New Blogger Series: Week 2 – Blog Design Tips for Blogger

The design of a blog is the most important feature of a successful blog!  There’s a certain way for how to design a successful blog….you want it to look professional so people keep coming back!

How to DESIGN a Successful Blog

How to Design a Successful Blog

Over the past few months I’ve been asked over and over again from friends, family, and readers “how do I start a blog?”.  Well, over the next few weeks I’m going to show you how to build a successful blog.

What you’ll learn-

I never expected Serendipity and Spice to grow like it has and actually become successful….it was just my way of connecting with the world as a new mom and giving myself something to do during those long nights of Little Man keeping me up.  Well, here we are, 3 years later and I’m making a full time income, starting another blog, writing an e-book, and getting over 1 million page views a month!

Over the years I’ve been through numerous design changes which have been extremely time consuming and left very little cohesiveness in my blog posts.  I probably would have done better to just hire someone out that knows how to design a successful blog.  But, through trial and error I have learned the best ways to design a blog so it’s a success.

1. Choose a Theme

The main thing you want to focus on is the theme and overall look of your blog.  Like we talked about last week in How to Start a Successful Blog you need to make sure that you have purchased your domain name, hosting (I recommend BlueHost— they’re cheap and you’ll get your domain for free), installed, and picked out a framework/theme.  I use the Genesis framework with the child theme Innov8tive….most bloggers either LOVE Genesis or Thesis…these are the two primary frameworks…it really just depends on your personal preference.  I do recommend going ahead and spending the money to purchase one of these frameworks and child themes because it will make life so much easier.

Every time you decide to change your theme you’ll wind up having to remake your logo, header, and other custom buttons to make sure that they fit the new theme correctly.  That’s why it’s so important to choose a theme and stick with it.

2. Choose a Color Scheme

I suggest picking out 4-5 colors that complement each other and using those for everything….this will create cohesiveness throughout your blog.  As you can see I’ve chosen teal, rust, gold, and white for my color scheme….but I didn’t just choose colors…I found the EXACT color hex codes that I wanted.  The hex codes are written down in my blog notebook on the front page and I ONLY use these codes when making anything for Serendipity and Spice.

My favorite place to look for a color palette is Color-Hex.  Color-Hex already has tons of complementing palettes put together….just click on the one you like and it will give you the hex codes for every single color.

The most important design tip that I have is to embrace the white!  Initially you may think it’s boring but using a white background will make everything look crisp and clean.  You don’t want your blog to be overwhelming….you want it to be visually appealing, easy to read, and professional looking.

3. Design a Logo

This is quite possibly the most difficult part of designing a successful blog…I’ve redone my logo more times than I can count!  You need to decide what you would like your logo to convey about your site.  Right now, my logo is a young family because we’re all about “Surviving Parenthood”.  I highly suggest hiring this project out because you could spend HOURS trying to decide on the perfect logo….I’ve spent countless hours reimagining my logo design and I’m still thinking about changing it again.

Check out Fiverr for some amazing graphic artists that do this for a living!  Fiverr is super inexpensive….the concept is that you can have a logo custom designed for just $5…but don’t stop there…many of the artists will go ahead and do all of your headers and blog icons for a nominal fee.  So if you’re not technically savvy (like me) then I suggest just hiring it out and saving yourself hours of time and a BIG headache. 🙂

4. Design Your Headers/Blog Icons

My favorite program for designing headers is PicMonkey.  PicMonkey is great because you can choose the size of design that you want to do and it has so many fonts, clipart, effects, etc.  And if you sign up for the premium service which is super affordable you have access to so much more!  I also use PicMonkey to make blog graphics and to edit my pictures….it’s so much easier to use than PhotoShop!

What you’ll need (all sizes are in px):

  • Blog Header- size is dependent on the theme you choose but it will tell you in the customize tab the size header that you need.
  • Social Media Icons for blog 50×50
  • Facebook Timeline- 849 x 313px
  • Facebook Profile Photo- 180 x 180px
  • Facebook Apps- 111 x 74px
  • Twitter Cover- 1500 x 500 keep elements in 1500 x 354 make the rest white space
  • Twitter Profile Photo- 400 x 400
  • Google+ Cover- 480 x 270
  • Google + Profile Photo- 48 x 48
  • Pinterest Profile Photo- 153 x 153

I’m also just learning Canva which is another great program for making blog graphics.  It’s not as versatile as PicMonkey for editing photos but it does have some great fonts and clip art designs.  Canva charges by the design for premium features at $1 per feature.  So depending on what you want to do with your graphics PicMonkey’s monthly membership may actually be cheaper than Canva….both are great in their own ways.

5. Choose Your Fonts Wisely!

Okay, so I know we all LOVE pretty fonts…unfortunately they’re not easy to read for everyone.  When choosing your fonts for writing blog posts I highly suggest sticking with a simple block style font.  You can use the script fonts for headings but stick with easy to read for the body of your blog.

There are three main types of fonts….

