How much I love a minimalist, clean website! When someone lands for the first time on your blog, the first thing they notice is its design. You could be scaring away people because of your design (or lack of) without knowing it, even if you have great content. Don’t get me wrong, content is the most important part of a blog, but the design affects how long a visitor stays on a website. Think of it as your clothes and overall appearance when going to a job interview.
Whether the potential reader is or not a design expert, a well-designed site will help you turn first-time visitors into loyal readers! And in my opinion, the cleaner the better. The lack of distractions and unnecessary elements helps driving the attention to the important — as I said before, the content.
Below is a list of thing to keep in mind when designing your blog. This is not a website design tutorial (might do that in the future!), it’s more of a guide with small changes you can do to keep your blog clean and achieve that minimalist look everyone loves nowadays (no wonder why!).
Minimalist design — A guide to decluttering your blog
Take a look at your website or blog and get rid of everything you don’t really need in there!
1. White space is your new BFF
Remember: white space doesn’t have to be necessarily white! White space means space without content. A cluttered website makes it difficult to focus on the important things, and we certainly don’t want that, right?
The first thing is to start with a clean canvas. In plain English: please don’t use images or patterns as background in your posts! Important content should be readable.
There are some exceptions: you can use them as background in call to action sections. And of course, you can use them in the header, or use a full-width image to separate two different rows on the same page. But long text sections should have a clean background!
Another tip is to increase the space between the different elements, for example between the photos and the text in a post. To recap, to gain white space you can remove all the unnecessary elements and embellishments… What takes me to the next point.
2. Consider removing your sidebar…
…or at least decluttering it! Again, a cluttered sidebar with plenty of widgets distracts the reader from the post.
In case you must keep your sidebar, those are the elements I think you should prioritize:
- A relevant photo (a headshot is a good idea! We all love to see there’s a real human behind a blog or business).
- A brief description of your blog or business.
- Social media icons.
- Search bar.
- A subscribe form.
- And if you really think you need them, 1 or 2 banners (it can be a showcase of your most popular posts or an affiliate link in case you use them).
But it feels kind of overwhelming to have a sidebar with an Instagram widget, below a Facebook widget, below a Twitter widget… You get the picture, right?
3. The two typefaces rule
Ahh, this is one of my favorite design tips! I stick to this rule for literally everything! It’s as simple as it sounds: use only two typefaces. One for plain text and another one for headings. Remember that in every typeface you can choose between different weights and sizes, so you can use two weights of one typeface and two weights of another one, for example.
You should pay special attention to this if your blog has few images. A few quick tips:
- Use a big, bold typography for headings that catches attention (like the one I use, Abril Fatface).
- Pair a sans-serif and a serif typography.
- Avoid using brush or script typefaces. I don’t have anything against them — quite the opposite, I love them! But I think their place is more for images or logos, not the text on your posts (they would make it difficult to read).
Bonus-tip: take a look at Google Fonts for a bunch of awesome free fonts!
4. Use paragraphs, subheadings, and lists
Take a look at this post! Format your text so it’s easy to read. A quick first glance should tell the visitor what your post is about.
Pro tip: if you want to increase even more the readability of your posts, increase the line spacing. Learn how to do it with CSS.
5. Simplify your color palette
Establish a palette with no more than 4 different colors, or try to push it and use only 3!
Many people have the misconception that a minimalist look equals to black and white or other monochromatic palettes, but that’s wrong! Minimalism is not the lack of color. You could be using a white background and a bold, bright neon pink, for example, and still keeping things simple — see, you’d be only using 2 colors!
Pro tip: use on your blog the same colors as in your logo or brand.
6. Keep an easy navigation
There’s really no need to have 2 submenus and then the same elements on the footer or the sidebar. You can do well with:
- 1 menu for the main navigation on top of the site header.
- 1 or 2 rows of social icons: you can add them to the main menu, to the footer or to your sidebar in case you are keeping it.
Some beautiful examples of minimalist blogs that I love
I can’t tell how much I love Mike and Brittni’s designs! They have a wonderful shop full of amazing WordPress themes and Squarespace templates. On their blog, they have removed the sidebar and they do an amazing use of typography.
Ahh, Breanna is helping me soooo much (without even knowing it!) now that I’m starting my business. You should take a look at her useful blog posts! Sidebar free, easy to read, and with a perfect visual hierarchy.
Cole’s tips and resources for launching courses and creating workbooks ar ah-mazing, no kidding! I’m definitely thinking of launching a course or offering some free resources to you guys, and his website is for me a great guide. I love his blog (guess what, another one without sidebar!), with plenty of white space.
I followed this talented girl’s blog ever since I can remember! She’s one of my biggest inspirations, really. I really like her different layout on her blog, it’s unconventional but still easy to read! Lots of white space that allow elements to breathe too.
A recent discovery, but also a great source of information to me. I absolutely love her simple menu. Well, everything is simple on her website! That makes it really easy to read without any distraction. I also love that she uses lots of white space and a calm color palette!
I hope this post was useful for you! If you have any other tip to achieve a cleaner look on a blog, don’t forget to share in the comments below!