Make Your Fashion Blog Visually Pretty, Clean & User Friendly
When I go to other people’s fashion blogs to check them out, share some love, and see what other people are up to, one of the first things I notice before I get to the content is… the layout. I’m sure it’s not just me who does this, but whenever I come across a blog with a layout that looks gorgeous, I just have to comment on it and it makes my reading experience that much better! There’s nothing worse than not knowing what the latest blog post is, where to click, how to even navigate to the posts, or read what the text is saying when it’s against a glaring background.
These are just some issues that fashion blogs can have and I wanted to do a blogging advice post in my series about how to make your blog visually appealing and practical. You work hard on your content so it should be displayed in all its glory, right? Here are some tips of mine that I have picked up along the 9 years of my blogging journey on various different websites, but they also come from my perfectionist streak and a few minor issues with neatness, but in my opinion, they really do nothing but help you in every way possible, so it’s important to at least read them.
Choose The Right Theme/Template
The first and most important part of getting the right template or theme for your fashion blog is choosing the right template/theme to showcase it. Now this depends entirely on what your content might be and your personality, but you need to choose one that’s easy to use, minimal, and functional. I used to scour the internet for days looking for themes to use and now I go nowhere else but Pipdig (this isn’t sponsored by Pipdig). The themes there are absolutely perfect and so easy to use, you wonder what you were doing without them in the first place. They do both Blogger and WordPress themes, so you won’t miss out. If you’re more into a personal way of blogging, then choose one that suits your personality, or if you’re into reporting on trends like a magazine, choose a simple and classic black and white layout. Your template/theme is the base of your blog (of course you can customize them to how you want) so choosing the right one is key to displaying your content in all its glory! Some tips to look for when choosing one:
- Does it have a custom header and personalisation options?
- Take the size of the content and sidebar columns into consideration.
- Can you make your own navigational menu?
- Can you display your social media and image widgets in the sidebar?
- A slider is something you might want to consider for promoting your best work.
- Is this theme optimized for SEO purposes?
- Does it match your blogs voice/content and your personality?
- Most importantly, is it easy to use and navigate as a reader and as an owner?
All of these points above are important and they make part of checklist to ensuring you are getting the right theme. If you’re a hobby blogger, you can just choose a free option from the WordPress or Blogger list that they have ready available and more often than not, the WordPress 2015/2016/2017 layouts are optimized for all of those options already, but they are hard to customize unless you know what you’re doing. If you are a business blogger and you are self hosted, it’s worth investing in a paid for theme like the ones on Pipdig as they meet all of a fashion bloggers criteria! I often see lots of bloggers using their themes. There’s nothing worse than getting a new theme and not knowing how to use it because it’s coded in a complicated and unusable way. That’s happened to me before!
Visually Appealing Layout/Theme
Now you have your theme, you need to think about making the layout as visually appealing as possible. If you’re a fashion blogger, a simple text logo for your header often works best, followed by a slider of your best work, then your content below. You want to think about making sure your blog posts are the focal point, so a clean white background with black text is often the choice. Vivaluxury (above) is a great example of how clean and pretty a great layout can be in black and white, but if you do want to make things more personal, Wish Wish Wish does a good job with muted pink (see here). Some things to look for when creating your layout:
- Show off your best posts in your slider – nice and visible at the top.
- Make sure your logo is not too big or too small, you want to see content above the fold too.
- Don’t display ads in ugly places.
- Keep the text black on a white or muted pale coloured background so it’s easy to read.
- Have your social media links in an easy to find place, along with the search bar.
- Along with SEO reasons, excerpts and previews of blog posts are best for easy navigation.
- Make sure everything is neat, centered where it needs to be, and clear.
- Instagram feeds along the footer are often highly clicked and they look pretty.
- Make sure your images fill out the full width of the content column.
- Have clear headings, paragraphs, and structure to your blog posts.
So the general rule of thumb here is to make sure your personality shows through in your layout, but to make it easy to use and set out well. You can either display your content on the left or right with the sidebar on the opposite side, but I don’t recommend two sidebars as that really starts to impact your content column. I choose to personally have my sidebar on post pages only and not on the homepage so that my homepage is really easy to navigate and use, but a lot of people choose to have it on their homepage – it’s a matter of personal preference. As long as your theme looks clean, pretty, well structured, and displays your content nicely in full size for your column width, you’re good to go!
High Quality Photos
Since us fashion bloggers work so hard on our images, isn’t it best to make sure they are the best they can be? I started out with just a simple point and shoot digital camera about 7-8 years ago, and would sometimes even use my phone, so the quality of the photos wasn’t great at all. As time went on, we switched to a DSLR Nikon and then upgraded twice, currently using a Nikon D610 with an 85mm Prime lens. The photos that this camera produces (shot in raw) are amazing. The detail and quality that shows up is incredible and it really helps that I now use retina images on a retina screen.
