colours you use, the layout of your site, etc.) they will be much more likely to remember you and come back again.

2. Site Speed

Due to the fact that you have so little time to make a good first impression, you need to make sure that your site is running as fast as possible.  You could have the best designed blog on the internet full with excellent content, but if it takes 10 minutes to load a single page, people won’t stick around to see any of it.

Like we previously said, you only have about 5 seconds to make a good first impression on people.  Your page load time factors into this, so ideally your pages need to load up in a couple of seconds or less.  In fact Amazon managed to increase revenue by about 1% for every 100 milliseconds of load time improvement, which if you have a website the size of Amazon, that is a lot of money!

To learn how fast your website is running and find tips on how to improve your website speed, check out the Google PageSpeed Tool.

3. Mobile Friendly

The internet has changed dramatically in the last few years.  As well as everything getting much faster, the way in which we access information online has changed.  More and more people access the internet while on the go via their mobile or tablet.  In fact 2014 is predicted to be the year when mobile internet usage actually overtakes desktop internet usage.

Mobile Internet Usage

This is why it is extremely important that you make sure that your website is “mobile friendly” or “responsive” as it is also known.  If people can’t access your website via their smart phone then you are limiting the amount of traffic that you can potentially receive.

4. Flash Is Dead

Despite the fact that Flash has been on a downhill slope for the past few years, there are still plenty of websites that still use it.  The reason why many have stopped using it on their sites is because it doesn’t work on mobile devices.  As we have already discussed, mobile usage is on the rise, which is why it isn’t the best idea to continue to use it.

5. Clear Navigation

This point should go without saying, yet there are still plenty of websites that fail in this area.

People can find your blog in a number of different ways online.  However they manage to find you, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to stay on your site for longer.  This is greatly helped when people can easily navigate around your site to find your other posts and content.

Clear navigation can come in many different forms.  The easiest, and arguably the most effective, is to include a clear menu on all of your pages that links to all your feeder pages (i.e. category pages, blog, product page, contact page, etc.).  This helps traffic to flow easily around your site no matter what page a visitor lands on.

Navigation doesn’t start and finish with a simple menu though; good navigation comes in many forms, for example;

  • List links to your most popular posts in your sidebar
  • Add internal  links within your posts to your other relevant content
  • Add other useful links in your footer
  • Link to relevant posts beneath your articles
  • Think about the layout of your homepage.  Can people find all the main areas of your site?

If you want to build a successful blog you need to spend time addressing the navigation of your site.  It can help to get feedback from other people to let you know how they find navigating around your site.

6. Check Your Links

Continuing on from the navigation theme, it is important that you continue to monitor the links on your site (both internal and external).  It is extremely easy to spend a few hours writing a post to publish on your site and then forgetting about it.  The internet is continually changing and evolving, which means the pages that you link to in a post may not be there in the future.

Now this may not seem that bad on face value, but broken links aren’t good for a website.  Search engines take note of sites with “broken links”.  The odd one or two won’t matter that much, but too many and you can get penalized in the search rankings.

Thankfully there are some great WordPress plugins to help you monitor links on your site.  I use the ‘Broken Link Checker’ plugin and have found it to be very helpful.

7. Learn About SEO

Learn about SEO, learn about SEO and learn about SEO!!!

I can’t stress enough just how important SEO is to a website.  SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation, is vital if you want your site to become successful or not.  By learning how the search engines operate, at least to a certain degree, you can begin to understand how content is ranked in the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages).

It takes a lot of time and effort to build up a site from scratch, which is why by understanding how search engines find and rank your content, you can use your time more effectively to gain the most exposure.

8. Make Use Of Multimedia

A picture speaks a thousand words” is a term that gets branded about a lot, but that is because it is true.  Images, video, audio, etc. are much more engaging that simple text.  For this reason you should make more use of them on your blog.

Now, most blogs of course focus mainly on written content.  That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also add/include other multimedia within your posts.  A simple image at the beginning of your article can encourage people to read a post, why do you think so many sites use interesting images as thumbnails for their articles.  Search engines actually take note of different types of multimedia that you use on your site as well.

Don’t just think in terms of your blog content though.  Multimedia can and should be used throughout your entire website.  This can include;

  • Bold logo image
  • Image/video of the blog author
  • Video blogs (or Vlogs)
  • Instagram feeds
  • Podcasts

Not only does using different multimedia on your site benefit your visitors, it actually increases the ways in which people can find you.  Your videos can be uploaded to YouTube, podcasts can be uploaded to iTunes, images can be uploaded to Flickr, etc. for people to find you.  It all helps to send traffic back to your site and raise the profile of your blog.

