Most of the open source blogging platforms out there are going to come with at least a few different basic blogging designs. Some platforms call them themes, others call them templates, and others still have completely unique names for them. Most of these basic themes or templates have nothing inherently wrong with them, but customization is somewhat necessary otherwise everyone would have a blog that looked exactly the same as every other blog. Most blogging templates are really basic, and adding your own flair to them is easy. Still, many people get the whole customization thing wrong, and need to be steered in the right direction. There are some basic mistakes to how people go about customizing their blogs, and hopefully we can dispel some of them in this series on principles for good blog design.
1 – Whether you really want to or not, it is vital that you have some information about *you* in the blog. Either create an about me page, or have some information about yourself displayed in the sidebar of your blog. This should be a prominently placed section so it can be easily found, and it should be truly about who you are, rather than read like a resume.
2 – Make sure that your personal contact information is readily available, and even more importantly, easily visible. You need to at least have an e-mail address visible, and a phone number would be even better. If you want to prevent spammers from harvesting your e-mail address, use an image to display it rather than text. You can always use a free web based e-mail address such as a yahoo, gmail or hotmail address to keep from having your true personal address displayed, if you like. By posting real contact information, you are going to make yourself appear much more real. Although people may not really find reasons to contact you, you’re still indicating to your readers that you are available, which is a good thing.
3 – You should absolutely include a picture of yourself in your blog. All blogs, even business blogs, are personal, and the people who visit yours are going to want to know who you are and what you look like so that they can get to know you, and can benefit from the personal nature of your blog. It is much easier to build trust between yourself and your readers if your picture is visible and your readers feel like they know you. You do not absolutely need a picture, but it is still strongly recommended that you do have one in order to get the most out of your blog.
4 – Some of your blog posts are going to be more popular than others. Once you recognize which blog posts these are, keep them from being buried by finding a way to highlight them.
Continued in part 2 of this series.
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