Part of what makes a good blog stand out regardless of its content is how it looks to the person reading it. In our pretty hectic world, your readers are click happy information seekers and it can be difficult to get someone to stop with the clicking and really take notice of what you’re writing.
Take a moment to think about what grabs your attention when you’re browsing the net. It could be a catchy headline, perhaps it’s an eye-popping quote that’s styled to really standout. In many cases it will be the design of the site you’re browsing through; how well it flows, how easy it is to navigate and the complementary colour scheme that draws it all together.
Your blog design will leave an impression
In the same way that other websites influence how you feel about a particular site, so too will yours.
An aesthetically appealing blog with a great look and feel will leave a lasting impression on people visiting your content. On the other hand, if you offer up a website full of confusing fonts, clashing colours and poor graphics, you run the risk of making people think that you don’t really care about their user experience, which I’m sure you agree isn’t the case.
10 blog design resources that won’t cost a thing
Thankfully I’m a total nerd when it comes to messing about with shiny things and that includes creating awesome graphics for peoples blogs. Over the last couple of years I’ve found some great places that will help give your blog a complete makeover, without costing the Earth and today I’m sharing them with you.
1. Creative Market
You might be thinking I’m off my rocker, Creative Market isn’t a free resource – yet I beg to differ! Every week this website gives away 3 free design resources to anyone who wants them. These can range from flat website icons, tileable patterns and photoshop filters, to free WordPress themes, stock photos and design elements. Even better, if you head on over to their Facebook Page you can access a further 3 resources exclusive to Creative Market’s Facebook audience.
Seriously you should see the collection I’ve amassed over the last couple years, just from the freebies these guys give away. What’s there to lose?
Picmonkey has to be one of my favourite places to quickly create or edit a blog graphic. It has all of the basic image editing features such as cropping, resizing, filters and overlays, as well as templates, collages and some pretty cool fonts. There’s a free version for all of the basics, or for a teeny tiny fee per month you can unlock the Royale features which offer many more options for customising and beautifying your images. For all of my basic, day-to-day editing, this place is my first stop.
If I’m looking to create a blog graphic that’s a little more detailed and involved, Canva is the next place I turn to. I particularly love Canva for their pre-built templates and layouts and they’re always adding many more. Some of these templates include Twitter, Facebook and Google+ covers, the optimal Pinterest pin and A4 documents to name a few.
The possibilities with Canva are only really limited by your own imagination. There are heaps of custom fonts, frames, overlays, textures, graphics and combinations that I can’t possibly list them all. The majority of them, however, are completely free and are well worth playing with.
Iconfinder is a great place to head to if you’re looking for just the right icon for your website. It searches thousands of both free and premium resources and allows you to download your icon in a range of sizes and formats. I tend to use this place when making my own social icons but they could be used for so much more than that if you put your creative hat on.
Although I don’t tend to use Dribble to share what I’m working on personally, I do use it to browse the freebies its users tend to hand out. As a community of designers from a wide variety of professions, I find it gives me plenty of inspiration when I’m a little lacking.
Finding the freebies people are giving away is easy, simply search for the tag ‘free’ or ‘freebie’ and Dribbble will bring up the results you need. There are some real gems to be found on there!
6. Google Fonts
You’ll no doubt come across a font every now and then that really gets your attention, only to find it’s a special font that you need to purchase to use. Well, fret not because usually, Google Fonts has a similar if not identical version that’s completely free to use.
The thing I love most about Google Fonts is that you can really make a statement, purely by picking the right typography. You can also download the fonts to use with your image editors and even use a plugin like WP Google Fonts to implement them on your own website.
It really doesn’t take much more at times, than a simple change in font to completely overhaul your website’s readability.
7. IM Free
Now I have to point out that it’s always really important that you check the licence of any design resource you use online, something that’s even more important with free resources. The last thing you want is disgruntled designers battering down your inbox because you’ve pinched a piece of their content without asking.
The good news is that imcreator.com has a free section on their website, devoted to resources like stock photography, templates and icons that are all completely free. Even better is they’re able to be used for commercial use, just be sure to link back to the appropriate person where required.
If you’re feeling adventurous and fancy taking on your blog design full throttle, Codecademy is an excellent resource for all things code. With this website you can learn to code interactively for free, starting from the very basics right up to the more challenging stuff.
In a similar vein, CSS-Tricks has a dedicated section for WordPress users, with code snippets to get your blog looking the way you want it. There are simple CSS tricks such as getting triangular bullet list points, or more involved snippets such as customizing the login page. Just copy the code and away you go.
10. Free Refe Mobile Photos
Lastly, aside from the look and feel of your blog, a crucial element to any blog post is a great accompanying picture that illustrates what you’re writing about.
If you’re not confident in your design abilities enough to create your own imagery, you can visit a site like Free Refe Mobile Photos who regularly upload high resolution, royalty-free images for anyone to use, for whatever reason – no attribute linking required.
Whatever you plan on doing to your website or blog, I hope that these design resources will give you a great head-start into getting your blog just the way you want it.