When it comes to capturing the lasting attention of new website visitors, how your website looks plays an integral role. Stats show that 94% of first impressions relate to your site’s web design. As such, it’s important to nail your blog design from the get-go.

Making an excellent first impression isn’t the only reason why you want a killer blog design. Stats show that creating a beautiful website helps in the following ways:

  • Builds credibility. 75% of website credibility comes from design.
  • Promotes engagement. 66% of people prefer to look at a nicely designed website if given 15 minutes to consume content.
  • Improves customer loyalty. 89% of consumers will shop with a competitor after a poor user experience.
  • Encourages repeat visitors. 74% of users are more likely to return to mobile-friendly websites.

With all these stats in mind, it’s clear that the design of your blog is a key factor in the ultimate success of your website.

To help you create a gorgeous blog, this article will cover:

  • Blog layout best practices
  • How to find a theme in WordPress
  • How to test and preview themes in WordPress

Blog layout best practices

Before you select a theme, it’s important to be familiar with the basics of blog layout design. When you know what your blog layout should look like and what features are important, it will help you weed out themes that aren’t as compatible with blogging as other themes.

Here are the blog layout best practices you shouldn’t ignore.

1. Responsive design

A responsive design means that the layout of your website will change to fit the screen or device a browser is searching on. This means if someone browses your blog on a computer, it will look slightly different than what it looks like on a mobile device.

Truth be told, it’s difficult these days to find a theme that isn’t responsive and that doesn’t have a nice mobile layout in addition to its desktop layout. 

However, it’s critical that you preview the desktop and mobile layouts of your theme to make sure you like how it functions before you purchase a theme, activate a theme, and start customizing it.

Stats show that if a website is not mobile-friendly, 40% of visitors will not engage. It’s also particularly important to make your site mobile friendly if you sell products on your site. More and more consumers are turning to mobile devices to make purchases. If you make it impossible, or difficult, potential customers will turn elsewhere.

2. Consider using the blog card design

The goal of a blog is to keep readers on your website for as long as possible. One way to do this is to present visitors with as much engaging content as possible, but also not to overload them visually.

A great way to accomplish this is to settle on a blog theme that presents your blog posts as cards. 

The best way to describe this is with the following visual example.

blog layout card design

This particular blog layout makes it easy for a user to see several of the latest articles and find the content they are looking for immediately. Not to mention, the card pictures make the page visually appealing and interesting.

Another example of a larger platform that has a card design is Pinterest. Instead of scrolling through tons of pages to find what you like, you can browse through cards and click on the one you like.

If you opt for the card design, make sure to add the following elements to each card/article:

  • Image
  • Blog title
  • Article snippet
  • Category
  • Social share option

If who wrote the post is important to your audience, then consider adding the author to the card as well.

3. Organize your blog content with categories

If you have a smaller blog or only post about one topic, you don’t necessarily have to categorize your content. If you are running a larger blog or post about several different topics, then it’s smart to organize your content by category.

For example, let’s say you run a homesteading blog. Instead of categorizing everything as ‘homesteading,” you may want to divide everything up into categories, including:

  • Recipes
  • Food storage
  • Sustainable living
  • Gardening
  • Home remedies
  • Livestock
  • Off-grid
  • Herbs
  • Foraging
  • And more!

Opting for a blog layout that allows you to categorize your blog posts will make it easier for your visitors to find the content they are looking for with no problems.

The good news about WordPress is most of the popular themes will take into consideration all the proven design elements.

You can rest assured you’ll get a gorgeous color scheme, nice layout, compatible fonts, and excellent functionality with almost any WordPress theme.

If you want a nice website, but don’t have a great eye for design, then installing a WordPress theme is a smart alternative to a website builder.

How to find a blog theme in WordPress

Now that you are familiar with blog layout best practices, it’s time to start looking for a theme for your new blog.