If you have a Apple MacBook from the last 2 years or you have an iPad or iPhone, you will have a retina screen. Since I am an Apple user, I’m not sure which windows or android items have retina, but I’m sure some of them do. If you’re not familiar with the term, it means your screen is made up of more pixels, which means it displays more of the image, meaning that lower quality photos look really grainy and fuzzy. One way to combat this is by making your images retina ready. I wasn’t sure how to do this at first, but it’s easy and all you have to do is make your photo double the size of your content column so that it shrinks to fit. As an example, my content column is 750 pixels wide, so my images are 1500 pixels wide. They shrink down to fit into the column, but the quality of the photo is increased because the retina screen picks up more of the detail. So I recommend definitely making your photos retina ready as that’s the way the future is headed. I know a lot of the top bloggers do, but many still don’t. An example is my Celine bag above, if you use a retina laptop, you will be able to see every grain of the leather in detail.
I could actually make a whole blog post dedicated to photo quality and having them visually appealing, and maybe I will at a later date, but the best advice I can give you is to invest in a great camera for your photos if you want them to look professional. Make your images retina ready. Edit them in Photoshop so that the colours and sharpness etc can be improved, making them even prettier, and having good angles. Obviously the photo subject is up to you entirely, but blurry, dark, badly lit, grainy, fuzzy, dull photos are a huge turn off for most people. Make sure they are pretty, high quality, well lit, clear, realistic pictures. It might take extra time, but it’s worth it, especially if you are blogging as your career, trust me. Flattering angles are just as important too, don’t forget that.
Easy To Navigate
I’ve included a screen shot of my footer area of my blog, as well as the menu as it’s a sticky, so it stays at the top of the blog no matter where you are on the website. Having a clear, well set out navigational menu bar is key. How many times have you been a fashion blog and you can’t find the search box, the social icons, or even a certain category? I have numerous times and it’s unhelpful for where I’m trying to go or what I am trying to find. In fact, it puts me off to be quite honest.
A huge piece of advice is to make sure you have your navigation menu at the top of your blog (or under the header) and it needs self explanatory names of your sections. Things to include would be: Home Page, About Page, and Contact Page as the three must haves in there. You then need your other categories which relate to your blog. Outfits, Health, Beauty, Fitness, Fashion, Shoes, Bags etc are all important, especially if you blog about these quite regularly. People want to be able to go to that specific section to find things.
I put my general categories in my menu bar and then I also include images with text on them in my sidebar so that people can click through to sub categories. I have one for bags, shoes, costumes, asking questions etc. so it’s a great way to make sure it’s even easier to navigate. I have my Instagram feed in my footer with my social media accounts numbers above it, plus a work with me page, and an about me page, both at the bottom in case people have navigated that far down. I also include my popular or top posts (either in the sidebar or where your layout allows it) and I have drop down boxes for all of my categories and archives. That’s just what I do, but a lot of other fashion bloggers do the same thing and it’s extremely important to make the user experience on your blog as easy as possible. Make sure everything is visible and that the search is easy to find. Keeping it in your menu bar or at the top of your blog somewhere is ideal. Also, include a little text bio about yourself to help readers familiarize themselves with you straight away, that’s always a nice extra touch.
No Overlapping Issues, Flashing Emojis or Bright Backgrounds
I almost didn’t want to include these 2 images above as they send me insane when I look at them, but in order to share with you how important the layout and making it visually appealing is, I had to. I am not trying to condemn the owners of these sites, but they are living proof of how the layout and theme can affect your blog tremendously. They don’t need much explaining as they speak for themselves, but I will say what my views on them are.
Having a bright or pictured background is really annoying when you’re trying to read text. The left one shows that you have no idea what you’re reading as the text blends in with the background, which doesn’t even fit on the whole page. You can’t distinguish between posts, banners, images, and ads as they are all mixed in together, and the fact that the text overlaps lines and borders is highly annoying. The one on the right isn’t as bad, but the glaring colours and lack of respect to stay within borders, as well as tell what is a new post and what isn’t, is highly obvious. You should keep these tips in mind:
- Avoid bright, glaring, eye searing colours and heavily detailed backgrounds.
- Stay away from flashing emojis and big sparkly pop ups.
- Don’t have overlapping text and images which fall into borders.
- Have your content column away from ads and other visuals so it’s clear that it’s content.
I hate going to a website that has flashing things all over the place like it was written by a 10 year old girl (if you are that age, it’s fine) and when the images don’t fit into the content column, that bugs me too. Sometimes images have been so large they are outside of the column by over 70% and you have to scroll left or right to view them all, which doesn’t work as they’re just too big to even understand what the photo is actually about. When text goes outside the borders and off into no man’s land too, that’s hard to read. Keep things neat, clean, easy to read, and well structured. You don’t want people being put off immediately upon landing on your blog, you need to keep them interested.
So, those are my tips on getting your fashion blog to look mature, professional, clean, clear, visually pretty, and practical, all at the same time. You obviously want to avoid spelling mistakes and grammatical errors as much as possible as too many of those can make your blog look unprofessional, but as long as you have a fantastic looking layout and theme, and you take care with your photos and post structure, any small errors that crop up now and again will easily be forgotten. Do you have any other tips you’d like to offer? I would love your advice on this subject too!