Let’s Talk: Blogger to Blogger | Blog Design


Let’s Talk: Blogger to Blogger is a discussion feature that is aimed and dedicated to bloggers. In which we discuss and debate topics from around the blogging community and inspire others.

For a full list of topics, visit the archive. If you have a topic for discussion let me know!


Welcome Back!

I have been debating on what my “first” topic should be ever since I hit publish on the intro post. I feel like I have so many things to say about so many different topics, but when pen goes to paper, err, fingers to keyboard, I freeze up.

After talking with Jessica on twitter about it, I decided to go with a simple topic: Blog design. I feel the obligatory statement of, “I am in no way pointing out how you should do things, blah blah blah” because, well, I’m not. But these are my opinions and I am not an expert. Just opinionated.

I have written and re-written this post so many times, I lost count. Each time, it comes off as one of those “HOW TO” posts that we all know and love, which is not my intention so I went with a more confessions type post.


I have changed my theme AT LEAST 6 times in my 2 1/2 years of blogging. And that’s just this blog. This does not include “blog buttons” fonts and colors. This is why I am so scared to invest the money and have a designed made just for me. It could be that I haven’t found the ONE for me, or it could be my weird habit of wanting to change things that comes into play. I think it’s OKAY to experiment with several designs, themes and such to find what will fit YOU best. Change things up and find the RIGHT ONE.

I think your design/layout is big HUGE DEAL. Not only should it be easy to navigate and easy on the eyes, it speaks a lot about your taste and personality and it should fit YOU and what you post about. It’s weird seeing a dark, witchy theme but the only reviews I can find are fluffy contemporary young adult. It doesn’t FIT.

This sits close to don’t judge a book by its cover. We don’t WANT to, because the content is what matters.. However, it doesn’t always work that way.


There have been several blogs that I have either a) un-followed, b) only visit here and there, c) didn’t bother TO follow because I cannot for the life of me, stand to look at their blog. Either because of the design, layout or because I can never FIND anything. Harsh, but true.

We all have different tastes and I love seeing so many different designs and creativity out there. But at the same time? Your design and layout is literally the FACE of your blog and is YOUR brand. If I, as a follower, can’t navigate it because it’s so cluttered you can’t FIND social media links between all the banners, find an about me page on your menu or if I have to scroll and scroll and scroll because your sidebars are LONG and NEVER ENDING, it’s frustrating. And if it’s PAINFUL to read? Forget it.

A few of my peeves –

  1. Black background white text. I love the look, I do. (I even TRIED IT.) But my eyes? Not so much. It HURTS.
  2. Very small font. Like, 6-8 point. (I’ve SEEN IT! Barely..)
  3. Very light font that is hard to read on a white background (highlight text to read.. You’ll need to)
  4. Flashy banners/count down widgets – I don’t know why but these are irritating to look at and clog up sidebars.
  5. Too many banners and/or buttons on sidebars and footer menus
  7. Hard to navigate menus – I am a menu person. Sub-menus are your friends.
  8. Non-collapsible archive or tags – I am not a tag person. I don’t search a blog by tag, EVER, and they typically made your side bars longer (and cluttered) than they need to be.
  9. Scrolling images – this is mainly for those that are NOT mobile device friendly blogs
  10. MUSIC. Just, no

Again, just my opinions here.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m guilty of doing a few of these things, too. But there is such a thing as TOO MUCH, friends.. There are so many things that you just don’t “need” on your side bar, footer menus etc.. If it something you feel you MUST show, create a page for it, maybe? It can be overwhelming for your readers. Also, change is okay. It’s okay to take down those reading challenges buttons from last year and 2013. It’s okay to remove those blog buttons that are no longer active from your blog roll.


Let’s Talk

  1. What are your design/layout peeves?
  2. Have you un-followed or NOT followed due to a layout/design?
  3. Was there anything mentioned that you do/use? Tell me about them! 
  4. Have you changed your design/layout? Why or why not?

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39 thoughts on “Let’s Talk: Blogger to Blogger | Blog Design

  1. Silvara

    I tend to avoid blogs with lots of moving graphics/text. It can set off my vertigo, so if most of the sidebar is filled with busy flashing things, I’ll just close the tab and move on. Surprisingly, dark backgrounds with light text don’t bother me. I can actually read Longer on sites like that than on ones with white backgrounds and dark text. No idea why.

    If the font is too small, I don’t bother reading the posts even if it is a discussion topic I’d love to read/comment on. Too hard on my eyes and gives me a headache.

    I’ve only been blogging for 8 months or so, but I’ve changed my blog design twice, and the colors 3-4 times. I think I like what I have currently though, and haven’t had any complaints so I’m guessing there are no bad issues!
    Silvara recently posted…Fantasy Creature Friday – Troll!My Profile

    1. tonyalee

      I’ve noticed that I don’t see AS MUCH flashy as I used to. That was a thing for a long time, though.

