I just recently re-designed and re-launched my personal blog, Qwirkie. When researching for the design, I knew I wanted to keep it “feminine” and fun, with a style consistent with other lifestyle blogs. But, as of yet, I haven’t been quite able to crack the code on what makes a good feminine blog layout. So I’ve spent the last week sitting down going through countless blogs, trying to figure out what made them tick.
And I think I’ve got it.
“Feminine” Layouts are Compact as Heck
In the business-focused web world, most designs are big. The emphasis is on large, bold typography, lots of white space, iconography or small relevant graphics, and a clear visual separation between sections and elements. The goal of such websites is to break content down into smaller, bite-sized chunks that your viewers (and potential customers) can digest quickly and easily.
The StudioPress website is a great proof of this concept – big, bold typography, lots of spacing between elements, and at no point does the user ever feel overwhelmed with content. It’s clean, targeted, and effective.
Hell, even my home page embraces this open, spacious concept.
However, In my quest to create an attractive, industry-standard, “girly” theme, I noticed that the standard feminine blog layout is anything but spacious. In fact, most of the time they’re downright cramped.
Take a look at A Beautiful Mess, one of my favorite lifestyle/DIY blogs:
The primary content container on this site is 1000px. One-thousand-freaking-pixels. It’s so small it looks exactly the same on my iPad (landscape) as it does on my laptop.
The main body copy is 14px in size. Fourteen pixels. I don’t think I’ve used 14px body copy in probably five years – I’ve always considered it a little too difficult to read. Yet they’re out here doing it.
This isn’t an isolated trend. Many feminine blog themes are the same – small body containers, small images, and absolutely miniscule typography. And it works.
It’s About Content Over Looks
Design is solving problems. It isn’t just about making things look “pretty”. And this trend of tiny layouts is just another crazy example of form vs. function and designing with goals in mind.
A blog is about posts, and each post a unique bit of content. So it makes sense to try and cram as much content as possible into the available space.
The first two sections of A Beautiful Mess’s home page display over 17 different blog posts. That’s a crazy amount of content to have crammed into such a small space, but it ensures that there’s something fun and eye-catching on display for every visitor.
By minimizing whitespace, shrinking typography, and keeping the entire layout small, you’re actually maximizing the amount of unique content your visitors are exposed to.
The goal isn’t to overwhelm your visitors, though. The key to being successful with these feminine blog layouts is using clean, easy-to-read typography. Combine that with just enough white space, and you have a clean, minimal layout that cranks out your content.
Why don’t we see this on more websites?
Often times, business websites are focused on a sole service or product. They’re essentially one piece of content, which is then broken down into pages so it’s easier to understand. When you’re focused on one piece of content, cramming in too much information will just overwhelm your visitors. Which is the fastest way to lose a potential customer.
On the other hand, a blog is about posts – small pieces of unique, bite-sized content. Usually, blog posts can stand on their own and don’t need extra posts or pages to explain them.
And when you run a blog, you aren’t necessarily looking for conversions. A good variety of content and community engagement, plus ads, will turn your website into a money-making machine all on its own.
My Personal Thoughts on this Trend
Personally, I think it’s incredibly smart. The best way to catch yourself an audience is to make your content easy to find. These smaller, feminine blog layouts do that incredibly well.
There’s also a little bit of a nostalgia factor in it for me. I started on MySpace. I remember the trend of using “Small Fonts” for body copy and pixel fonts in all of your designs. Something about the small typography brings me back to those days.
On the other hand, there’s a part of me that fears compact layouts are the gateway to design atrocities. Like this. So perhaps it’s best we don’t regress too much.