9. Use Clear Fonts

Text will always be the bread and butter of any blog.  This means that you need to make sure that the text on your site is clearly legible for everyone to read.  This may seem incredibly obvious (and it is) yet I am still surprised by how many blogs get this wrong.  I have lost count of the number of sites that I have found that thought that using an incredibly fancy, italic, handwritten font type was a good idea.  These may work for logos, but not for an entire site.

10. Make It Easy For People To Contact You

One thing that many blog owners tend to forget about is communication.  They may focus on writing great content and getting that out to people online, but communication is a two way thing.  Your visitors need to be able to get in touch with you easily.  Not only does this make it easy for your readers to ask you questions about something that they are unsure about, but it helps to build up a community around your site.

You should have clear links to all of your social media links across your entire website as well as a link to a contact page that people can reach you through.   Make sure to properly brand your social media pages though, it all goes to creating your brand identity.

Your Turn:

I have highlighted just some of the important website design tips for you to use for your blog.

What other aspects do you like to focus on?

Which web design features do you think are the most important?

I would love to hear from you so please leave a comment below.


Written by

Catherine Holt is the founder of Blogging Tips 101. She has been an internet marketer since 2012. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, Google and Pinterest.

33 Responses to “10 Website Design Tips For A Good Blog – Beginner’s Guide”

written by Brittany Bullen On 10 September 2014 Reply


You’re so right. You really have mere seconds to make an impression, and design makes a HUGE difference to the way people perceive you.

The thing I liked most about your article was the recommendation of the broken link checker plugin. I never thought of looking for one of those but now that I know it exists it seems pretty essential! I’ll definitely check it out. Thanks!


written by Catherine Holt On 10 September 2014 Reply

A design can take a bit of time to get right, and can also be something that constantly changes, but the important thing is being aware of it and maximising the design as much as possible.

It’s definitely a good idea to get rid of those broken links Brittany. Get rid of the dead wood as they say! Have fun finding and fixing those links :-)

written by Ravi Chahar On 11 September 2014 Reply

Hi Catherine,

Design of any website is the crucial phase to pass through.
Beginners need to put efforts to make their website unique. It’s always recommended to have a design which can attract your visitors.

Now a day most of people are using internet with their mobile phones and if bloggers want to get some more traffic then it’s very important to choose a website which have nice look in the mobile phones.

There are many SEO tool to use for beginners. It’s very important to know more about SEO so that they can have choose a theme which can help in SEO as Thesis, Genesis themes have inbuilt SEO.

Thanks for providing such of great tips.

Have a rocking day.:)


written by Catherine Holt On 11 September 2014 Reply

With so much competition around it really is important to have a great design. This doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be a hugely flash design, but it has to be pleasing to the eye and easy to navigate. They are essential characteristics. If your site is difficult to navigate then you can say goodbye to a lot of your traffic. People will not be patient to try and work out what is going on….it’s either easy or it’s not.

As for navigation on mobile devices this is increasingly important as most people check sites in their lunch breaks, on the bus etc. It’s not often people are actually sat in front of a PC anymore, so having a site that caters for this is crucial.

Thanks for leaving a comment here Ravi, really appreciated :-)

written by Mandie On 11 September 2014 Reply

I’m always stunned at people who still blog with tiny fonts, or a mish-mashed design. Granted, I come from a designer background, so I may be a little biased, but in my mind your design is just as important as your content.

A clear, professional design makes all the difference. When I first visit a website, I form an instant impression of whether it’s a successful brand or an amateur blogger based on what the design is like. Maybe we’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but let’s face it – we do!

Having a confusing or amateur-ish site design is like showing up to a job interview in flip flops and a hoodie. Unless you’re Mark Zuckerberg, you’re not going to be taken seriously. Making your site as clean & user-friendly as possible is definitely key to growing & retaining followers.

Great tips, Catherine!

written by Catherine Holt On 11 September 2014 Reply

I don’t think you are the only person that forms an instant impression on a website Mandie. Your right, we do judge a book by it’s cover, we do face to face and we do online. I’ve head that you have 3 seconds to make an impression in an interview situation, the same goes for online. If your style is slap hash then why on earth is anyone going to stick around. You have to be giving a professional outlook for people to stick around and listen to what you have to say.