      I love the blue on your blog! The two go great together!

  2. Krystianna

    I definitely agree with you! I HATE it when there are super dark backgrounds, like black, with white writing. It gets even worse when the blog has a black background but neon writing! It’s near impossible to read and it hurts my eyes. At that point I figure that it’s not worth the effort to even try reading any of the posts, so I refuse to subscribe and follow. I prefer blogs with light backgrounds and dark font, because that’s easy to read. I also hate cluttered sidebars! It gets me all distracted. I have changed my blog design tons since I joined as well, so I definitely understand you! I’ve considered buying a professional one made for me but I’m always worried that I will get bored of it and then I’ll have to buy another. Great discussion, Lily! 😀

    1. tonyalee

      Oh the NEON WRITING. I *Completely* forgot about the neon!

      I have paid for 3 themes – not to expensive.

  3. Aimee @ Deadly Darlings

    I completely agree with you! Especially with hard to read blogs. I can deal with the messy sidebar as long as I’m not looking at it, but how can I read your content if the fonts and colors hurt my eyes? Other than extremely small fonts, I hate extremely big ones as well. They make my eyes pop out of my head! And I LOVE sub-menus.
    Another pet peeve of mine is when the blog doesn’t have a search bar. Even if you have a billion sub-menus, I could really use your search bar if there’s something specific I’m looking for.
    Aimee @ Deadly Darlings recently posted…Excerpt + Giveaway: Hold Me Like a Breath by Tiffany SchmidtMy Profile

    1. tonyalee

      It’s hard for me to NOT look at! my eyes just wander over and I can’t concentrate on the post. It’s the oddest thing. Yes, big font was another one but only if it’s the body font. I use my h1 h2 a lot so, it’s not AS bothersome

  4. Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight

    Okay, music HAS to be the worst offender ever. First, it scares the hell out of me, especially when it is late at night and I am a little tired and confused to begin with haha. And then it is just annoying! I promise, if I want to listen to a song, I will find it on my own. And I also promise I will NEVER want to find weird beach noises (seriously, what IS that!?)

    I am in the process of getting a paid design (well, I think- it was supposed to be done in late March/early April and well… you see my conundrum). Actually, the reason I wanted one was mainly because of your point about the overly dark blog- I HATE how blah and dark mine is, but I haven’t been able to get it right on my own. So pay I shall (you know… maybe?)

    Totally agree with the super small font, though super BIG font can also be really annoying. Moderation is our friend. And I don’t mind a crowded sidebar (hey, it’s your page!) BUT I do mind a long one, like you said, because it never ends! How do I get to the “next page” button when there’s three days worth of scrolling to do?! Answer: I won’t. And search features are also your friend. Blogs without search bars kill me, because I just want to find your stuff!

    LOVE this post, because I agree with ALL the things! 😀
    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight recently posted…My Blogging PrerequisitesMy Profile

    1. tonyalee

      Yes, music is!! My husband has this habit of leaving the volume up SO HIGH.

      I don’t think your blog is too dark! And why isn’t it done yet!?

  5. Alyssa

    Let’s start off by saying your design is beautiful, so no worries on that. *whispers* I actually used to have white-on-black text, before realising it was a pain to read and changing it. Music is definitely the worst, especially when I have no idea which tab it’s blaring from and/or can’t turn it off. Just, no.

    Another one of my pet peeves is the type of widget that shivers up and down. I cannot read a single thing and all it does is make me look away from the widget. I’ve seen people enable this for entire posts. *shivers*
    Alyssa recently posted…Survey results // Blog Awards and TagsMy Profile

    1. tonyalee

      Aw, thank you! xo

      I tried the black background/white font and it just killed my eyes. My other blog is about as dark as I could go without being in pain!

  6. Kim @ kimberlyfaye reads

    I swear, it’s like you’re in my brain sometimes. There are blogs whose content I actually liked, but just CAN’T visit because of their layout. It might be that the page has too much “crap” on it and takes forever to load or because the background is an offensive (to my eyes) color. Thankfully I don’t come across many that have the autoplay music, because THAT is one of the things that just makes me click the x on the tab immediately. Of course, I work in graphic design, so I’m a judgey person, so bad (pixelated) headers and poorly-made banners make me twitchy. Sometimes I can overlook them. Sometimes I can’t. Especially if, like, the text doesn’t fit inside the shape and letters are cut off. *eye twitch*
    Kim @ kimberlyfaye reads recently posted…Stacking the Shelves [93]My Profile

    1. tonyalee

      Yes, there are many who I talked to on social media or email and visit because we are friends, but it’s SO HARD.

