This post is part of Blogging Week on Nothin' Fancy. Really.
1 - My first piece of advice is to go for a clean design. Personally, I dislike seeing busy designs where the background and banner deter from the posts themselves. I like a nice, light background, preferably white or pastel, dark text and a really interesting banner which stands out.
2 - Make your photos big. Photos are one of the two key parts of your blog along with the text, and personally, nothing turns me off from a blog more than tiny photos. You spent your time on them, you're proud of them, so show them in all their glory!
3 - Don't use too many fonts. It's good to stick to two or three main ones, because if you use a lot of different ones, it will all become jumbled and confusing. Stick to one for your posts and one for your titles. Make sure the fonts are easy to read.
4 - Use tags to your advantage. Tags are really useful for readers of your blog, because by clicking on them, they will instantly be taken to all of the posts you've tagged with that keyword. Don't use too many, but keep it varied and interesting and don't forget to tag all of your posts.
5. Add gadgets and pages. The ones I really think you need are search, GFC followers and an about page. An archive is also great! This helps readers of your blog navigate the site and makes it easier to follow. If you use Bloglovin', I would strongly recommend adding their button because it's many people's preferred choice of following blogs.
Tips when buying a design
2 - If you're going for a custom design, do your research when finding a designer. I've worked with Leanne on both of my blogs and I couldn't be happier with what she has done with both of them, so I'd warmly recommend her. Brittany also makes lovely templates, and Baggle is super popular with beauty bloggers.
3 - Create an inspiration board for your design. I made one on Pinterest, you can see it here. Definitely show it to your designer as well, or take it into consideration when you're choosing a premade template. I pin everything from colours to textures I like, fonts, ideas, photography I like ...
Tips when doing design yourself
2 - Turn off 'Auto-Enhancing' in Blogger. If you use Google Plus, go to your settings and search for the aforementioned term, then disable it. This is supposed to make your photos prettier, but actually messes it up most of the time, at least for me!
3 - Make sure everyhing works and looks good. If you're not too familiar with HTML, ask someone for help. Check your blog on a tablet or mobile as well to make sure everything looks good. Fix broken links and make sure to fill out your pages so they don't stay empty!
Those are all of my tips! In general, I would strongly encourage you to get an inexpensive premade Blogger template when you're starting out. It will really make a world of difference, and those $25 you'll be spending really aren't that much if you want to commit to blogging. I recently launched another blog and I got a premade template instead of a custom design, because I'm not sure how committed I'll be to it! I really hope this was helpful and apologize for not including more design DIY tips - I like to leave it to the professionals!
What kind of blog designs do you like?