I thought long and hard about what to share with you in this post, my first on the Allume blog. I’ve been part of the Allume community since the first year of Relevant, when some incredible blogging friends I’d never even met in real life surprised me with a ticket and hotel room for a conference I had only dreamed of attending.
That seems like ages ago. And now I’m on the schedule to write something techy or designy to help you become a better blogger. Only I’m struggling to find the right place to start.
Because at the end of the day, design isn’t the most important thing.
I know you’ve heard that before … but you may not have expected to hear it from me. Phil and I have built a business around quality design and solidly developed sites. So you know it matters to me. I want the whole internet to be beautiful—I truly do. But you can spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on your blog and still fall incredibly short. Because really, it’s the foundation of things that’s the most important, and I’m not talking about what blogging platform you use.
Most of us in the Allume community spend a lot of time at this online, blogging, social media thing. It’s easy to see the stream flowing by and jump in with both feet. Sometimes we don’t even know where we want it to take us. Other times, we know where we want to go but get a little lost along the way. It can get overwhelming and hectic and loud. Maybe you feel it, too. Or maybe you’re swimming so hard and fast you haven’t even noticed.
Can you relate?
If you do, just pause with me for a minute. Whether you’ve been blogging for a 5 minutes or 5 years, it’s so worth it to take some time to talk to the Lord about your blog. Ask Him for His perspective. He’s such a good Father, and if we ask for wisdom, He will give it (James 1:5). Maybe the answers will confirm what you’re already doing, or maybe they will be a surprise that requires you to make a change. Either way, find peace in knowing why you’re spending the time and effort you do in building your blog. Don’t be afraid to step out of the stream for a season if you need to get clarity. It’s a lot easier to find your place in that fast-flowing stream when you know who you are and what you’re doing there.
And the good news is that having clear direction and purpose is an important first step when you’re considering what you want your blog to look like. Design tells a story, and you need to know what the story is to implement an the right look and feel on your site. This is true whether you’re designing your own site or hiring someone else to do so.
Here are some questions to consider:
- Can you clearly communicate your blog’s purpose?
- Does the look and feel of your site fit with this purpose?
- Does your writing clearly communicate the message?
- Does your site feel clean and fresh, or is it so cluttered that your content doesn’t have room to shine?
- When a person visits your site for the first time, what is their initial impression? (You’ll need to ask someone else to answer this one!)
If the answers feel discouraging, start with some small, doable steps. Don’t feel the pressure to fix everything at once. We’re all in the process of learning as we navigate this blogging journey.
A solid design and well laid out site go a long way when it comes to attracting and keeping readers. We all want our blogs to function well and be easy to navigate. These are all things to work on improving. But most importantly don’t forget to have clear understanding of your purpose, lay a solid foundation, and build quality content that communicates your message, because a blog design really is only skin deep.