WordPress Blog Design: 21 Best Practices for Beginners

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WordPress Blog Design: 21 Best Practices for Beginners

WordPress blog design ideas and inspiration

In this blog post, I’m going to show you 21 WordPress blog design best practices. To start, let’s establish that a good blog design focuses where it should be: on the content.

Far too often, new bloggers get carried away with their WordPress blog design and turn their blog into a hoarder house.

Cluttered blogs totally overwhelm new visitors, and as a result, they bounce.

When it comes to your blog design, simple is better.

I don’t care how great your content is – if your readers aren’t sticking on your page long enough to read it – it just doesn’t matter. So let’s put the focus on designing a reader-friendly WordPress blog.

Once you unlock the formula for a blog design that’s easy to read, you will notice better blog engagement stats, more blog comments, more social shares, and even better Google search rankings.

Update: In fact, Google announced that in 2021 page experience is a ranking factor.

Ready to design a WordPress blog with user experience in mind? Here are the 21 best practices for WordPress blog design.

1. Design your blog with WordPress

This goes without saying, but I think I need to say it anyway: build your blog with the best blogging platform: WordPress.

While the more user-friendly Wix and Squarespace are worthy competitors, neither is better than WordPress. Here’s why:

  • WordPress is free.

WordPress is open-source software that is free to use and is constantly improving. Use HostGator and you can get started blogging after installing WordPress in one click.

  • You can design your blog or website with zero experience.

With WordPress, you have complete control of your blog design. There are even entire websites (that don’t even have a blog) that run on WordPress. So if you visit a website any website, there’s a better than 1 in 3 chance it runs on WordPress (source).

  • Thousands of plugins.

There are thousands of plugins to customize and enhance your blog. In addition, there are entire businesses built on just being a WordPress plugin. For example, the SocialWarfare plugin I use for my social share icons.

  • Software integrations.

Over time you will need high-end tools to help grow your blog, such as ConvertKit for email marketing and Thrive Leads for lead generation. All of these tools integrate seamlessly with WordPress.

  • There are a ton of free resources.

There are tons of free resources on WordPress. If there’s a question you have, odds are it has already been asked and answered.

Start a blog with WordPress + HostGator

If you want to start a blog and make money with it, you can’t go wrong with HostGator.

2. Choose a lightweight WordPress theme

Never let the design of your blog slow down your website. For this reason, choose a lightweight blog theme that’s built with speed in mind.

The blog theme I use and recommend is Astra Pro. For beginners, they have starter templates (see them here) to quickly build your entire website in minutes.

Other lightweight blog themes I recommend include:

If you want full control of what everything looks like on a page, you can design your blog using a visual blog builder like Divi from Elegant Themes or Thrive Theme Builder.

This fast-loading, ultra-light blog theme is easy to set up and is my #1 recommended theme for WordPress.

3. Use a page builder

To design the main pages of your blog, you’re going to need a page builder like Elementor.

Use Elementor to design your homepage, a blog page, an about page, services, and a contact page.

To quickly design all of these pages at once, you can import a ready-made design using Astra’s Elementor templates.

While I recommend Elementor for beginners, for pro bloggers, I recommend Thrive Architect. Thrive Architect is more conversion-minded and is the page builder I use for my sales pages.

Visually design your blog posts using the most popular page builder for WordPress. Over 4M users.

4. Design a logo on Canva

Now that you have your blog theme installed, next up is to create your logo.

You don’t need to hire a graphic designer to design a logo. You can do this on your own!

Go to Canva and use their logo maker tool (or search for logo templates if you’re already a Canva user). Choose a logo style you like, make your changes and save the file.

When you create your websites’ logo, keep it simple. You’ll notice the best logos are the simplest ones.

To add your logo to your blog, you go to Appearance > Customize > Logo in most WordPress themes.

I create all of my Pinterest pins, logos, featured images, and ads, all with Canva.

5. Choose your brand color(s)

Many new bloggers make the mistake of overdoing it when it comes to the color scheme of their blog. It is pretty hard (if not impossible) to create a colorful blog that looks good. I know I can’t do it.