Thanks for sharing with us!

written by Ryan Biddulph On 11 September 2014 Reply

Hi Catherine,

The mobile friendly and speed issues are huge. I overlooked each for years. Heck I overlooked my old blog’s design for years which killed the user experience and which also made my blog not too popular. Lesson learned for Blogging from Paradise.

I paid for hosting – a bit of a premium – and have received many returns, as my site is fast and it’s up virtually all of the time.

I made sure people could view my blog from mobile devices too. As that trend improves folks will ignore your blog all together because they surf on mobile apps, and less folks do the desktop or laptop thingee these days.

Clarity has helped me a ton Catherine. Being clear on my blog’s theme and target audience helped my design immensely, as I’ve released any urge to clutter my blog with stuff that distracts my readers. If it vibes with my vision, it’s on my blog. If it doesn’t, it’s not on my blog….which is why my blog is plenty of white space, text, and travel pictures…along with a few advertisements for my eBook and affiliate venture.

Thanks so much for this smart post.

Tweeting through Triberr.


written by Catherine Holt On 11 September 2014 Reply

You have pointed out a ton of important things here Ryan. Site speed and a site actually being ‘up’ are incredibly important. Who is going to hang around for ages waiting for a page to load or waiting for a site to come back online. You need to have reliable hosting otherwise you can kiss your sites success goodbye.

Your design also needs to reflect your niche. It’s awesome that your blog is filled with travel pictures because that is exactly what you are about. You are selling what someone else is dreaming. It all fits together. The design needs to vibe with your overall niche, desire and passion. It’s also important to show a bit about who you are. Without it, the site just become another one in cyber space!

written by Don Purdum On 12 September 2014 Reply

Hi Catherine,

These are great tips that have made the complex simple to understand for anyone wanting to make an impact via their website.

One of the biggest things I see with websites are issues around navigation. I always tell my clients that their site needs to be created in such a way that I’m always two clicks away from where I want to be. I shouldn’t have to be clicking the browser back and forward button.

Make it simple! Use a breadcrumb or and image link to help me if I need it.

I talked to a guy a few months ago who said he intentionally confuses people with his navigation so they are forced to stay on his site longer. I immediately told him that was a bad idea and that his goal ought to be a great user experience without concern for his “bounce rate.”

Again, you’ve taken some complex issues and made them simple to understand.


Have a strong finish to your week!

~ Don Purdum

written by Catherine Holt On 12 September 2014 Reply

Thanks Don. It’s great to hear that you are finding my posts easy to follow…that is my sole intention here. It’s nice to have reaffirmation that it’s working :-)

Ah…making navigation easy on a site. It seems like a no brainer, but clearly it’s not. That did make me chuckle about your client making the navigation hard so that people would stay longer. I can certainly see the thought process behind this and on the surface it really does make sense. But unfortunately things don’t work that way and if people can’t navigate well they will simply leave. I even do that in a store sometimes. If I can’t find what I’m looking for and there is no-one obviously available to ask, ill just walk out. Online is no different. We need to make sure that our information is easily accessible and if we do that….people WILL hang around for longer.

Thanks for sharing here Don, have an awesome weekend :-)

written by donna merrill On 12 September 2014 Reply

Hi Ryan,

A good design is a good blog! Several months ago I had to change my entire blog. The theme was loading too slow, it wasn’t mobile compatible and the speed sucked!

When I had it re-designed, speed and functionality on mobile were my primary concerns. Phew..now it’s fixed.

While I was reading through I went over to check Google PageSpeed Tool, a good reminder..haven’t done that for a while…and I got a pretty good result 83/100. I love that tool!

Also, you have reminded me that it is time to check my “broken link checker” I’ve got so caught up in Summer fun and frolics, I didn’t pay much attention to it lately. I’ll run that through tonight. I remember when I had so many broken links it took me a weekend to fix them all. I don’t want to go through that again. So thanks again for that reminder!


written by Catherine Holt On 12 September 2014 Reply

Ah the pain of broken links Donna. Yes it can be quite a process if you are not keeping up to date with it, but it’s worth doing for the health of your site. I guess it’s like going to the doctor for a check up. We all need a but of TLC from time to time, and looking after our site should be a number 1 priority.

