For a long time I have been frustrated with the design of blogs. They seem overly busy, overwhelming, even. Larger blogs quickly bloat and explode with unregulated sidebars filled with myriad categories, archives, search bars and artifacts of all make and measure.
So, what do you do with all that “stuff” when people come to your blog on mobile? Where does it all go? Is it really OK to take all your navigation and just push it down to the bottom of the page? That is what the majority of blogs seem to do.
There has to be a better way! There is!
Here are some interesting changes in how blogs are being designed in 2015, in part to accommodate the shift to mobile as the surfing device of choice.
Let’s take a look into the brave new world of blog design, 2015 style
1. Just a Few Key Categories
Many blogs are what I like to refer to as “Category Happy”— they have far more categories than they need. Even in a professional corporate blog there can be 20 or more subjects in their blog. In this day and age, that is officially crazy.
The cull is finally on, and many newer corporate blogs are starting to reduce and control “categories” so that they resemble the primary navigation of a typical website. This helps keep everything in the blog on topic and keeps anyone from creating random categories just because it seemed like a good idea at the time.
2. Separate Category Pages
So, what about when you really do need 150 separate categories on your blog? Rather than create the drop-down to end all drop-downs, what about a separate category page? This creates an easy go-to location for anyone looking to search by a topic, and works really well on almost any device, including tiny-screened smartphones.
3. Emphasis on the “Newest” Post
Blogs have always been about the newest post, but this “timeliness” is even more prevalent today. As more and more of the excess design elements are stripped away by increased mobile use, what‘s on top matters more than ever.
On many blogs, “categories” may play second or third fiddle to other elements such as “new and trending.” “Categories” might even be placed at the bottom of the page.
Why? People tend to read posts in chronological order and often prefer to search when looking for specific types of information based on keywords instead of categories.
4. Death of the Blog Archive
The blog archive is no more. The little sidebar widget that once allowed users to go back to a specific month in a blog’s history has bit the dust. Its relative uselessness shall clutter our screens no more.
The little archive feature held on long past its time. Once search bars were common on blogs and users could easily find any post from any timeframe, the need to use a dropdown or calendar to find a date was outdated. But, the archive held on like some crazed immortal creature from the black lagoon.
But now it’s dead, so please don’t exhume the body for your new blog. Necrophilia is frowned upon in all 50 states and US territories.
5. Death of the Blog Sidebar
I must admit, as time goes by, I am slowly learning to hate the sidebar. When it comes to blogs, in an effort to give it purpose, you end up stuffing it full of useless garbage. Do you really need that archive list from 2001? The Facebook feed? Do similar posts belong midway through the post as a temptation to get the user to click away from the current article? Doesn’t that seem counterproductive? (Note: You should suggest more posts at the end of the post, not halfway though.)
And based on many newer blogs I’m seeing, I don’t seem to be alone in this thinking. The heavy, overwrought sidebar seems to be going the way of the dinosaur. The larger trend is that unnecessary content is being stripped away, and designers are finding new places for the important content that offers a more consistent experience for desktop and mobile users.
6. Simple Blogs are Sweeter
Blogs are so busy on their own that adding a lot of additional design elements is going out of fashion. Fancy/gaudy headers and attention-grabbing backgrounds such of those from the pre-mobile design era are gone. In 2015, clean design and excellent typography are top dog, and extra points are given to anyone who has amazing photography.
Your blog’s personality is driven by good content and great images.
7. Features on Top
It’s new. It’s hot. You really want your users to read it. Make the blog post bigger. It really does make sense, and it isn’t a new trend onto itself—designers have been doing it since they climbed out of the primordial ooze. But, they are really starting to get good at it.
8. Let’s Play Cards
Screens are wide. Screens are narrow. It’s no wonder the classic linear blog archive style with one post on top of the other spanning across the page is being experimented with. One of the most popular styles that’s popping up all over the web is the card or block style. Typically three or four cards across, it easily reformats to tablet and phone, making for a comfortable and consistent cross-device experience.
So, what major blog design changes have you noticed?
Where is blog design going in your mind?