Building Your Voice

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Today’s guest post comes to us from J. D. Bentley of Wage Slave Rebel and the Fundamental 500 Blogging Course. I highly recommend you check out his blogging course as a way to get your voice heard around the world.

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There are plenty of proponents of minimalism advocating that you manipulate your life in such a way that it becomes essentially less complicated. This usually means selling most of the things you own and attempting to recognize the “consumeristic” tendencies that have been ingrained into your very being from birth.

That’s all good and fine and I actually highly recommend it, but there are very significant aspects of the minimalist lifestyle that are being neglected. Most of the minimalists I’ve ever known have been prolific writers, many of whom run their own blogs. I’ve noticed that there’s a disconnect between applying minimalism practically and applying it aesthetically. Because of this, a lot of minimalist blogs are busy eyesores.

If you’re a minimalist and a blogger, you should do your readers a favor and make sure your design actually reflects your minimalist philosophy. Good design means a good first impression and first impressions mean everything when you’d like people to find the simple life.

Here’s how you can make sure your readers are experiencing the best that minimalism has to offer.

Figure Out What’s Important

It’s hard to disqualify anyone as a minimalist if they’re owning or doing only what they feel is essential. This is true for blogs also. You have to ask yourself what matters, what kind of message you want to get across. You have to examine your goals and see what you and your readers benefit from most then you have to implement only those things.

When I was redesigning Wage Slave Rebel recently, I had to think about whether or not anyone actually benefited from breadcrumbs (the links at the top of the page that let you know where you are in the site) or whether showcasing the number of subscribers encouraged people to subscribe or only wasted space.

Minimalist design means always looking for ways to show less without hurting the experience.

Get a Good Basic Theme

Most themes can be turned into a minimalist theme, but some can much more easily than others. Zen Habits uses Frugal, Far Beyond the Stars uses Karappo Style and both The Minimalist Path and Wage Slave Rebel use Headway and these are all good examples of minimalist design.

You shouldn’t put a lot of thought into which theme you’ll use as your base, but here are a few suggestions.

1. Minimalist

2. Clean Home

3. Voluptua

4. Thematic

5. Manifest

Elements of Minimalist Design

There are a few key elements that all minimalist designs have. Find a way to implement these features and your blog will be a lot easier for your readers to view and navigate.

1. White Space – Minimalist designs have a good amount of white space. White space doesn’t necessarily mean that the page is white (although white is a very popular minimalist color), it just means that a lot of the page isn’t cluttered with surplus content. Think of white space as negative space, the area where nothing exists. This helps a page stay clear and readable.

2. Strong Typography – Typography is the process of designing and arranging typefaces. Minimalist designs typically have very few (if any) images. This means that the entire user experience is dependent on the design of the title, headings, paragraphs and words. Therefore, the typography of minimalist designs requires a substantial amount of attention to ensure readability and legibility.

3. Uncomplicated Color Scheme – Colors can be distracting or make a site appear more busy than it ought to. That’s why most minimalist design have either a black and white or monochromatic color scheme. You can use enough color to make it interesting, but not enough to detract from the content and the typography.

It’s in the Details

It might sound easy to have a minimalist blog, but just because someone is a lifestyle minimalist doesn’t necessarily mean they get what it means to be a visual minimalist. It really comes down to the details and finding that perfect combination of features. Following the steps above will at least get you on the right path to having a truly minimalist blog.

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This is Damron now….

I think building a blog and letting your voice be heard is an amazing life tool. I am living proof of the power of blogging. If you agree, I suggest checking out Bentley’s Blogging Course.

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4 Responses to Building Your Voice

  1. I've seen a couple of free minimalist themes that look okay — but generally not fabulous. I'm starting to get the impression that paying for a theme is necessary (provided I don't want to code up my own), but I'd love to hear your take either way.

  2. J. D. Bentley says:

    Personally, I think people who aren't very design-inclined should pay a designer to set them up with something awesome. Most minimalist themes look just okay because no widely distributed theme is ever going to have the exact style and functionality you want. The best option, if money isn't a problem, is to get a custom theme coded.

  3. I had actually thought Everett had coded his theme ground up. I'd say a voice gotta match with the appearance. Kinda like how a theme reflects an author's personality.

    I'd like to add in a 2cents worth here for #3. A great place to find wonderful color combis (5 colors per theme) is http://kuler.adobe.com/

    Use an open source tool like Gimp, or any image manipulation tool with an eyedropper to pick the colors for use in your personalized theme. :)

  4. Great tips. A clean, uncluttered blog design looks far more professional, and is easier to read.

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