7 Essential Design Elements for Great Business Blogs

When people hear the word design, they sometimes think only of making something look good, using colors and graphics to add interest. But on the web, and especially on a blog, design has a purpose: to grab readers when they arrive, make it easy for them to get what they want, and create trust through a consistent and professional look.

A well-designed business blog:

  1. Uses visual interest to make posts easy to read
  2. Brands your business in a consistent way
  3. Places useful information in places where it is easy to find
  4. Isn’t cluttered with things that aren’t helping you promote your business
  5. Makes it easy for readers to do what you want them to do


Good blog design is practical

While there are many elements that go into designing a blog that grabs attention and engages readers, here are seven elements that must be integrated at the outset. You can develop the visual look and feel over time, but start here to begin building relationships, trust and credibility:

  1. Graphic header with name of blog, tag line and author name
  2. Email subscribe form
  3. About page with photo
  4. Use a variety of media: text, video, audio
  5. Plenty of white space to make it easy to read
  6. Links to share your content
  7. Links for readers to connect on your social networking sites

To illustrate each of these points, I’ve made a short video showing blogs that incorporate these elements.

If you would like to study these blogs in more depth, here are the links:

What are the essential design elements you think belong in a business blog? Please share your ideas in the comments and link to blogs that illustrate best practices.

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About the Author, Denise Wakeman

Denise Wakeman is an Online Marketing Advisor and Founder of The Blog Squad. You can learn more about business blogging on Build a Better Blog. Other posts by »




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  • KacyMaxwell

    Simple post, but I completely agree….all the high-tech & invasive things people put on blogs today is for the most part, unnecessary.

    Kacy
    http://macswellhouse.com

  • May

    Thanks for the reminder of what we need to have in our business blogs. However, I disagree with some of the recommendations. A couple of them are so busy that I couldn’t stick around long enough to explore their content and site.

  • http://NaomiTrower.com Naomi Trower

    Great video of blog design examples Denise! One of the features that my blog design didn’t have that I created on my own is a Most Popular Post Section. I created an area on my sidebar to show my Most Popular Posts right underneath my most recent posts. This helps my reader from digging or having to do a search. Best change that I’ve made recently. :)

  • http://brasstackthinking.com Amber Naslund

    Hi Denise – Thanks so much for featuring my blog in your video! :) I’m a big fan of clean, simple, and easy to navigate, and as I work to redesign and relaunch my blog this spring, I’m going to continue to work toward that. Appreciate the shoutout.

    Best,
    Amber

  • web501

    Thank you Denise. From a design perspective, I think Social Media Examiner trumps all of the links above. Your site is incredibly usable, accessible and clean. As I begin the hard work of getting our business blog off the ground, I’ll be coming back here for inspiration.

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Thanks so much for your positive feedback on our site design.

  • http://www.transformyoursocialnetworth.com CoachLaura

    Great post Denise and perfect timing as I’m putting together my blog site now. Learning how to integrate all your steps into the blog is exciting. I took on Thesis theme for wordpress. Wow is it powerful. Next is video!

  • http://www.bigbrandsystem.com/ Pamela Wilson

    Denise, this is great information! So glad you mentioned white space, too. I have a pet peeve about that, actually (and my current blog post addresses it).

    I have designed print material for 23 years, and adding white space in print sometimes means adding pages and cost to produce your piece.

    But on the web, adding white space doesn’t add to your cost. Adding pages to your web site is relatively cost-free. It’s important to put the essential information “above the fold” (within the screen area), but outside of that, surrounding information with white space so that it can be easily absorbed is always a good idea.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tracy-Crane/100000046724722 Tracy Crane

    What great timing for this post..just as we’re working on building our company blog! Thanks for all the great info and tips, we’ll be sure to incorporate them in our design!

  • http://www.denisewakeman.com DeniseWakeman

    I agree, Social Media Examiner is a great blog. Wanted to show some other examples as well. Blog on!

  • http://www.denisewakeman.com DeniseWakeman

    Everyone has different criteria for what they like in blog design. It’s totally subjective. My goal was to show different elements that are important to include on one’s blog. With tens of millions of blogs, there are plenty of examples of good, bad and ugly! It’s important to know what you like and go with that. And, asking your readers what works for them is a good idea since sometimes we can get too close to our stuff and lose perspective about what’s working and what’s not.

  • http://www.denisewakeman.com DeniseWakeman

    Thanks for reinforcing the notion of using plenty of white space. Definitely makes content easier to read and absorb.

  • http://www.denisewakeman.com DeniseWakeman

    Great idea to add a “popular post” list. Whenever you can help your reader easily find what they’re looking for, you establish your blog as being useful and worth returning to. Thanks, Naomi.

