30 Best Designed Blogs of 2011

“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.
Freelance Switch Blog Design

2. Copyblogger

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.
Copyblogger Blog Desing

3. Pearsonified

Like Copyblogger, Pearsonified.com is beautiful in its simplicity and alluring with its gentle smattering of bright colors.
Pearsonified Blog Design

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.
KISSmetrics Blog Design

5. AVC

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.
AVC Blog Design

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.
Startup Quote Blog Design

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.
The Next Web Blog 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.
Business Insider Blog Design

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.
Webs Blog Design

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.
Go Media Blog 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!Hello Bar Blog Design

12. Blogussion

The Blogussion.com design is the first awe-inspiring design I remember finding on the internet.
Blogussion Blog Design

13. Modern Nerd

Modernerd.com’s logo is simple, the fonts are consistent, and the background image communicates what the blog is all about.
Modern Nerd Blog Design

14. I Wear Your Shirt

IWearYourShirt.com does a wonderful job of cleanly packing information above the fold while emphasizing the important content below.
I Wear Your Shirt Blog Design

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.
Johnny Cupcakes Blog Design

16. TheOatmeal

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.
The Oatmeal Blog Design

17. DearBlankPleaseBlank

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.
Dear Blank Please Blank Blog Design

18. Tuts+

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.
Tuts Plus Blog Design

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.
Build Internet Blog Design

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.
45royale Inc Blog Design

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.
Web Designer Wall Blog Design

22. Web Designer Depot

Similar to Web Designer Wall, WebDesignerDepot.com hosts another one of those designs that’s impossible to forget.
Web Designer Depot Blog Design

23. Ilovecolors

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.
I Love Colors Blog Design

24. Tut Candy

TutCandy.com’s header makes you salivate which embodies their tagline, “Only the tastiest design tutorials.”
Tut Candy Blog Design

25. Owltastic

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.
Owltastic Blog Design

26. Vectips

Vectips.com does a nice job of maintaining an eventually sellable feel on a personal-ish branding site.
Vectips Blog Design

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.
The Design Cubicle Blog Design

28. ThemeBIG

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.
Theme Big Blog Design

29. Ecoki

Ecoki.com is an Eco-Lifestyle blog with a remarkably, well-branded design that’s consistent across every nook and cranny of their site.
Ecoki Blog Design

30. Fiked

Everything from the header, to the content area, to the comments area is custom designed and in tune with the rest of the site.
Fiked Blog Design

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.


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