If content is king, then blogs (and news sites) are its diplomatic corps — the means content distributes itself throughout the world.
Most web designers end up designing a blog at some point in their career, even if only for their personal sites. And while it might seem like your design options are limited — list or grid — these 7 sites show that there remain a wealth of tricks and techniques you can try to make your blog more engaging, easier to read, or just bigger, bolder, and more powerful.
Here, in no particular order, are 7 of my favorite blog designs.
1. A List Apart
As soon as A List Apart loads, you know you’ve found a unique blog. Rather than set their logo left, center, or even to the right, A List Apart spans the screen, relying on the bottom half of the letters to make the site title clear enough.
Below a full-width featured story, the layout consists of a simple list, but does away with the standard thumbnail image, keeping you focused on the text. The typography achieves a nice balance between the bold sans-serif headline, delicately set metadata, and a summary of varying length. (One of the advantages of a list design: no need to worry about keeping your summaries to the same length.)
The feed design also takes an interesting risk, highlighting a popular reader comment just below one of the top stories. It’s not often you’ll see a blog’s homepage sacrificing so much real estate to a comment!
On the blog’s index page, a narrow sidebar calls out content from the latest issue, as well as recent columnists’ posts. The latter section highlights the author with a headshot, reinforcing the value of a column as a source of ongoing insights from a respected individual.
When you load up Nautilus, you’re presented with a full-screen image reminiscent of a magazine’s cover — which makes sense, given that this is an online magazine. You’re also given a choice: click “SEE FULL ISSUE” to dive into an index of the current issue, or scroll down to see content from the current chapter of the issue. (Nautilus’ issues are long-running explorations of a topic divvied up into chapters with a regular release cadence.)
And while the issue’s index page is beautiful, it’s the chapter’s index that I really love. Here you see a tidy grid of featured stories with a mix of photos and beautiful illustrations. But the star of the show is the typography: Freight Sans, Display, and Text thoughtfully combined to let each style play to its strengths.
3. The Atavist Magazine
The Atavist Magazine’s homepage presents a grid of stories with a nice balance between image and text. Short, evocative titles are set in all caps over equally evocative images, effectively setting the tone for each story. Individual stories feature flexible layouts that allow either massive images or big, bold text steal the show.
4. The Great Discontent
The Great Discontent does one thing very well: interviews with creative people. So it makes sense that their homepage is dominated by massive images that put the focus on human beings. Interspersed among the portraits you’ll find insightful quotes from featured interviewees, teasing you to dig deeper and see what else these people have to say.
In individual posts, large, responsive type keeps you immersed in the story, while grid-breaking photos and blockquotes work as mileposts, providing the same sense of accomplishment and completion as the end of a chapter in a book.
But then, you can’t help but read on …
Beyond the massive, beautiful images and the wealth of things to click on, what really gets me about Fubiz is its personalization.
Fubiz makes it clear that they want you to take part in curating its content, making the site your own. How? By offering several options for you to affect what stories you see. First, there’s the “Creativity Finder,” which lets you define who you are, where you live, and what content you’re looking for through a Mad Libs–style form.
Further down the page, you get a chance to see what’s trending in another cosmopolitan city, so you can see what’s inspiring people from Tokyo to San Francisco.
This Italian art and design blog lets the latest stories dominate its full width, but makes related articles easily accessible through a category-based global navigation on the index, and a dedicated metadata section at the top of each story.
Within individual stories, short paragraphs of large-set text keep you focused on the content, with beautiful photos and embedded videos providing moments of rest.
7. The New Yorker
The New Yorker translates to the modern web in a way that makes the most of both a powerful brand and the versatility of the web as a communication medium.
The New Yorker is all about intelligent reads, so most articles consists of long passages of text devoid of distractions beyond well-spaced ads. If you start to scroll up while reading, a modal pops up, inviting you to email yourself a link to the article to finish reading later. Not necessary for more tech-savvy readers, but handy for those who haven’t delved deep into cross-platforming.
The New Yorker makes the most of all the ways you can slice and dice content by offering all kinds of paths in to stories. You can choose from the stories their editors have highlighted, pick the latest from popular contributors, or see what other people are liking.
You can even click through a gallery of cartoons, if that’s your jam.
What are your favorite blog designs?
These are just a few of my faves, and I purposefully stayed away from design-focused blogs. If you’ve got some you’d love to share, let’s hear about ‘em on Twitter.