You can use a color palette generator like this one from Canva to find colors that go well together. But what looks good on a palette doesn’t always translate once the colors spread out on your blog.

Instead, I have a much simpler way to choose your blogs’ color scheme. Choose 3 colors – as long as the first two are black and white.

I know this sounds insane, but you cannot go wrong with this formula.

And when it comes to blog design, it’s more about not messing it up rather than creating a visual masterpiece. After all, it is your content that should matter the most.

6. Create a menu for easy navigation

The purpose of your menu is to help visitors navigate to other sections of your website. Therefore, rather than listing all of your blog categories and sub-categories in your menu, I prefer to keep it simple.

Here’s what I recommend having in your menu:

  • About me

Your about me page will be one of the most visited pages on your blog.

  • Blog

Rather than cluttering your menu by listing all of your blog categories, consider linking to your blog page instead.

  • Resources

Create a page where you list your favorite tools or resources. It’s a great page to earn affiliate income. For example, my resources page has the tools I use to run this blog. It’s a valuable resource for bloggers, and I earn affiliate income on the tools that have an affiliate program.

  • Call To Action

This page is the most important page on your blog. It may be a “Shop” link, a “Courses” page, or simply a landing page for your email list.

When it comes to your menu, simple is better. If you overwhelm the reader with too many options, they will choose none. So instead, focus their attention on the parts of your website that are the most important to you.

7. Design a conversion-focused homepage

Many bloggers use their home page to display their latest blog posts. That’s not the best use of your homepage. Instead, your homepage should serve as a roadmap.

To create a custom homepage, create a new page first (Pages > Add New). Then, to let your blog know that this page should be displayed as your home page, go to Settings > Reading > Your homepage displays > A static page and choose your newly created page.

Here’s how to design an awesome homepage:

  • Header

Here you have your logo and your menu. This is VERY valuable real estate, so don’t make this section too tall.

I recently moved my logo to be on the same line as the menu to save space.

  • Above the fold

Put what is MOST important to you in this section. A common practice is a section about you along with a freebie with an opt-in form. Take advantage of this section to establish credibility. Why should someone learn from you?

  • What do you need help with

Your homepage is like a catch-all. You don’t know why the person is on your page. Make sure they don’t get lost and ask them what they need. You can link to your main blog categories here.

  • Your best content

Include links to your most popular posts. But think of this from the reader’s perspective. If someone lands on your homepage, what content could help them the most?

  • Footer

You can add an additional module in the footer and display an opt-in form, a paid product, a contact form (if you’re a freelancer or offer services), or links to your social media accounts (if you are an “influencer”).

8. Create the blog page and category pages

Your blog posts belong on a blog page. It makes sense because what we are doing is building an entire website. So your blog is just a part of your website.

You have to think bigger than just a blog. You are running a business here.

Your blog posts exist only to bring free traffic to your websites (also known as content marketing).

Let’s design your blog page now. First, create a new page to design your blog page, and then add a link to this page on your menu.

Displaying all of your blog posts in chronological order is not the way to go here.

Design your blog page with the reader in mind. For example, it would be far more useful to display your posts by category instead.

9. Design a template for your blog posts

If you’re not using a visual blog theme (or a page builder like Elementor), you don’t have much choice to design your blog posts. It’s either a wide blog post page or a narrow one with a sidebar.

But if you are using a blog page builder like Divi or Thrive Theme Builder, you have full control over how your blog posts look.

To make your content easier to read, make sure the width of your content isn’t too wide. It’s easy to lose your place when you’re reading a seemingly endless line.

To keep the reader from becoming overwhelmed with too much text on a line, set the width of your content to between 700-900px wide.

10. Make your blog content easy to read

Now it’s time to design the content of your blog posts. This is where the reader will spend the bulk of their time consuming your content.

Again, the WordPress blog design principle of keeping it simple still holds true.

I get it; you’re creative. But keep the creativity for your header, sidebar, or footer. For example, in the article section, don’t mess with the colors!

Only use black text on a white background.