      This is why I haven’t created my OWN images because i totally suck at it LOL

  7. Suzi Q, The Book Dame

    I feel ya’. I have changed my blog design. What is visually appealing to me isn’t always what shows my personality. I had the retro thing going for a bit. It looks great, it really did, and I hesitated to change it because of all the compliments, but truth be told, it wasn’t me at all. It wasn’t like I was reviewing classics. I sat back and thought out what would reflect my personality.
    While I find that staying true to doing whatever you want, (hey, it’s your blog, right?) is most important, it doesn’t mean that I want to visit. I use a gif (as in one) on the rare occasion that it just fits, but I am bothered by gif overload. It is just distracting.
    Several years ago, when Catching Fire was about to be released, a lot of bloggers added the flashy countdown. I hated it! It had sound effects and it slowed the load time to a crawl.
    Great post.
    Suzi Q, The Book Dame recently posted…Kindle Kandy No. 1My Profile

    1. tonyalee

      I don’t think my design shows all of my personality – because I am pretty weird and crazy and all over the place! LOL

      YES, gif overload. If it’s once in awhile, I don’t mind it but a blog that is notorious for it? EH

  8. Jessica@Lovin' Los Libros

    This is such a great first topic chica! You rocked it. 🙂 I agree- I think blog design is so important. I’ve really been itching to change mine up, but I worked so hard to tweak and get the right colors and then using html… *shudder*. It scares me. But I definitely want my blog to be aesthetically pleasing! I’m glad you said that about side bars. I have some things I’ve been meaning to go in and delete, because they don’t really serve much of a purpose anymore. And OMG- Search bars… everyone in the world should have them.

    One of my big things is when I can’t look at archived posts. That is one thing I personally like to see listed on blogs by month. I don’t much care for only seeing a couple and then having to scroll back through a bunch of posts to find things I’ve missed. I also need a home button, so I can go back to the most recent post.

    I don’t like blogs with TOO MUCH either because it bogs it down and takes forever for my stupid computer to load it all.
    Jessica@Lovin’ Los Libros recently posted…Stacking the Shelves #113+Weekly Wrap-UpMy Profile

    1. tonyalee

      I don’t use much html – because the theme I have is SO customized. I think your sidebars LOOK longer because you also have full posts on your home page and not excerpts. But that’s just me.

      I didn’t feel the need to put search bar -because isn’t that better basic?! LOL I like archived posts, but I like them MORE when I can collapse them. I don’t have a home button, but if you click on my blog name, that takes you “home” most are set up that way

  9. Elizabeth Bogardus

    I have wonky eyes, so the font color and size are a big deal. I don’t follow any that are too cursive like, too light or too small, and if I am clicking through a mr. linky and come across one I give it one paragraph to see if I can read it and them I leave if it’s too much work.
    I recently switched from blogger to WP and got rid of 1 side bar, making things a lot cleaner and really focusing on navigation. I didn’t go for any special buttons or banners yet, because I wasn’t sure what I would do regarding colors and fonts. I’m going to make changes every month or so until I find what I like. Then I can get a button and banner.
    Elizabeth Bogardus recently posted…Weekly Wrap Up 5/16My Profile

    1. tonyalee

      Yes, the tiny fancy script bugs me too. It’s okay if the font is large enough, but they are SO hard to read!

      I had two sidebars with my other theme – and while it wasn’t TOO cluttered, it was busy.

  10. Corinna

    Your blog design looks great! I like clean space and the white background does a lot to brighten up the site. Music on a blog just reminds me of Myspace and seems completely outdated. Since I usually have my computer muted at all times, it doesn’t impact me but I noticed it can reduce the speed to a snail’s pace.
    Corinna recently posted…Rachel & Sean’s Palos Verdes E-ShootMy Profile

    1. tonyalee

      Aw, thank you! 🙂

      Ugh, Myspace. I didn’t have one long but I remember all the music!!I have my laptop on mute – but my husband is notorious for leaving the volume SO high on our shared desktop.

  11. Faye M.

    Agree with all of these so much! My blog design used to be cluttered (not really with graphics or whatnot because I am not a fan of that at all, but I just didn’t think I placed my stuff well, resulting to a layout that felt “trapped”) so that’s why I paid for a better, flexible design that looked more professional than my previous one, and looking at it now makes me feel more relaxed and makes me more motivated to blog even more! I can’t stand designs that have weird color palettes, or having flashy colors on a black background. It’s just my opinion, though – I see something like that and I get out ASAP.

    Music is another one that I can barely stand, and it’s such a relief that I rarely see this (only on Tumblr blogs, strangely). I don’t mind ads as long as it’s not “in-your-face” like pop-ups, or the ones where you need to click LIKE before getting to the content.

