As part of the DYOB blog tour, I’m giving out some of my super top secret designer knowledge to help women on a budget beautify their blogs!
What is the DYOB Blog Tour?
My good friend Marianne of Design Your Own Blog got 14 women together to deliver 14 design tips for bloggers on a budget- because designers (including me) are expensive! Let me be real for a second, when I was just starting out, I would have never been able to afford myself. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a beautiful blog. With a little elbow grease and DIY spirit, you can DYOB! (Design Your Own Blog- clever right?)
Who is Marianne of Design Your Own Blog.com?
Marianne has been helping women to create lives they love by giving them confidence when it comes to their own blog designs. So many women know they want more out of life. They are smart, creative and hard workers. But too many think that in order to start a business, you need to spend a lot of money. This is just not true. It’s totally possible to build a business, large or small, by bootstrapping from the start. Marianne’s goal is to provide economical DIY ways for them to get started and help them feel better about who they are and what they have to offer. I highly recommend checking out her blog, and the whole line up for the DYOB Blog tour can be found here, so don’t miss a single tip!
So today I’m going to be talking about minimalism. One of my favorite trends. Although, can you really call it a trend? Minimalism is classic! Sometimes the line between minimalism and boring can be blurred. If you’re looking for a minimal look, but don’t know where to start, this is one designer’s opinion on how to do minimalism right when it comes to your blog.
1. First: Start With the Logo
When I’m designing a logo for a client, I always try to think of the simplest way to arrange their information/graphics in the way that is easy to read, and easy on the eyes. In my opinion, simple logos are the best logos. And I think a lot of designers will agree with me here when I say simple is not boring! If you’re DIY’ing your logo and going for a minimalist look, here area few of my favorite techniques that I use when I design logos for clients:
- If you want to keep the color palette neutral, try a dark gray instead of black. In my opinion, it looks less harsh against a white background. A couple of my favorite dark grays that I use in my designs are: #444343 and #3b3b3b
- Type your text on a circle to add visual interest- Think outside of the box, aka, in a circle! I love the look of circular badge logos! Just make sure to choose a font that is easy to read- as everything gets harder to read in a circle.
- Monogram it! One of the easiest and most effective ways to DIY your logo is to monogram it! Tip: Choose a beautiful font that makes your monogram stand out, and is legible.
2. Next: Think About Your Fonts: Web & Logo
First off, you want your web fonts to coordinate with your logo. I use google fonts for all of my websites, because they are the easiest to use, and they have a ton of attractive options.
Readability first, design second: As a designer, I’m always tempted to use a font because it is pretty. But as a WEB designer, I have to take a step back and remember that people actually have to read those fonts, and since people have really short attention spans, those fonts have to be really easy to read. Also, make sure your font size in your content is at least 16px for those of us who read your blog on our macbook 🙂
My favorite go-to fonts for the text of a blog or website are:
- Lato (the font I use for the text of this blog)
- Open Sans
- PT Sans
My favorite fonts for headers:
- Oswald (Blocky & Bold)
- Dancing Script (Pretty script, feminine, easy to read)
- Open Sans Bold (Thick and bold)
- Droid Serif (The font used for the headings on this blog)
*You can get away with more with your heading fonts, so that’s where I like to get creative. I like to think about contrast. If I’m using a thin sans-serif font, that pairs with a thick blocky font or a serif font. If I’m going for more of a feminine look, I might even throw in a scripty font for headings. It all depends on what you’re going for, but always think about readability first.
Play around with different options, and see which font pairing best translates into the overall look you are going for. A good rule of thumb is stick to no more than 3 fonts. (Logo, heading, content).
3. Think about your layout & Color Palette
When I’m designing a minimalist site, obviously I want it to look clean and refreshing. I try to create layouts that are easy for the user to navigate, but are still packed with visual interest. I like to draw peoples’ eyes right to the content, without a lot of distractions, and simply make them think, “Wow.”
You can create a site that is minimal, yet has wow factor, it all depends on the type of content you create. Think about the reader, and think about how you can make visiting your blog an experience for them. Ok, enough with the artsy fartsy theories, and on to some real tips on how you can create visual interest with a minimal design.
- Ask yourself, how can I layout my site a little differently than everyone else is doing? Sometimes just surprising people with something they don’t see all the time is enough! For example, on my design site, I decided to create the home page as sort of a visual menu. I used photos with text overlaid so that people could click on where they wanted to go from the visuals, rather than just having a standard menu. What type of content do you create, and how can you deliver that in a new way that is simple but not boring?
- Pops of color are ok. Don’t be afraid to use color with minimalism, it can be done! My color palette for my design site is dark gray, very light gray, blue and orange. Not exactly the palette you think of when you think minimalism, but in my humble opinion it works because I use those pops of color sparingly.
- Black and white is ok too! But be very careful. Black and white can be a little harsh on the eyes. That’s why (as I mentioned earlier) I almost always go with a dark gray instead of black. It still translates as a “black and white” palette, but is somehow, just a little subtle detail that makes a difference.
- Use flat design. Get rid of drop shadows and text shadows- they are a thing of the past. Flat design is here to stay. Flat buttons, flat text boxes, flat menus.
- Emphasize your photography. If you don’t have a large budget, and don’t know how the hell to remove drop shadows from your buttons (now would be a great time to stop by our forums and ask for coding help!) then make your layout as simple as possible and draw your readers’ eye to your photos. Obviously this only applies if your blog is rich in photography.
- If you’re not sure where to start, or how you can incorporate minimal design into you blog, leave a comment at the bottom of this post and I will personally take a look at your blog and help you out!
You can check out the entire line up of amazing women sharing their design expertise here at the DYOB Blog Tour homepage!
Yesterday, Emma Davies shared her Photography Tips for Blogs
And Monday, Anna Marie Moore will be sharing her advice with us!
Don’t miss a single tip, get all 14 tips delivered to you FREE by signing up here!