For reading text, this is the only color contrast combination that works. You can choose off-white and something close to black. The color code of this text is #252525.

There’s a reason why just about every textbook or novel ever published has utilized this standard – it’s just easy to read.

11. Choose a font that’s easy to read (and loads fast)

When it comes to fonts, there are many options to choose from. Here’s another example where simple is better.

To make your content easier to read (and keep the visitor on your blog longer), use a readable font.

I use and recommend Google Fonts.

For my blog, I use Open Sans at the moment. In the past, I’ve used Montserrat and Lato. These are all easy-to-read lightweight Google fonts. Other readable non-Google fonts include Helvetica, Georgia, and Verdana.

Another benefit of these fonts is that they are pretty universal. So regardless of whether they’re viewed on a mobile/desktop device, Mac/Windows, or Chrome/Safari, your text will be seen as intended.

12. Use a larger font size

For a long time, text on web pages was small – similar to the text you’d find in a magazine, newspaper, or book.

That was then, and this is now. For some reason, font sizes have been increasing, and I couldn’t be happier. You have no idea the number of times I would scale up a page to 125% just to comfortably read the content.

When you choose a large font size, you are ensuring your content can be read by everyone. Unfortunately, not everyone has 20/20 vision or wants to strain their eyes to read small text.

The font size I use for my blog is 20 pixels on desktop and 18px on mobile.

13. Set a large line height and paragraph spacing

Spacing is important for an easy, smooth read. The last thing you want is all your lines squished together. For my blog, I use a line-height of 1.6.

Using a theme builder like Divi and Thrive Theme Builder, you can edit the line height and instantly see what looks good.

For other blog themes, it’s a bit more complicated as you’ll need to add additional CSS code.

For many blog themes the CSS code is: .entry-content p { line-height: 1.5; }

And to edit the space between list items it’s: .entry-content ul li { line-height: 1.5; }

In many themes, you can edit the CSS by going to Appearance > Customize > Additional CSS.

Play with the font, letter spacing, and line-height until you find the right look.

14. Write like you talk

You’re writing a blog that helps people just like you – not a research paper. As such, your writing should be in a more relaxed, informal tone. This is one of the ways you can connect with your audience.

So break the rules and start sentences with and, so, because, but and also. I know it’s not grammatically correct, but your blog is just a conversation with your readers, so you should write as you talk.

To help make your blog posts even easier to read, break up big blocks of text. There’s nothing wrong with 1 or 2 sentence paragraphs. And there’s nothing wrong with short sentences either.

While you may find this hard to believe, I use Grammarly to help write my content and keep it casual and conversational.

You’re going to become a better writer by installing and using the free Grammarly browser extension to edit your content.

15. Make your text stand out

Make use of typographical emphasis to make your key points stand out.

Your blog post is a story, and it’s your job to take them on a journey. And a journey without twists and turns is just plain boring. So think of text the same way.

Break boring regular text with bold, italics, underline, and even highlighting to make your text stand out.

16. Use visual content in your blog posts

Adding visual content to your blog posts is another way to keep their eyeballs on the page.

You can get free stock images to use in your blog posts from Pexels (who I use) and Unsplash (also free) to help illustrate your points.

For a wider selection of stock images you won’t find anywhere else, try 123RF (paid) and DepositPhotos (paid).

In addition to stock images, use screenshots if you’re describing how to do something online or reviewing a service.

I usually like to add one picture after every heading. Of course, that might be a bit of overkill – but definitely don’t stick with text-only blog posts.

You can go further and embed Youtube videos within your content. Doing this will increase your average session duration and can help demonstrate what you’re describing.

17. Organize your content into sections

Whenever I go to an article, I don’t read the whole thing, word for word. Instead, I scan through the headings and only read the section that directly answers my question best.

It’s so much easier to consume blog posts when they are divided into readable sections rather than an endless block of text.

Don’t just use bold to separate your key points. No, use headers. They are also valuable as an on-site SEO tool. Headers (h1, h2, h3, h4) let Google know the main key points in your article.

For example, the title of this blog post uses an h1 tag, and each of the steps uses an h2 tag.

18. Use bullet points to outline key points

In addition to separating your content into sections with headings, you should also list key points in bullet points.

Here’s why they work:

  • Outline key points.

When you’re trying to break down a concept, bullet points make it easier to explain.

  • They’re “sub-headers”.

Think of bullet points as sub-headers within the main headers of your article.

  • They’re amazing!

Why? Because they are almost always read, not skipped. See what I mean?

19. Write list-style articles (listicles) and how-to’s

Ever wonder why you see list-style posts everywhere? It’s because they work.

Even if you don’t like to admit it, you love to click on list posts. There’s no shame in that. I do it all the time too.

List posts outline key points in a highly scannable way.

These “listicles” get a bad rap, but it’s not the articles themselves that are the problem – it’s the clickbait headlines.

So as long as you don’t get carried away with Buzzfeed-style headlines, you’ll be alright.

How-tos are also very effective at getting a high click-through rate and keeping readers on your site longer.

You can test the score of your headlines using Coschedule’s Headline Analyzer tool.

To take this to another level, you can test which headlines get the most engagement on your blog using Thrive’s Headline Optimizer plugin.

It works by creating multiple headlines and letting the plugin run a test to determine the headline with the highest engagement score.

20. Check your analytics

The numbers don’t lie. So the answers to whether any changes you make are working will always come from your stats.

Look at your Google Analytics data and make a note of your engagement stats. Specifically, look at the average session duration and pageviews per session metrics.

Google tries to gauge user experience by looking at a visitors’ average dwell time on your blog.

Dwell time is defined as the length of time a person spends on your blog, starting from a click on a search result and ending when they return to the results page (source).

Dwell time is important because it tells Google that the reader found exactly what they were searching for. In other words, the search engine did its job by presenting the perfect search result for that particular search query.

While you don’t have access to this data, you can, however, look at your “average session duration” for each page in Google Analytics or the Reports page with the ExactMetrics plugin.

See how your best pages perform right on your WordPress dashboard. I hate going to Google Analytics, so seeing my stats right from WordPress is great.

21. Add internal links to other relevant content

Another way to improve your dwell time is to have the user navigate to multiple pages per visit. The longer they stay on your website, the better your dwell time is going to be.

A good WordPress blog design provides a good user experience. And a huge part of providing a good user experience is making sure the reader gets the information they came for – and allows them to learn more.

This is why I like to look at Google Analytics for the pages per session and the bounce rate data.

The bounce rate is the percent of users who land on your blog and leave without going to another page. When you provide a good user experience, you will have a lower bounce rate.

Adding links to related content within your blog post will improve the chances that the reader will go to other pages on your blog and thus stay on your blog longer.

I use LinkWhisper to help me identify internal link opportunities. However, the feature I use the most is adding internal links in older content to my new post.

This WordPress plugin helps you add internal links throughout your blog, helping you push link juice to all the right pages.

Linking to your other content not only improves user experience, but it helps with Google too. With a good internal link strategy, you can tell Google what content is related to each other and which blog posts are most important.

Wrapping it up

If you followed these best practices for WordPress blog design, you could expect to see:

  • Longer time on page
  • More pages visited
  • More blog comments
  • More social shares
  • An improved Google ranking

If this article has helped you design your own blog, it would totally rock my socks if you hit the Pin button below to save this blog post on Pinterest!

Until next time,
Edwin, DoSixFigures.com

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  About > me

Edwin is the professional blogger and side hustle expert behind Do Six Figures. With 20+ years of experience building profitable websites and making money online under his belt, Edwin is now obsessed with helping people find their perfect side hustle and make serious money online.

2 thoughts on “WordPress Blog Design: 21 Best Practices for Beginners”

  1. I’ve seen you mention the Divi template many times in several of your articles. It definitely sounds like it’s worth checking out! Also, just a quick question about user engagement: are there specific ways to reduce bounce rate? Any suggestions on how to catch the reader’s attention quickly or keep them interested when they land on the blog home page? Thanks 🙂

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