    My pet peeve would probably very small fonts, as in the type you need a magnifying glass to read. I keep zooming my browser to even feel like reading the content.
    Faye M. recently posted…Review + PH Giveaway: Vanishing Girls by Lauren OliverMy Profile

    1. tonyalee

      I agree about the professional look. I love a design that is simple, elegant and clean. Doesn’t mean that works for everyone, but……

      My font is at THAT POINT when it comes to size. Any smaller and I would be a hypocrite LOL

  12. Trish @ Between My Lines

    All of these! I’m such a fan of less is more when it comes to blog design and sidebars. There was one blog whose reviews I liked but I stopped following the blog as it was insanely slow to load because the sidebar had a million widgets. And I’m only slightly exaggerating.
    Tiny font is another pet hate but I think that’s because I’m old!
    Trish @ Between My Lines recently posted…Book Review : My Sunshine Away by M O WalshMy Profile

    1. tonyalee

      I have become that way too! I remember when I first started blogging, I had SO MUCH stuff on my sidebars.

  13. Lola

    I haven’t made any big changes to my design since I sarted blogging. I changed all individual elements once or twice, but the overal feel and colour scheme has stayed the same. When I switched to wordpress I got a new theme, but my design still looked mostly the same. I recently got a new banner, but it still has the same feel and colour as the old banner, just better.
    I also think that design is a big deal I can’t stand light text on dark background design and almost missed some great blogs because of that. I frequent comment on a blog with a design like that now, but it still makes my eye shurt every time. I also associate a design with a blog especially thsoe I visit frequently and with new blogs I often make assumptions about the content form their design. I agree with all ten of the things you mentioned, I even changed my categories into a collapsing design when I got too many as my sidebar got too long. My sidebar is still a bit on the logn side, but I want to display my reading challenges and all my tour banners, which takes up a lot of space. I also made my font a bit larger a few months ago as it made it easier to read. I think your design should make your content easy to read and not have too many distracting things. I also hate those auto-play music on blogs, luckily there aren’t many who do that nowadays and I have my music volume off most of the time, but I know a few of those blogs gave me a scare with their auto-plays.
    Great post! Looking forward to your next blogger to blogger post!
    Lola recently posted…Lola’s Kitchen: Fried Rice RecipeMy Profile

    1. tonyalee

      I noticed that have never changed your layout! I like the green 😀

      I make assumptions all the time. It isn’t fair, per se, but at the same time, I think of it as my first impression.

      Tour Banners and challenges DO take up a lot of space. I used to show all of mine as well.

  14. Danielle @ Love at First Page

    I feel the same way! If the blog design… sucks… there’s a good chance I won’t visit the blog again. Have you noticed there are now VIDEO ads?? And when you click “close” it takes you to the top of the page. Oh my God drives me nuts. I also don’t like too much clutter – whether that’s on the sidebar or too many banners or whatever. One of my small pet peeves is when they don’t have easily located links to their Twitter page – I almost always look for that first thing when I’m visiting a blog for the first time.
    Danielle @ Love at First Page recently posted…ARC Reviews: Falling for His Best Friend & The Marriage ContractMy Profile

    1. tonyalee

      I have seen a few video ads, but luckily not many. I have ad block on my home computer, so I don’t see ads anyway. (different when I am on my laptop)

      Yes, social media icons are HUGE. It’s not often you don’t find them now a days though

  15. Valerie

    Yes I think the same thing! Honestly I don’t mind what a that individual blogger does with their blog, because it’s their blog, but I always get excited when there’s a new blog design! I myself want to switch to wordpress and self host and get my own layout, but that requires money. I’m very content with my blog right now, so I’m just waiting until…later, I guess. For me, as long as the blog is readable and nice to look at, I’ll most likely follow it!

    1. tonyalee

      Of course, it’s their blog and they choose what to do. It’s not that. It’s just personally, as a reader of blogs, I feel like the blog shouldn’t be too cluttered OR hard to read.

      I love WordPress! I recommend Ashley from NoseGraze with ANYTHING.

    1. tonyalee

      Yes, I know you have. It’s a tough decision to make. I want a new background, something with (obviously) flowers. But I know I will want ot change it. If I was better at doing it myself, that would be different! LOL

      Yes, clutter is blergh!

  16. Laurel-Rain Snow

    I like to change up my blogs a lot, too, so I will not be paying to have a design created for me…LOL.

    I hate blogs that load slowly…and the music! Wow, glad I’m not the only one bugged by that! It always seems to come out of nowhere….
    Laurel-Rain Snow recently posted…AUTHOR’S HOME PAGEMy Profile

    1. tonyalee

      I just want an image for my background. LOL but I will probably fall out of love with it and yeah. Don’t want to spend the money on it.

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