The same goes for the site speed. We need to make sure that the site is functioning to it’s highest capacity to ensure a great user experience. If it’s anything less, then people will simply walk away. This is exactly what we don’t want to happen!

Thanks for sharing your ideas here Donna…enjoy the rest of your week :-)

written by donna merrill On 12 September 2014 Reply

Hi Catherine,

Just came back to say OOpps….I was reading through the comments and addressed you as Ryan Sorry about that!

written by Catherine Holt On 12 September 2014 Reply

Lol…no problems Donna. Ryan gets everywhere doesn’t he…it’s no wonder people have his name on their brain!!

written by Andrew M. Warner On 12 September 2014 Reply

Hey Catherine,

I really agree with the points about being mobile friendly and the navigation.

I remember at some point last year, I was using a free WP theme and I was hell bent on not using a paid theme because I thought what’s the point in paying if they have these great ones for free. I won’t mention all the problems I had with the free themes, but the main problems I started to have was not being mobile friendly and navigation problems.

It ultimately turned out that I had to see for myself on my own phone and I saw how horrible the site looked on my mobile device and I made sure to get a paid theme right then and there. Since then, I love it and I don’t regret the decision.

Those two things are really important when choosing a website design … beyond important.

Thanks for this post. Hope you have a great weekend.

- Andrew

written by Catherine Holt On 12 September 2014 Reply

Ah yes, that is one of the big things about having a free theme isn’t it Andrew. Whilst you can obtain some awesome free themes, of which I have recently listed 10 here on the blog….there does come a time when you find yourself restricted with what you can do. For anyone serious about moving their blog forward, you really need to start looking at the premium themes available. Besides the premium themes are available in so many price ranges that there should be something to suit all needs and budgets.

The design of your website is your shop front. It’s the first thing people see and people do make an impression of you from that. You therefore need to make sure that first impression is a good one! It’s great to hear that you took the steps to improving your design and feel a lot happier for it.

Thanks for sharing with us today Andrew, enjoy the rest of your week!

written by Marc On 12 September 2014 Reply

Hi Catherine,
Design is definitely an important factor. I don’t think a blog needs to look amazing, but it needs to be easy to read/scan at the very least. I leave sites/blogs because of design related issues almost every day. Things like background colors and textures behind the text that make it hard to read, poor formatting with a lack of white and subheaders, harsh color schemes, flashing/moving objects, and really outdated designs are some of the things that lead me to leave a site.

written by Catherine Holt On 14 September 2014 Reply

Your right Marc, we don’t need to be designers, but we do need to ensure the our layout has the basic elements of a good design. Cluttered and uneasy to read blogs are a huge turn off. Likewise, if you can’t navigate the content, this will frustrate readers. Whether you have a skill at design or not, the basic principles can always easily be applied.

Thanks for sharing your ideas here :-)

[…] Website design elements dictate whether a blog is good or not. There are certain features to follow to ensure your site is competing at the highest level.  […]

written by Kevin Duncan On 13 September 2014 Reply

Hi Catherine,

Nice tips! The “mobile friendly” one is going to be bigger and bigger as time goes on. In a few years, it’s where MOST of our readers will be reading us. We have to be ready!

Thanks again for featuring me on your wonderful blog, Catherine. It was a lot of fun!

- Kevin

written by Catherine Holt On 14 September 2014 Reply

We certainly have to plan for the future Kevin….we need to roll with the times. If you fail to make your blog user friendly for mobile navigation now, then you will regret it in the future.

It was great to recently have you featured on the blog too Kevin :-)

written by Mi Muba On 13 September 2014 Reply

Hi Catherine

I think who knows better than you what should be an ideal design of a website. Design of your blog is ample proof of this fact.

All the ten tips you mentioned here are worth following and overlooking any of them while creating a site may lower the real value of your website.

Quite recently it was talk of the town one should not much care about the design and just focus to produce wonderful contents. It is human nature that people follow a herd instinct so much so they forget the minimum requirement of an activity. This really happens to design part of online business.

But once multiple display options were introduced including iphone,ipad, laptop and LCD then again people get worry how to adjust their display for all sizes. Here they jump into making their design responsive.

Secondly blogs and multiniche sites created the need of very effective navigation and once again the significance of site design got back to its real worth.

Now after lot of changes in Google criteria rank a site, the need of SEO in site template was much felt and people now talk about which design is best in terms of SEO also.

