Poor Design Speaks Louder Than Words: A Lesson in Personal Branding

The average person browsing the web will give you somewhere in the region of 4 seconds to capture their interest before moving on. Does your blog’s design seize readers’ attention or does it send them running for the browser back button?

The best-designed blogs are personal, functional and have a unified look and feel. Read on to see if your blog has all the elements.


Uploading your own image header (if your theme allows it) is a great way to develop your unique personal brand and hook visitors. Is your header image effective? Ask yourself the following:

  • Is the image relevant to what I blog about?
  • Is the image easily recognizable?
  • Does the image help my blog stand out?
  • Does the image identify my blog?
  • Is it a good quality, hi-resolution photo?

Here are some examples for inspiration:

If you want to go all out with design customization, check out the Custom CSS Upgrade, which allows you to change the fonts, colors, borders, backgrounds, and even the layout of your blog. The downside: You need to know CSS to make these changes.

Here’s an example of the Custom CSS Upgrade in action:


You may have an awesome looking theme, but is it functional? Ask yourself: What’s the purpose of my blog? Does my theme have a number of columns that reflect that objective?

If you have a photoblog, it’s probably best to show off your images with a single-column theme. On the other hand, if you’re running a news blog or simply want to display multiple story excerpts at a time, try out a three-column or four-column theme. If you’re simply documenting your daily adventures, a two-column theme is the standard.

In terms of aesthetics, your theme should be visually engaging yet practical. Be sure to choose a design that doesn’t distract from the content or make it hard to see. If visitors are having trouble reading your blog, they won’t hang around, no matter how good your content is. So if you’re blogging for an audience, watch out for themes that have light text on dark backgrounds, garish graphics, or loud backgrounds.

Learn more about choosing a theme with our video tutorial on Choosing a Theme for Your Blog.


Remember to keep your blog’s overall look and feel consistent with the subject matter. This will help visitors to quickly determine if they’ve found what they’re looking for, and help you to develop a cohesive personal brand.

If you blog about business ethics, you should probably opt for a professional theme to help boost your credibility. On the other hand, if you blog about your pets, a fun, lighthearted theme with vibrant colors and the ability to add a custom header image is perfectly appropriate.

Keep in mind that virtually every part of your blog, from your font and photos to your widgets and header image, contributes to its tone and reflects your personal brand. So take advantage of the dozens of opportunities for creative expression to help you stand out and command attention in the blogosphere. Check out crabbyoldfart.wordpress.com for inspiration.

Want to learn more? Check out our lesson on blog customization at learn.wordpress.com.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Poor Design Speaks Louder Than Words: A Lesson in Personal Branding

  1. Sajib says:

    I just saw that you’ve already started blogging. 😀 😀 Anyway, once I used to think that three-columned themes are always the best fit for me. But lately I’ve realized that for a personal blog, two-columned theme works greater.

  2. I’d love to see the photographs, but the first three are not showing up as available.

  3. josh1340 says:

    Thanks for the informative post. Your blog is a great place to go for information on building a better blog. I often wonder about my layout, but I feel that if I change it now, it would make my blog look foreign to those who already read it (not many, but you know what I mean). Thanks again.

    • Erica Johnson says:

      Hi josh1340,

      Thanks! Your layout looks pretty good as it is, but if you’re interested in taking it to the next level, I wouldn’t worry about alienating your readers. A new design might actually grab readers’ attention and get them more engaged (not to mention attract new visitors). Don’t be afraid to get creative! 🙂

  4. Ana Raquel says:

    I’ll keep these tips in mind as I design my blog. Great job!

  5. Thanks for fixing the photo display and the great tips. I tried to change my header a few months ago and quite a few of my readers had a fit so I went back to the familiar. I’m still playing with the idea of change, but I can’t decide on a direction at this point.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s