  • http://www.thesocialmediahandyman.com Paul Chaney

    Thanks for including my blog as an example Denise. Watching the video now and appreciate the points you’re making. Good tutorial that anyone can use.

  • http://brite-talk.com Andrea DeBell – britetalk

    Great info. I’m just now creating my blog and even though it’s not a business blog per say, all your tips apply. Thanks!

  • http://www.InfoMattersResource.com/ Barb

    I don’t have a blog yet, but when I do, this will be very helpful… thanks, Denise. (And kudos, Michael, on your helpful SocialMedia Examiner site.) Question (and I know this is contrary to the whole online concept, but…): why don’t blogs have an easy way to print a particular blog post? Or am I just missing it? I seem to forever be cutting and pasting into a word processor.

  • http://www.blurbpoint.com/ forum link building service

    Great post again. The design of your site is the first impression of your product or service. I’ll keep all this point in mind while developing the site.

  • Michael French

    Agreed. Simple, clear layout that let users find what they need is key. But elements of personality are also important. Social Media Messenger does a great job of creating a unique look while remaining easy to navigate.

    How about ads? I find ads on blogs distracting and offer no value to the reader. Particularly annoying are in-text ads. Unless your blog is intended as a direct money-maker, leave them off. In many cases the income from ads isn’t enough to warrant the clutter and distraction to readers.

  • http://www.themarketingmindset.com/ Kathleen Gage

    Excellent information as always Denise. The video with all the examples is very, very helpful. You show by actual example the points you are making. A must watch for visitors to this blog.

  • michaleen

    Great information – simple and clean and easy to navigate! It’s also important to know how and when to engage users:
    http://bit.ly/9jRWhA

  • http://hansenhousecommunication.com Glenn Hansen

    Interesting advice, but I think you need to take this advice about this “business” blog. Your business blog – especially this one – should have a look that fits its audience. My pre-teen daughter just walked by as I was writing this, and thought I was looking at a Disney Channel site, or Dora the Explorer. Your cartoon-like graphics not only clutter the page, but they simply detract from otherwise professional information. I’m surprised everytime I come here.

  • http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/ Michael A. Stelzner

    Glen, what have you got against Dora! :)

    I think part of the reason we are ranked the #1 small business blog on the planet (by Technorati) is because we have a very unique and unforgettable look.

    While I value your opinion, there are hundreds of others who have emailed and commented explaining they absolutely love our design.

  • http://www.themarketingmindset.com/ Kathleen Gage

    I LOVE the design. The beauty of the Internet is it does allow for creative design while still maintaining a very high level of professionalism. The reason IM appeals to many of us is we got downright tired of the stuffy corporate look.

    It also allows us to lighten up and not take ourselves so darned serious.

  • http://nicholekelly.com/ Nichole_Kelly

    I think more blogs need to include a clear call to action. This goes beyond the standard social follow and subscribe links, but specifically a call to action that converts them into a warm lead. Compendium.com and Hubspot.com both do this exceptionally well.

  • Alex

    I find it slightly ironic that a post about designing a business blog immediately shows a popup flash window over the middle and a persistent banner at the bottom. That doesn’t shout professional to me. I can’t believe that you’re rated highly because of your look – it has to be about the content.

  • lucy52

    I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

    Lucy

    http://businesseshome.net

  • http://www.businessservicessupport.com/ Starting A Business

    Success is one step forward to failure… So thanks to be sharing business terms with us…

  • http://brainstorm.com.ua Petya Design

    Yeah agree, succesfull modules also important

  • m2mrms

    I completely agree….all the high-tech & invasive things people put on blogs today is for the most part, unnecessary.

  • http://www.icprint.com.au Printing services

    Great tips on designing a blog

  • Englishteachermelanie

    Hello! Hopefully you still check the comments even though this post is over a year old. The video is no longer available (I get a message that says “The creator of this domain has not given you permission to embed it on this domain.” Also, the link to Mari Smith’s ‘Why Facebook’ website just goes straight to Facebook.com.  Otherwise, this was an interesting post!

  • http://cindyking.biz/ Cindy King

    Thanks for the heads up Melanie!  We’re looking into it now.

  • http://cindyking.biz/ Cindy King

    Thanks for the heads up Melanie!  We’re looking into it now.

  • Pingback: 26 Essentials for Blogging Success, What You Need to Know | Social Media Examiner()

  • http://www.sjfpc.com/home.html Steven J Fromm & Associates

    Very nice post with some good checklist items and great examples.  Thanks so much.









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