Study Other Blogs for Design Ideas

By Melissa Culbertson

When you look at other blogs with an eye for design and navigation, you might be surprised by all the inspiration you gain. A single design element on someone’s blog could give you an idea for a blog header. Or someone’s main blog color may be the perfect shade to sprinkle through your design in much smaller doses.

Surveying the blogging landscape also helps you spot trends in blog design or discover new plug-ins or widgets you may want to use.

Look at blogs focused on topics completely different from yours. Doing so can give you a fresh design perspective.

Imitation isn’t the same as inspiration. If someone would look at your design and think (or say), “That looks just like so-and-so’s blog!”, then someone might say you copied a design. The more blogs that inspire you, the less your blog will look like someone else’s.

Know what to look for in blog design

Surfing from blog to blog, looking at nice designs, is fun, but keep your jaunts productive, too. Keep a short list of things to look for on another person’s blog. Then take notes about anything you like about someone’s blog design. You can also keep track of things that inspire you by using some mood board ideas.

To kick-start your list, here are some things you can look at:

  • Overall branding: Look at how the blog name, tagline, blog colors, fonts, and other design elements tie in to one another. How many fonts and colors are used? How did the blogger or designer create hierarchy with them?

  • General layout: Are two columns or three used? Note any special galleries or rotating banners and the number of blog posts featured on the home page.

  • Sidebars: See what key content is placed on the sidebar. Can you easily discern a hierarchy that signals to you what is most important?

  • Advertising: Is the advertising overbearing to you as a blog visitor? Is advertising shown in unusual places? How many potential advertisers are allowed? Is there a special blog page created just for advertisers?

  • Navigation: How is top content displayed? What about a search box? Where are categories listed?

  • Interaction: Do readers leave lots of comments and share their posts on social media platforms? If so, look at how the blog’s commenting system and social sharing buttons function.

  • Footer: If the blog has a footer, what things are included? How does the footer design fit into the rest of the blog design?

Just because a certain design element works on one blog doesn’t mean that it will work for you. Use other sites for inspiration but stay true to your own style and personality.

Look outside your niche

By looking within just your own niche, you may inadvertently box yourself into a certain way of thinking. You might find yourself including something in your design because everyone else does, when it might not be the right choice for your blog. Looking outside your niche can help you bring a fresh approach to your own niche.

Look at blogs outside your niche and even corporate websites or company blogs.

However, in addition to looking at things that all blogs have (blog colors, a navigation menu, and so on), consider how you can apply part of a blog’s design or navigation to your own blog.

For example, if you write about travel, perhaps you notice how food bloggers often take close-up shots of their food. Maybe you get the idea to incorporate a close-up travel shot into your blog header versus a typical scenic landscape. Check out the many possibilities to take a fresh twist on your blog design!