Here are instructions on how you find themes in WordPress:

  1. Log in to WordPress using your login credentials.
  2. On the left navigation bar of your dashboard, find “Appearances” and then click on “Themes.”
  3. Once you’re on the “Themes,” page, you’ll see a list of popular WordPress themes.
  4. If you don’t like any of the themes that are already installed in your WordPress account, you can click on “Add New.” This will take you to a page where you can search through hundreds of other options.
  5. As you search, turn your attention to the menu bar, you can filter your searches by “featured,” “popular,” “latest,” and “favorites.” You can also click on “feature filter” and select specific features you want your theme to have. This is a great way to narrow down all the theme options, so your theme has everything you want.
use filters to narrow down search for blog theme in wordpress

Once you’ve set all your filters, you can look through all the different options, until you find one you like.

If you opt to purchase a premium or third-party theme, that’s also a great option. If you’re a first-time WordPress user, it can be a little confusing to upload a third-party theme into WordPress. 

Here are instructions to help guide you through the process:

  1. Purchase your blog theme from any third-party platform (e.g., StudioPress, ThemeForest, MOJO WordPress Marketplace, etc.).
  2. Once you’ve completed your purchase, the third-party company will allow you to download a .zip file.
  3. Download the .zip file to your desktop. You don’t need to open the .zip file or look at any of the files individually. Just let it sit on your desktop until you return to WordPress.
  4. Login to your WordPress account, navigate back to the “Theme page” (following the instructions above.
  5. Click on “Add New.”
  6. Once you’re on the “Add New” page, click on “Upload theme.”
  7. From here, you can either drag and drop the .zip file, or you can choose the file from your desktop, and then click “Install Now.”
  8. Once you’ve installed the .zip file of your new theme, you can activate it and begin customizing it.

There are thousands of different themes you can choose from for your blog. To help you out, here are some of HostGator’s recommendations for themes that are popular and useful for bloggers. This will be a good starting point in your theme research.

How to test and preview themes in WordPress

The good news about WordPress is you can test and preview themes before you commit to one. WordPress makes this easy peasy. 

Here’s how to test a theme in WordPress:

  1. Login to WordPress with your login credentials.
  2. Find “Appearance” on the left navigation bar on the dashboard, and click on “Themes.”
  3. Once you’re on the themes page, you’ll see a list of themes. You can also search for themes following the steps above.
  4. If you want to see what your blog will look like dressed up in a particular theme, simply hover your cursor over the particular theme and click on “Live Preview.”
preview wordpress theme before using it
  1. This will take you to the customization page. Instead of seeing your current theme, you’ll see what your theme would look like in the theme you are previewing.
live preview wordpress theme
  1. If you like the theme, you can press “Activate & Publish” on the top left of the screen.
  2. You can also exit out of this page, and press the “Activate” button on the respective theme, located next to the “live preview’ button.
  3. You can also make small changes to see what your blog would look like. If you don’t press “Activate & Publish,” WordPress will not save your changes.
  4. At any time, you can press “Change” under the “Previewing theme” tab and test out another theme.

This is how you can preview and test out different themes before making a final decision. In the event that you do activate a theme and then change your mind later, it’s no big deal. You can activate a different theme at any time.

Just remember that if you’ve done a lot of customization of your theme (e.g., adding additional CSS), that WordPress won’t save those changes if you activate a different one. That’s why it’s best to test out different themes to find one you like before you get too far into the WordPress theme customization process.

Design your WordPress blog with HostGator today!

The design of your blog really does play a critical role in the success of your website. It’s important to take the time upfront to choose a theme that is gorgeous, easy to update, and simple to navigate.

Part of picking a great theme involves choosing a web hosting company, like HostGator, that supports WordPress and promises quick site load times. If you’re ready to start your WordPress blog, head over to HostGator now and pick the WordPress web hosting package that best suits your needs.

Ashley R. Cummings is a professional freelance writer specializing in SaaS, tech, and advertising/marketing. In a previous life, she was a Russian teacher at Brigham Young University, a corporate trainer, and a grad student—all at the same time. When she’s not writing, you can find her traveling the world with her 2 kids and husband, reading poetry or taking a deep dive into the fabulous world of comedy. Connect with her on Twitter at @ashleyrcummings.