  1. Serif
    • Serif fonts have the little lift at the ends.  It’s a block font but has a little extra style to it!
  2. Sans-Serif
    • Sans-Serif is basic straight line fonts.  There are no lifts at the end…these are the easiest to read!
  3. Script
    • Script fonts are fancy and more difficult to read.  It’s best to leave script fonts for headings or as a highlight….please, please, please DO NOT write your blog in script.  Many people think that using script makes it more like they’re personally writing the post in handwriting but it’s just too difficult to read and you will loose readers.

Now there are other classifications of fonts like Greek, Dingbats, etc.  But these 3 are the main styles that you’re going to use in writing.

6. Setting Up Categories and Menus

One thing that I’m working on right now for Serendipity and Spice is fixing my categories and menus.  When I first started blogging I just made categories up as I went along– which lead to me have dozens and dozens of categories making my blog a pain to navigate.

Decide now what categories you want to cover in your blog and go ahead and add those to your menu (you can do this in a blog post- in WordPress the widget is on the right- just “+Add New Category” then un-check it for that post.

Right now I’m narrowing down my categories to have – Recipes, Crafts, Adventures, Blog Tips, and About Me.  Then I’ll have sub-categories under each of these main categories.  The main categories are what will be along the menu bar of your site….your sub-categories will be the drop down section. For example, the category Recipes will have the sub-categories: Slow Cooker Meals, One Dish Meals, Main Dishes, Veggies/Sides, Desserts, Drinks, Breakfast, and Snacks.

I suggest drawing out how you want your menu set up before you start making categories….this will make it easier to designate categories once you start writing posts.

Don’t overdo your category selections….try to keep them broad and simple.  You can create tags that will narrow down the subject of your posts better.

7. Decide on Sidebar Widgets

So, you want some stuff in your sidebars…but you don’t want to overdo it either.  I would stick with a few 350 x 350 ad spots, a profile picture with a welcome (I’ll teach you how to make that in PicMonkey soon), your lead magnet (we’ll cover that soon- basically it’s getting people to subscribe to your weekly posts),  a search bar, top posts, archives, etc.  You want to keep your sidebar clean and easy to navigate.  I highly suggest sticking with just a single sidebar….when you start getting double sidebars it starts to look spammy and your readers don’t know where to look.

Well, there’s my tips on how to design a successful blog!  Keep it classy and clutter free!  Next week we’ll talk about how to set up your social media accounts.  Until then, make sure you read Starting a Successful Blog, Is Your Blog Legal, and Improving Blog Photos.

What else do you want to learn about blogging? Share in the comments below!


Posts may include affiliate links. Serendipity and Spice earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend at no additional cost to you.
Where I Shop- (1)
Thrive Market - It's like the Costco of organics...this is where I get all of my sugar, flour, baking supplies, kids snacks, etc.
Zaycon Foods- This is where I buy most of my meat products in bulk.  The quality is amazing and the prices just can't be beat!  I mean, $1.89 a pound for boneless all-natural chicken breasts!!  It is bulk but you can always split with a friend or make up a bunch of freezer meals like I do-- subscribe to the newletter as I'll be sharing a bunch of delicious recipes, healthy ideas, family fun, and more!
Make sure you check out the Serendipity and Spice Pinterest board for more great posts! Follow Melissa @Serendipity and Spice's board Serendipity and Spice © on Pinterest.


  1. says

    “Search Google Images for a wallpaper or background that you like.”
    Pretty sure ripping off someone else’s stuff like that is copyright infringement. What happened to giving credit when credit is due?

    Mind if I use your background, header, or your personal about me picture? Only I’m not going to ask. But it’s okay because I found this site on Google, right? (I’m not actually going to do that, but I bet you’d be upset if someone actually did)

    I stopped reading after that suggestion.

    • Melissa Llado says

      Oh my gosh…I am so sorry. Apparently this post needs updating– it’s a REALLY old post and it’s from when I was first learning to blog. Back then I didn’t know all of the rules– but I do now and I would never steal someone elses work. Thank you for pointing this out to me as I’ll make sure to go back through my old posts and make sure I’m not relaying false information. I completely forgot about most of the stuff in that post and most of it doesn’t make sense now since my layout has completely changed.

      Again I really am sorry about that– I’m sorry it offended you so badly.

  2. says

    I’m not sure what’s going wrong– Unfortunately I wrote this post a while back and don’t use that method for my signature anymore.  Now I just have a copy of the html and manually add it to all of my posts because I use Windows Live Writer now (it’s a free download that makes writing posts sooooo much easier).  I know I’m not much help– I’m horrible with html and try to share things that I learn because I know there’s got to be others out there that are html “dummies” like me.  Here’s a good tutorial that may help:

  3. Jas @ All that's Jas says

    Hi Melissa! WOW, so many great tips and so overwhelming. I learned a great deal here, though some of the things worked and others didn’t – like the signature. I really like it but mine only shows up if I create a link at “links to this post” 🙁
    What am I doing wrong? I added my HTML to “Post Template” box.

