So I have a thing against ugly blogs. Perhaps it’s not ugly blogs, as there a couple of blogs that I read that I think are ugly, but rather blogs where the blogger has taken no care in the design or layout. The sites that use the default blogger templates (you know, the one that looks someting like a reverse Mondrian painting?). Sites that are hosted somewhere that forces ads somewhere also start several points in the hole (on a scale where you must have positive points before I’ll consider reading your site) – which I know is unfair, but whatever. My favourite blogs, the ones I read everyday, are all beautifully designed. I think not coincidentally, they tend to be on the clean, minimal side of the design barometer. Worth points, but less than clean and minimal is humorous or ironic design.
I also judge books & CDs by their covers. Why? because someone who has made the investment in their design probably cares more about their creation is my rationale, which will probably translate into a better product. I’ve yet to find a designed blog (note that it doesn’t have to be good – the effort involved is the key) that has inane content. Likewise, every CD I’ve bought based on the cover, I’ve liked (this includes both artists I’ve know previously and those who I haven’t). Books have been a little bit more hit and miss, but with ‘designed’ covers being one of the marks differentiating ‘literature’ and pulp ‘fiction’ these days, it’s generally at least a sign of the intended quality of writing.
So for any new bloggers out there, take some time! If you don’t know any HTML, now’s the perfect time to learn. It’s really very simple! If you see a design you like, use elements of it (but please, please, let the person know. It’s one thing to incorporate, sample, do a cover of and be inspired by. It’s a whole other thing to simply steal the design). Chances are if you’ve made your blog your own, you’ll like it more, you’ll take better care of it, you’ll possibly attract more readers too.