We got an email from a good friend of ours today about WordPress blog design.
After writing up my response, I decided that it just might help you too!
I want to do a blog redesign and since you’re my tech-iest friends, I was wondering if you had any recommendations?
Interesting timing… We’re about to roll out a complete redesign of all of our sites.
Blog Success Journal is the first one to go live…
Here’s what AskDanAndJennifer will look like in the next few weeks: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/id1eiejruikk1ul/aFXFy0jX3J/ask_v1.png
The focus was a cleaner, less busy design that sucks visitors in…
Also, because we have several sites, we wanted a design that could easily be updated across all of the sites – i.e. we wanted to be able to make one change to ad a new ad unit to all the sites, or to add a widget to the sidebar of all sites. As part of this roll-out, we’re also moving to WordPress Multisite (don’t recommend this unless you REALLY need it).
What Other Blogs Should I Look At And Emulate?
There are several sites that we looked at when going with the new design.
If you look at these sites, you’ll see certain similarities in the way the header, content, and footer are designed.
Most of all, they are clean, inviting and easy to navigate.
What Are Some Cool Blog Themes?
I have always and still do love Brian Gardner’s stuff – StudioPress WordPress Themes
Our previous design was a deep customization of their Magazine theme.
The new design is a totally custom design but all built on the new Genesis framework – it has literally cut our site load time in half!
What Are Some Useful WordPress Plugins?
The one thing I’m really loving at the moment is Scribe SEO – its the only tool that let’s you SEO your post before you publish it.
Also, we’re in the process of moving ALL of our forms over to Gravity Forms – what forms should be… Totally customizable and configurable contact forms and way more…
What I’m hating are the FaceBook widgets – they take FOREVER to load and really slow down your page load time.
What Every Blog MUST Be Doing Right Now
Every blog needs to put out good quality content – Google is really cracking down on landing pages and anything spammy.
Blog Success Journal was recently penalized (Our Google Ad Words account was turned off because we were linking to a site that they flagged as spammy – we thought it was a good site!)
So having said that, be careful who you link out to and never ever sell text links.
I want my new blog to stay ahead of the curve, not fall hopelessly behind, and if you had any resources to get me and my team up to speed, I’d be eternally grateful.
That’s my brain dump for now… Hope it helps.