You’ve made the decision to start a travel blog, and it’s an exciting time. Then you realize that you don’t know exactly how or where to start designing it! Fear not, these design tips will hopefully point you in the right direction to having an eye-catching and successful travel blog.
You have only 5-10 seconds to make your first impression with a blog, which is why the design of the blog matters as much as the content.
Choose a Theme
Whoever you have hosting your blog, they probably have a bewildering array of themes to choose from. Some themes are free, and others cost, but you need to find a theme that is right for you and your blog. Try to choose a theme with a lot of space for photos – you’ll probably have a lot of them to share from your journey.
Look at the way the information is laid out in each theme – is it simple and elegant, or cluttered and hard to navigate? You need to spend some time thinking about the best theme for you, and a lot of hosts will let you preview each theme to help you decide.
Useful Resources: Free WordPress Themes and Templates
Design a Logo and Header for Your Blog
Not every travel blog has a logo, but it’s a good way to create your brand. You can put it on the photos you post, use it on social media, or even have it on any merchandizing you may be planning for the future! If you plan to use colors in your logo there should be no more than two complementing colors, as you may choose to use the same colors in designing your website later.
There are many free logo design websites out there, but the quality varies wildly. The best-looking logos will cost you, even if you have designed it on a DIY website. These websites charge to send you the print and web files of your new logo, but it isn’t usually a huge amount.
List of 20 Free Online Logo Makers
Use Only 2-3 Fonts
At most you only need one font for your logo, one for your headlines, and one for your body content. If you use more, your blog will look cluttered and messy. Typography is the foundation of good design, so you need to figure out the best font combinations.
There are several font categories: serif, sans serif, slab serif, monospaced, script and display. There are also several font families that provide a variety of text weights and widths that you can use for contrast. Whatever fonts you choose, make sure they can be read on a mobile device.
How to Combine Fonts
Combining the right fonts for your blog post headers and text can really help with getting the right feel for the blog.
Combine a serif font with a sans serif font: Serif fonts have little serifs or extenders sticking off the edge of each stroke. Serif fonts are the traditional fonts for print, and feel very traditional. Book Antiqua or Cambria are examples of serif fonts.
Sans serif fonts don’t have these extenders. Sans serif simply means ‘without serif’. These fonts have a more modern feel, and are common on websites. Arial and Trebuchet are examples of sans serif fonts.
Create a hierarchy: If you choose fonts with a family, you should use the heavier weight ones on the headings, and the lighter ones on the body text. The page title should always be the largest font on the page, and no other element should use the same size font.
Create clear contrast: Try combining wide and condensed fonts, uppercase and lowercase fonts, fancy and simple fonts, or contrasting colors.
Useful Fonts Tool:
Canva Font Combinations – finding font combinations
Google Fonts – fonts directory
1001 Free Fonts – free fonts directory
Font Squirrel – more free fonts
Tiff – visually contrasts the differences between two fonts
Stick to a 3-Color Palette
It’s considered best to stick to a 3-color palette for your blog, aside from black, gray and white. Any more colors than 3, and your website starts to look chaotic and distracting.
Pick two colors that go well together, then pick a third one as an accent color. If you are no good at color matching, get a color wheel, or download a free color wheel app to help you.
If your logo doesn’t have colors in it, you’ll need to choose colors from scratch, if it does, you should use these as your first two colors. Try thinking about what each color means, and how it feels. Color theory is a whole science, and big, successful businesses don’t pick their brand colors at random – they do it for the psychological impact.
Warm colors like yellow, orange or red evoke outgoing, energetic and happy feelings, cool colors like blue and purple can have a calming or reserved effect, while neutral colors such as gray or beige don’t really inspire much emotion.
Look at successful travel blogs you like to see what the predominant colors are.
Best Image Practices
As a blogger, you need lots of images of your travels to add beauty and interest. Good thing that as a traveler, you probably have plenty of photos taken in different parts of the world to share. Before posting a picture on your blog, try answering the following questions:
● Is your picture connected to your content? Try to avoid inserting random images just to break the text: it will only distract user’s attention.
● Is your image high-quality? If it’s blurred or pixelated, it’s better to look for a different photo: bad-quality photo can ruin the whole impression.
● Is your photo eye-catching? Some people will just scroll through your post, and images is a great way to win their attention (especially the featured image). Try to improve your photos with some basic photo editing: to straighten and crop the photo, adjust colors and contrast, apply some filters or presets.
● Is your picture optimized?
Did you know that images have the largest negative impact on page loading speeds?
No one will wait around for your images to load; they will be gone to the next blog where they can get instant gratification. So how can you have lots of beautiful images without affecting your page loading speeds?
First thing you need to do is reduce your image sizes without reducing quality. What is the best way to do that? There are three steps to take to compress your images, whichever editing program you use:
● Images should be saved at the size at which they are displayed on the page. This means that logos, icons and sidebar images should be no larger than you want them to appear on the page.
● For photos, do not upload an image at full size. Resize first in your image editor to the largest size that it will appear on your page. The ideal size for Pinterest images is 735 x 1102 px, and that is full width for desktop. Pinterest’s minimum is 600 px, which will save you even more loading time.
● Always click Save for Web in Photoshop, not Save As. This will give you the option to reduce the image quality to save on the size.
● If you are given the choice of Progressive or Baseline saving options for your JPEG’s, choose Progressive because they appear to load faster than Baseline.
Do you know the feeling when you see the post and know exactly who wrote it? Or you see the photo and know who took it or where it comes from? That’s called brand consistency. It means that you have your own style that is recognizable and predictable in a good way.
When similar elements on your site look, function and feel in a similar way, it’s easier to remember the site and navigate it. Think about your pictures, fonts, page structure, even writing style. Do your images have an individual look? Does your post have a structure? Do you keep your headings, lists formatting, quotations in the same style?
Consistency also applies to the blogging itself. Try to think about your blog categories, tags, posting schedule, maybe some regular column – readers like knowing when and what kind of post they can expect from you.
There is much to think about before you even publish your first travel blog post, and design is an important part of that. Remember, you only have seconds to catch the visitor’s interest, and a visually appealing, professional-looking blog will help you catch people’s eye and make you stand out from the crowd.