How to design anything when starting a new blog or website

If you’re starting up a blog or a website, one of your major worries is probably graphics and, strongly connected to that, branding. You want to make your site stand out, and you don’t want to make your graphics look amateurish or forgettable. That’s a pretty tall order… right?

How to design anything

The reality is, there are a lot of resources out there for you. Of course, if you’re really not confident in your own skills, you could hire a designer or run a contest: there are a lot of freelancers and contractors out there who would love to help you out for a surprisingly small fee. But there’s also no reason why you can’t do it yourself. You just need to start with a really clear idea of what you want.

Ask yourself:

  • What do I need? Do you need a banner logo, or something small, or a couple of size variations for different contexts? You would usually want to get a consistent look across your site or brand, so the sooner you figure out exactly what you need, the easier it is to make sure what you’re making works.
  • How do I keep it simple? The best logos might be iconic, but they’re also simple. Think Apple or Google – simple symbols, or a consistent colour scheme or font, can be just as effective as something more complicated. Brainstorm some representative symbols, or pick a colour palette you can reproduce across all your graphics. There’s always a temptation to add more, but it really isn’t necessary. In fact, the more you add to your logo, banner or background, the more crowded it looks – and the more likely it is to look thrown together.
  • What am I trying to say? Your graphics are probably the first thing visitors to your site are going to notice. You have to make an impression right away. For example, you need to choose your font wisely. If you use Comic Sans, people will assume it’s probably something to do with children. If you’re doing a blog about childcare, that’s fine, but if you’re trying to sell technology, you need something more mature.
  • Is there a shortcut? There are loads of resources out there which you can download to get a unique look. There are dozens of sites offering free fonts for download – just google “free fonts” and you’ll be spoilt for choice. If you want to include images, search for stock photos, and keep an eye out for ones which are free!

Graphic design sounds a lot harder than it is. Chances are, you can create something you’re happy with in no time at all – and if it looks good to you, it’s perfect for your site. It’ll say more about you than anything you could commission, and you’ll have saved money too.

That said, if you do have the money to spare, working closely with a designer is great too. We don’t all have to be design geniuses! Just make sure to check out their portfolio first, to get an idea of whether their aesthetic matches what you’re looking for. You could even mock up something yourself and ask them to make it look good.

Whatever you go with, don’t stop until you’re happy with it. People do judge books by their covers, and the first thing their eyes are drawn to on a webpage is the graphics.

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