“Ooh, that’s different!” Yep, the latest Income Diary redesign brings the total number of major redesigns of this site up to five in three years. That’s how much emphasis Michael puts on having a good-looking, high-converting, content-promoting blog design.
If you need a designer or developer who could’ve started yesterday, go to AweseomeWeb.com
To commemorate the redesign and, more importantly, provide you with an inspirational list, I present to you the 30 best designed blogs of 2011.
The Criteria for Good Blog Design
To remove as much of the subjectiveness as possible, I started with these five good blog design criteria.
- Simplicity – Is it simple?
- Web Design Standards – Does it follow web design standards like dark font on light background, clearly distinguished headlines, use of CSS sprites, consistent lines, and golden ratio compliance?
- Attention to Detail – Is there consistency within the design and otherwise pixel perfect?
- Easy to Navigate – Could I easily find and use menus, links, and other navigational components?
- Memorability – Could I remember what it looked like after exiting the site?
30 Best Designed Blogs of 2011
In no particular order, but roughly grouped by the design styles and subject matters of the corresponding blogs, here are the top 30 blog designs of 2011.
1. Freelance Switch
Big, bold headlines, subtle use of shadows, and practically impossible to see gradients, FreelanceSwitch.com is one of the best.
Copyblogger.com is the epitome of simple, solid, straightforward blog design. You know exactly where to click as soon as you land on the page.
Like Copyblogger, Pearsonified.com is beautiful in its simplicity and alluring with its gentle smattering of bright colors.
4. KISSmetrics Blog
The KISSmetrics Blog does a great job of combining modern design elements while maintaining a sense of professionalism for their mostly corporate target market.
AVC.com is super-clean and, at 16 pixels, it uses a slightly larger than average font which makes it noticeably more pleasant to read.
6. Startup Quote
StartupQuote.com is as elegant as it gets. Their dedication to uniquely depicting the quotes is what makes their site stick out.
7. The Next Web
But TNW does a great job of incorporating the ads without distracting too much from a clean, easy-to-navigate design.
8. Business Insider
If you’ve read an article on BusinessInsider.com, you’ve noticed that the site is designed to keep you hooked on their content for dozens upon dozens of pageviews.
9. Webs Blog
It looks great, but Webs Blog is also seamlessly integrated with the rest of the site despite the blog existing on a subdomain.
10. Go Media
With carefully-placed image overlays, the design simply pops off the screen and it’s hard to forget GoMediaZine.com’s design.
11. Hello Bar Blog
Hello Bar does an impressive job of integrating subtle textures into their design to give their site a vintage, but modern look. Plus, the clouds move!
The Blogussion.com design is the first awe-inspiring design I remember finding on the internet.
13. Modern Nerd
Modernerd.com’s logo is simple, the fonts are consistent, and the background image communicates what the blog is all about.
14. I Wear Your Shirt
IWearYourShirt.com does a wonderful job of cleanly packing information above the fold while emphasizing the important content below.
15. Johnny Cupcakes
Consistent with their timeless brand, almost every design element is black and white which makes Johnny Cupcakes’ photos and products stick out.
With its off-center sidebar and overflowing “Email” link in the footer, TheOatmeal.com’s design has its flaws. But reading between the imperfections, you’ll find that the design is perfect for Matthew Inman’s, “this is the way it is and if you don’t like it, I’ll unleash my army of chastising Facebook fans so you never forget” attitude that makes his site great.
DearBlankPleaseBlank.com is a creatively designed blog with its constantly rotating header image, quaint use of opacity, and the fact that everything in the sidebar is the same exact width, even the ads.
Everything about the TutsPlus.com and Envato network is gorgeous when it comes to design (including the aforementioned FreelanceSwitch.com). They have a knack for choosing perfectly-aligned color schemes and their attention to detail is impeccable, even within their posts and tutorials.
19. Build Internet
BuildInternet.com is part of Smashing Magazine’s The Smashing Network rightly so with their uniquely-displayed feature post image and commitment to maintaining their design elements throughout the site.
20. 45royale Inc.
45royale.com is a web design studio that boasts an imagination-capturing header while effectively introducing you to and navigating you through the content within the blog below.
21. Web Designer Wall
As another member of The Smashing Network, WebDesignerWall.com is one of the most widely-recognized designs in the world, with their eye-popping headlines and unforgettable header image.
22. Web Designer Depot
Similar to Web Designer Wall, WebDesignerDepot.com hosts another one of those designs that’s impossible to forget.
Ilovecolors.com.ar has a similar style but stands on its own with a cleverly designed content area that’s emphasized through the strategic shadowing of the background image.
24. Tut Candy
TutCandy.com’s header makes you salivate which embodies their tagline, “Only the tastiest design tutorials.”
Owltastic.com is a beautiful representation of what you can do with different shades of blue. Yet, somehow, all of the important content still seems to stand out.
Vectips.com does a nice job of maintaining an eventually sellable feel on a personal-ish branding site.
27. The Design Cubicle
The final Smashing Network blog in this list belongs to TheDesignCubicle.com. It looks like a website but feels like a chapter of a book.
I like the subtleness of the sprites in ThemeBIG.com’s nav menu along with that welcoming feeling you get when you first enter their site.
Ecoki.com is an Eco-Lifestyle blog with a remarkably, well-branded design that’s consistent across every nook and cranny of their site.
Everything from the header, to the content area, to the comments area is custom designed and in tune with the rest of the site.
There You Have It
I would’ve liked to visit every blog in the world before I made this list, but I was starting to get hungry.
From now on, when anybody needs a web designer or developer, they go to AwesomeWeb.com
If you know of any great blog designs that I missed, please enlighten me with some of your favorites in the comments area below.