So the basic ingredients of a site do include an awesome design also and it will remain on top of the priorities.

Thanks a lot for sharing this wonderful resource post.

written by Kerry Russell On 13 September 2014 Reply

Hi Catherine.

Totally agree that first impressions count!

It really annoys me when I hear marketers saying the only thing that matters is your content. So NOT true.

Like you say, a new visitor decides if they’re going to stick around within seconds of landing on a site, and if the design isn’t created to convert – and it looks unprofessional, they’ll be gone for good!

I’ve always considered my site to be a fast loader, but after analysing it using the tool you recommended, Google says it needs improving – so I guess that’s on my to do list. LOL

Whenever I create sites for clients, I always work on the mobile version first because I know just how important it is due to the increase of mobile users…

But I’m confused, according to Google Analytics only a tiny percent of my readers access The Strategic Blogger via a mobile device. Maybe I’m reading my stats wrong.

How about you? Do a large majority of your readers use mobile or tablet devices?

I’ll give tip 4 a miss because I’ve never really been a big fan of flash anyway. Can’t remember that last time I saw a site that used it. Thankfully.

Personally, there’s three design elements I focus on primarily when creating sites…

#1) Clear navigation
#2) Readable font
#3) Site layout (including optin placements)

Loved the tips Catherine. :) Definitely going to check out the broken link checker. Thanks for the recommendation.

Enjoy your weekend!

[…] 10 Website Design Tips for a Good Blog – Beginner’s Guide […]

written by Areesha Noor On 15 September 2014 Reply

Yeah, You are right, First impression is last impression. And this is the thing that impact on your visitor.
In SEO friendly theme. every thing is include like Mobile friendly, good design, Easy navigation etc.
and One thing more to say. Simplicity is best policy.

written by Catherine Holt On 15 September 2014 Reply

Simplicity is certainly the best Areesha. If in doubt, go simple and tweak from there. The “less is more” saying is there for good reason! Sometimes bloggers make the mistake of trying to include everything and as a result end up cluttering their site. This gives such a bad first impression, when really they were just trying to do the right thing. Think white space and readers will appreciate it!

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts :-)

written by Sanjay Sajeev On 18 September 2014 Reply

Hi Catherine. As a beginner in blogging, i learned a lot from this. Before reading this, i didn’t give too much importance to my site’s appearance. But after reading your very first point, i realized site’s look is very important for it’s success.

written by Catherine Holt On 18 September 2014 Reply

That’s awesome Sanjay. The way a site looks is certainly important. Of course it is not the be all and end all of a blog’s success, but it is the first impression that you are going to give your readers, and as such it could make or break what happens after that visit. It is definitely worth giving it some thought!

I appreciate you sharing your thoughts here :-)

written by Steven J Wilson On 20 September 2014 Reply

Hey Catherine,

I totally agree with all of your tips!

I have to say that the Broken Link Checker plugin has been a huge help to me. I don’t get them that often but every now again it seems like they come in waves!

I am a fan of a clean non intrusive blog. If I go to a blog ads are jumping out at me and all I see is promotional this and that, I get turned off.

The less distracting the page the better to me. Blogging Tips 101 is an excellent example of a clean blog :)

I enjoyed the post Catherine. I hope all is well!

written by Catherine Holt On 21 September 2014 Reply

Thanks Steven, I’m glad you like the look of this blog. My aim is to keep it clutter free so the important things stand out :-)

It can be difficult sometimes working out what are the best things to include. Like you say, a blog that is clutter and distracting can be a real turn off. If it looks messy, it won’t encourage people to hang around.

Your blog is another awesome example of a streamlined clean looking site :-)

written by Best Website Design Services On 19 November 2014 Reply

Thanks for this wonderful blog. I agree with you Catherine, that the design of the website should be done in such a way that the first impression can make a long lasting impression on the mind of the audience before they blink their eyes. For this, hiring a company that provides efficient and best website design services is very essential. Can you kindly recommend what are the alternative to Flash that will work on mobile devices, making the website a responsive one. What are ‘broken links’ all about.

written by Tejwinder On 11 December 2014 Reply

Now this is really amazing, how can you people manage to get stuff like this? Man, this is really worth reading and I am going to bookmark your blog for this. Keep updating us.

written by Catherine Holt On 12 December 2014 Reply

Thanks Tejwinder, it’s great to hear that you you found this useful :-)

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