While the big names out there are putting out 2017 web design trends, I have conducted my own research for blog design! A few of the things I mention here are my own thoughts that I, as a designer and developer, would like to see done across the World Wide Web, especially across personal blogs. I think it is safe to say that the 5 things I mention below are as evergreen as they come, and really, just good design practices than anything else!
Matthew Butterick, a type designer and lawyer, has been saying this for years that the body font dictates the quality of a document (or a blog in our case). Just think about it for a second. Most of your blog is comprised of two things: images (which we will talk about next) and your body text. People who blog, have something to say. And that is what the body text is all about. Your voice, your story. If you want people to read what you write, then you better make sure your body text is readable! All good websites or blogs that are text heavy have one thing in common. They all have great typography. It is obvious just at a glance that they chose their designer right. The biggest problem with bloggers happen to be the fact that a lot of them do not hire the right designer. There are plenty of self-taught designers out there (which is perfectly fine, and I happen to be one of them), but a lot of these designers do not spend time learning their craft. A majority of them are motivated by earning a quick buck rather than what should be the true motivation! Designing for the purest pleasure of designing. And that takes us back to the basics; the core of good design principles. (This is a fabulous article about what a designer’s role is supposed to be.)
Anyhow, putting that aside for the time being, let’s look at a few specifics. According to Matthew Butterick, adhering to these 4 things will dramatically increase the quality of your document’s (or blog’s) typography. And I whole heartedly agree with Mr. Butterick. In fact, I consider him my typography teacher! So, what are these 4 things?
Font size: Should be 15-25 pixels (or equivalent em or rem value) for blogs. So many “designers” out there creating blogs with body font size of 12 px… please don’t! Do yourself and your clients a favor, and spend some time learning typography.
Line height: Negative space is extremely important when it comes to web design. Reading experience is highly elevated or lowered by the choice of negative spacing. If line height is too tight, it looks crammed, and if it is too spread out, that is also not very pleasant.
Line length: Think of the body width. If it is too wide, you have to move your eyes too much and too often to read, which makes them tire easily. Good design incorporates the ease of the user into the design elements themselves. According to Butterick, line length should be 45-90 characters per line.
The font choice: Thankfully, even the most newbie designer these days knows not to use a system font. But even so, a lot goes into choosing the right font. A font is basically the voice of a site. So, choose wisely.
Whether you are a blogger or a designer or both, please invest some time reading Matthew Butterick’s Practical Typography. You’ll be doing yourself a favor, trust me on this.
If you take into all my hobbies and side gigs into account, I’m a photographer before I’m a web designer / developer. I have always had this thing against stock photography, albeit I do understand that sometimes, quality stock photos are the way to go. First of all, not many personal bloggers have the means to hire a professional photographer for every single photo they use in their social media and blog posts, nor can they afford to learn the trade themselves. Second, art requires passion. You can teach yourself an art, but to be a master (or even a jack) of the said art, you need passion. Not everyone has that. But truth be told, more and more I see people opting for original photography. And Creative Market seems to agree with me! By the way, do read their post on 2017 web design trends that I just linked, they cover a lot more ground than I do here.
So, here’s one possible fix to the problem. Even if you cannot hire a pro photog, may be you have a friend or a cousin, or your son’s high school friend who wants to become a photographer someday. Enlist them! May be some of them will help you out for free, or for really cheap, because you know… we all start somewhere! One other option is to avoid the generic stock photos. You know… the stock photos that practically SCREAM stock photo! Try and choose pictures that look more original and personal. Two of my favorite stock photo sources are Unsplash, and Death to Stock. Their collection is not as wide and all encompassing as some other, bigger stock photo agencies, but they are more down to earth with their subject matter and approach.
Again, this is nothing new. Mobile templates have existed for as long as my little cousin has (who is an adult member of the white collar working society now), however, now with our grand parents and great grand parents and their pets, all using their mobile devices for browsing, there really is NO EXCUSE for a site to not be responsive. And note that I am not saying mobile-optimized, because the days when there was one web version and one mobile version of a website are long past. With phones and tablets and computers with so many different shapes and sizes and resolutions, really, the correct term should just be “responsive” in my opinion. Your blog HAS TO BE responsive. Meaning, no matter the size of the browser, your blog and all the elements in it (images, fonts, subscription boxes, buttons, etc.) need to “respond” to each and every imaginable browser window accordingly. Whether you are hiring a designer to create a custom template for you, or you are purchasing a pre-made template, make sure that you and the designer are on the same page when it comes to responsiveness of your blog.
Pantone’s color of the year 2017 is called “Greenery”. Yes, vibrant, refreshing, a breath of fresh air… that’s Pantone’s choice of color for the year 2017, and I think that sets off the mood for the rest of the design world just perfectly. Think bright and bold, yet soothing, giving off the “new beginning” feel. We might see a lot of these “cool” and vibrant shades in the days to come. Bright and refreshing green, which goes perfectly well with a cool bluish tone, or a Fanta orange tone, as well as with earth tones for those with a penchant for the neutral. But I am feeling an urgency for vibrancy throughout the inter-webs! Are you?
(Photo by Kazuend via Unsplash)
Well, really, I feel like websites are getting more and more bold these days. No one is as worried about breaking or at least bending some rules anymore. Big and bold fonts (last year Typekit blog featured a website that has Playfair Display as its body font… yeah…) Contrasting colors coexisting in perfect harmony, and just over all a departure from the “good old good ‘n old”, if that makes any sense. We are entering the new, and everything is screaming NEW all around us! If I have to predict ONE things, just ONE design trend for the year 2017, I’d say it is a blank slate! That is the trend! A new beginning for all and everything, and the sky is the limit! As for us designers, that is a VERY good news!