    I backlinked your awesome blog on my webpage here:

  4. Atir Inspired Decor~AID says

    Great posts I am learning so much. Can you tell me please, can you also add your signature to your pictures on each post in this same manner?

    Thank you & Many Blessings

  5. says

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for the insight on how to put a button in! I have been trying to figure that out for the past week and gave up on it after trying to get it for 2 days straight! Some of this stuff can be very confusing. Again Thank you!

  6. says

    Following you here now Melissa. Hope you’ll follow on mine too. Looking forward to some of your tutorials.
    Coleen, an American in Ukraine

  7. Susan says

    Melissa, how did you get the white band behind your blog title to go away? It’s supposedly transparent, but on my page it shows up as a white band all the way across the page behind the title. Very annoying!

  8. Christina at I Gotta Create! says

    You’re a STAR tonight over at I Gotta Create! Thanks so much for linking up to the Blog Tips Cafe linky party. C’mon over and grab your feature button! I love your series and will be staying tuned. Hope you come back and link up more great ideas <3

  9. Cait says

    Thank you so much for the ideas and how-tos! I’m really new at this and my blog looked really boring. This definitely helped make it look less cookie cutter!

  10. Pamela says

    Thank you for your tips! Simple, easy instructions. Thank you!I was able to add a signature to my blog!


  11. Christina at I Gotta Create! says

    Excellent tips!! Thanks SO much for sharing at the Kiss Me I’m Irish linky party over at I Gotta Create!
    I would also encourage you to share these blogging tips at the Blog Tips Cafe party on my blog to get even more exposure. It’s open all year just for blogging tips, so it gets lots of visits and clicks. The top posts have well over 100 clicks <3

  12. eltocadordecenicienta says

    Hi Melissa, I have seen that you have a really lovely blog design, very professional look!So, i was wondering if i could ask for your help? I´d like to get a index page made of images that links to their post as you have for “My creations”, or “Yummy Eats” and what I dont know is if there is a widget that updates it as you post or if you are making it by hand, first a thumbnail of the photo, then the text, then the link…
    Ups, sorry for the long letter.
    I´m following you and be back very soooooonnn!♥

  13. Sam @ The Junk House says

    Thanks for the info about the tabbed gadget! I’ve seen them on other sites and always wondered if/how to create one in blogger! Great tips!

  14. Karen Angell of Homemade Glamour says

    Thanks for all the great tips! Thank you for the kind comment on my blog. I’m your newest follower! If you get a chance, I’d love it, if you could follow me back. Have a great day!

  15. Frazzled Mom of Five says

    Thank you so much for posting this! I just used the signature wizard and cannot wait to post a new post so I can show it off! Thanks a million!
    ~Any quick tutorials for adding the follow me on pinterest button?

    • Kelley Wilson says

      if you google add a pinterest follow me button it will take you to the pinterest site which will give you the HTML code to put on your post template

  16. Rachel Sanford says

    After pulling my hair out for the last month (since I started my blog) trying to figure out the HTML for making an “About Me” page, I discovered that the new blogger interface actually has an awesome “Pages” feature just like word press. You just click the “Pages” link under the Overview, Posts, then Pages. I was so excited to see this!! You explained this so well, but I thought I’d share my excitement! I love this series, btw, since I just started my own blog! 🙂



    Blue Moon Sun

  17. Baye says

    I got the code for the signature but can’t figure out where to put it in the blogger html code. Can you explain just where it goes? Thanks.

    • Serendipity and Spice says

      Sure. In your blogger dashboard (main page) go to Settings, then Posts and Comments. On the right there will be a box labeled Post Template. Just insert the html code in this box. Then your signature will automatically load everytime you make a post.

  18. Denise says

    Thanks for this post. Can’t wait to try it.

    I’d love to know how to make the smaller buttons all in a row for things like pinterest, facebook, etsy, etc that all have an individual link.

    Denise (

  19. Susan D says

    Love the tips. I would also say only have your links on one side. When I go to a blog that has things on both sides it takes too long and too confusing to find things.

  20. DeAnn @ The SIP project says

    Hey Melissa just started following your blog. Thanks for stopping by mine hope to see you around, I know I will be checking back on you blog often! This is a great post by the way.

  21. Something Nice and Pretty says

    It’s all greek to me but I’m not computer literate at all, thanks for the tips and I’m following you back on FL!


  22. Linda @ it all started with paint says

    Uh oh. I’m here on a Friday night. Glass of wine by my side … and your talking HTML …

    So I’ll tell ya that I’m following you back and thanks for the nice comment on my blog!

    it all started with paint

  23. Sherry says

    Thanks so much…you actually addressed several of my questions! That’s great. I’ve bookmarked you so I can come back AND I’m linky following! I might try to squeeze in some time this weekend to play and see what I can do myself. Yay!

  24. Mary Sullivan Frasier says

    Hi! Thanks so much for following through LF. I’m here, happily following back! Excellent Blogger Tips! I’ll definitely be back to check out more.

    Have an awesome weekend!
    Mary from Go Ahead Take A Bite and Spilled On The Kitchen Table

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *