We can all use a little love on our own blogs for those pages that we just don't think about after they are posted. I know you know what I'm talking about.
DesignI'm sure you have read this before, but your blog design is the first thing readers see when they find your blog. You want something appealing, yet fairly minimal. Think about the reader if you are designing your own blog design. You don't want a super busy background if it will make your content difficult to read. If you hire a designer (like ME #ShamelessPlug) make sure to give them a clear direction as to how you want your blog to look.
FontsPick easy to read fonts. I know the curly swirly embellishments can sometimes be fun, but you still want your readers to be able to actually read things. This goes for your Banner/Header, post and gadget titles, signatures, and the fonts you use on your images. You can still let your personality shine and use a readable font.
ColorsGet creative! But choose 1-3 MAIN colors you want to use in your overall design. Having a cohesive and consistent color pallet really makes your blog flow better. When styling your buttons and other pages you'll want to incorporate your colors in some form or fashion.
SidebarOh that bar (or bars) that we all have. Did you know you probably need to update how things are layed out on your sidebar? It's true! Think about your sidebar as real estate. You want the highest things at the top (like your picture, social media icons, categories) and the lower things (like your archive list, button, and affiliates) at the bottom. Also be very intentional about what things you put on your sidebar. Don't just put things there to put them there. Make sure they add value to your blog.
Navigation Bars vs. Category ButtonsThis is one of the easiest ways to simplify, but still have your favorite topics reachable. Your Navigation bar should only contain the most important pages of your blog: Home, About, Sponsor, Contact. These are must haves! If you have an Etsy Shop or do freelance work like I do, putting a link to that site is also a great idea for your Navigation bar. If you have a niche or a consistent topic you blog about (ex: Kendra and Sarah blog about their diseases), it might have a place on your Navigation bar, but everything else should be a Category Button on your sidebar.
Category Sidebar ButtonsIf you have a category that won't fit well on your Navigation bar (like mentioned above), you can put it on your sidebar. The sidebar buttons are important because they help readers find content that they might have missed. If you make these yourself - like I did - make sure that you use colors similar to your blog colors. You don't have to list all of your categories here either. Be smart about what you include on your sidebar.
About PageYou need one. Your readers need a place to catch a snippet of what you and your blog are all about. Include a picture or two, and some links to your story and favorite posts, but don't go crazy! You also want to add extra grab buttons and your social media icons somewhere on that page.
The Search BarYou need this. It doesn't matter if it is on your Navigation bar or on your sidebar, but you need one. If this is on your sidebar, make sure that it is high up - remember that high real estate we talked about above? The search bar is pretty darn high real estate. It doesn't have to be the first thing - and it shouldn't be - but it needs to be high enough so readers don't have to go searching for it.
Sponsor PageIf you offer sponsorships, you have a sponsor page and this page is just as important as your About page. From a design aspect, you want this page to be eye catching, yet informative proving that you are the blogger that brands and other bloggers want to work with.
DisclosureI have a little section on my sidebar dedicated to Disclosure. You could also have a complete page dedicated to it. This basically tells someone that you have a for-profit blog and that you might include affiliate links in posts. It also states that the content on my blog is my own unless otherwise stated. I think these statements are important because they say very straight-forwardly what your intentions are with your blog. You are for-profit and you could use affiliate links.
Still lost?? Kristyn offers Complete Blog Consultations and can help you make some of those tough decisions. Sometimes a second pair of eyes on your blog can make all the difference. Click HERE to see more details. ( I totally did this, and she helped me so, so much. Definitely worth it!)