What Great Blog Design Doesn’t Need

by on July 13, 2010 | posted in Marketing

What great design doesn’t need is images. If your website design is good, it still requires them, especially past a certain post length. However, for those posts that are of a medium size, if you still feel the need to pull an image, the design of your website is significantly lacking.

I am of the opinion that my blog design is “good”, but not great. My web designers were awesome, moderately affordable and etc, but for what I’m presently looking for, I’m now saying “whoops!”. I hate putting images on posts – it doesn’t feel real. It just feels like something that has to be done because the post feels too long. If I actually want an image that enhances the post like a graph or something else non-photographic, I have no problem including it, because its part of the process, and it’s something the post can’t live without.

However, when I have to go to Flickr and search for “money”, something inside me dies. Because it’s not something I want to happen, it’s something that has to happen based on the aesthetics of my blog.

This isn’t how it should be.

In an ideal world, we’d all have our own spiffy blog designs that enhanced the text we’d flaunt with frequency, but in reality, too much great design begets average design, which means that very probably, my great design would now desire images to catch up with the even better designs.

It’s a cycle. If I had the ability to create images myself and that was a part of who I was, I could more accurately reflect the text in my posts. But every image I have to half-ass throw on my blog posts to enhance the aesthetics, is one other thing I artificially created to make this post a little more appealing, and a little less like me.

Invest in great design. It’s beautiful. It’s gorgeous. It envelops the text, and it makes me want to bookmark you instead of use an RSS feed. I want great design. I’m jealous. I hate looking at your sappy images that have no real usage in the post.

I want text, I want ideas, but I want to read them in a way that’s aesthetically pleasing. Without the images – with the totality of appearance.

Some beautiful blog designs: Military Home Refinancing – http://www.MedicareSupplementalInsurance.com – kottke.org –  daring fireballSaline Solution – 43foldersSeth GodinBurial Insurance – infinitesummer.org37signals – and a tool for blog gorgeousness – Readability.

  • http://www.heroicdestiny.com David Crandall

    Well, I have to say that I disagree with this post, at least partially. We’ve all got different tastes and different things that speak to us. I personally don’t like the design of any of the blogs you listed and only read them in my RSS reader because of it. For a truly gorgeous site that omits images, I do like http://www.thelaunchcoach.com.

    Some of us are just wired to be visual learners. True, there are often images that are just half-assed and don’t really relate to the post. However, for me as a visual learner, I tend to remember things with an image attached to it. When I remember elements of your multi-blogger interview, it helps to remember the mosaic of faces you created for that post. Seth Godin’s stuff, as amazing as it is, is harder for me to remember unless I write it down…in which case, I tend to remember how the actual page looked I wrote it on.

    Images, text, or a hybrid are all personal choices. For me, I prefer to include pictures with my posts. Even if no one else cares, it’s still my blog and my art. I wouldn’t want to do text only; being 100% utilitarian does not suit me.

    • Ross Hudgens

      David, please note that I note a difference between “good” and “great”. Sometimes, images enhance a post like said mosaic of bloggers. But when I do it just because the post is too long and not because it I have to have the image to enhance the post, I’m doing it for the wrong reasons. My guideline for a good image is that I think of the exact specifications of the image during the post, and I can find it/create it immediately. Sometimes, that’s the only point of having an image.

      I can agree that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as I don’t necessarily love the design you offer, although I do think it’s “good”. I am not saying having an image makes the design shitty, I am saying it merely does not make it “great”.

  • http://www.heroicdestiny.com David Crandall

    I can agree with there being differences between “good” and “great” and also that beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder.

    I can appreciate your opinions without having to agree 100% with them because I do think you are a really stand up guy and I like what you are doing overall. Even if you you DID think my design was pure shit, you’ve still always been very encouraging to me specifically and for that I am very grateful.

    The truth is, as much as I didn’t want it to, your post has had me thinking about my design and if it is something I am 100% happy with. I’ve not reached a conclusion yet so I don’t have a complete response to how it’s made me think. Bah!

    Though I am glad that you DON’T think it is shit. :)

    Keep doing what you’re doing man, you know I’m a huge Ross fan!!!!

    • Ross Hudgens

      Because we have more choices, we’re unhappy. Blah blah blah. I don’t think I’ll ever be completely happy with my design, either. But good design is enough, generally. You’ve already escaped the template lifestyle in design form, so I think you’re fine – design is holding you back. Me, neither. That’s really all we should really be concerned about, whether or not the design is harsh enough to actually impair progress.

  • http://www.joepicksawinner.com Joe

    From the viewpoint of a web designer, surely I have no problem with images on a site or blog. The web is multimedia like no other, after all, you might as well take advantage. I’m not suggesting imagery inappropriate to your blog site or post, and I agree and understand your differentiation between good and great. However, Ross, I’d like to see some images on your blog, if only to take up some space to narrow your text column. It’s way too wide for good readability, and I keep losing my place when I get to the end of a line, unlike reading a newspaper’s narrow columns. :-( Besides, mostly text designs are hard on the eyes and interest wanes sooner. I’ve heard of people curling up with a good book, but never with blogs on computer monitors! :-)

    • Ross Hudgens

      Joe, that’s my point. I like to see images to – when the design isn’t sufficient enough to carry the post without it. It’s not that I don’t still like these blogs and read them – I do. It’s just not always part of a good post.

      Good point on how you’re losing your place though, I’ll look into finding ways to alleviate that (like adding more images I don’t want to).

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