Blog Themes: Love That Design

If you’ve been by Writer’s Round-About recently (drop by if you’re in a feed reader) you might have noticed I’ve done a little tweaking here and there. Adding the header and buttons has been on my to-do list since I launched the new design. What do you think of the additions? I don’t know if I’ll ever be 100% happy but I’d love to hear your feedback, ideas, and suggestions!

Speaking of designing beautiful blogs I wanted to give a little link love to blogs who have designs I adore! Feel free to share your own blog links in the comments if you want to show off your blog theme. Which blog themes do you love the most?

Momma Helpers with Arthemia

Hope Wilbank’s site, Momma Helpers looks fabulous in Arthemia. The original theme is sharp, sassy, professional and actually rather drab and dark. I use elements of this theme at Writer’s Round-About but Hope jazzed the theme with bright ‘Mommy’ colors (pink and chocolate). Momma Helpers has a darling header that creates an inviting atmosphere perfect for her target audience and warm images to highlight posts.

To really bliss this site I’d love to see, MORE CONTENT! From a design perspective it would be great to see the Entrecard button moved below “Our Faves”. The uneven layout of that widget amongst the “Sponsors” looks disorganized. One of the images doesn’t appear to load correctly any longer so fixing this ‘bug’ is a must. Giving the “For Mom” section uniform width/height that ensures the “Featured” and “For Mom” sections are always the same size would tidy that section of the site.

Top Ten Blog Tips with Aeros

Ben Barden’s latest blog, “Top Ten Blog Tips” has a professional, tech edge based on the Aeros Theme. There are so many elements in this theme I love that I’ve actually considered adopting a few of them. The rounded edges give the blog a smoother, friendlier look that softens the dark color scheme. The date and comment count are little tabs to the left which is very clever from a design perspective. It increases the white space to the left margin and puts valuable information where it is unobtrusive but catchy.

I have two peeves about Ben’s design however, the first is that he tends to use large images at the beginning of his posts. Images in posts is fantastic! I love them but I also prefer to see the meat of a blog post first. Using slightly smaller images aligned to the side of the opening paragraphs gives a balance that is more aesthetically pleasing and makes better use of layout. I also feel the sidebar is ‘messy’. Sidebars often grow and shape with time so the youth of this blog puts this element at a disadvantage.

Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits

I’m not sure if Zen Habits is a completely unique theme or if it is based on something more universal but it looks empowering while maintaining a relaxed, welcoming balance. Leo knows how to highlight his posts with images and the site has a cool blend of colors that come together beautifully. The two things I love most about this theme is the simple appeal above the fold and the “Popular Posts by category” in the footer.

However, while I love the uniform feel of the font I can’t help but have a growing sensation of being boxed in by it. I also find his main content block is a little wider than my dyslexia would like to read and while the top half of his sidebar looks fantastic the bottom half is a cluster of images in a large variety of sizes with no balance or aesthetics.

Freelance Parent by Sawtooth

A final site to mention is, Freelance Parent. This site is classy and happening. A detailed header gets you where you need to go with well placed marketing elements such as the RSS links and free Internet Business Guide. The content is kept in a manageable segment with a surprisingly large sidebar packed with goodies.

The downside of all this content is that viewed as a whole the site looks daunting and busy. Even above the fold there is so much going on that it is kind of scary and I’m sure there are newcomers who run a mile. The sidebar tries to do too much. In this case a little less would do so much more. Let readers dig deep rather than trying to cram so much information on the first page.

Now It’s Your Turn!

Are there any blogs whose design thrill you? Are there sites you go to just for the buzz or glow of looking upon them? Do you think your own blog’s design rocks or wonder how to improve your design?

You are welcome to share your own favorite blogs in the comments (links please!). What do you love and hate about their designs? What do you love and hate about the themes of these four sites I’ve introduced? What do you love and hate about Writer’s Round-About’s current theme?

8 thoughts on “Blog Themes: Love That Design

  1. @ Joe: My pleasure, Joe! It really is a very nice theme. Kudos on the design. :-)

    @ Michele: *glows* Thank you so much, Michele. I’m always uncertain when I make changes to the site. One can never really tell if it’s a step forward or backward. I love how Writing The Cyber Highway has transformed over the year too.

    Do either of you have a blog design to share?

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