Blogs with great designs?
December 31, 2005 5:57 PM   Subscribe

What are some really well-designed, cool-looking blogs?

I'm starting up a blog, and I don't want it to look like a blogspot-esque, cookie cutter site. I want to get creative with it and have a layout that makes people ooh and ahh. I'm using MT, so I have quite a bit of flexibility, but I need inspiration. What blogs do you guys consider really aesthetically pleasing and elegantly designed? I want a fairly zen layout, but not too minimalist, since I will have a number of different content areas. Thanks for your help!
posted by TunnelArmr to Computers & Internet (31 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Not a blog in the literal sense, but definitely a look at brilliant, CSS-based designs, all of which are formatted for blog content: The CSS Zen Garden

More inspiration than you could possibly shake a stick at, with plenty of designs on the right (or left, depending on the design) sidebar.
posted by disillusioned at 6:02 PM on December 31, 2005

Mine. It's especially interesting when I actually post things to it. Er, sorry for the self-link, but I thought you might like the design; it's also backended with MT.
posted by BorgLove at 6:04 PM on December 31, 2005

I like the design of Gapers' Block, which is one of the few blogs I've seen which feature a large number of content areas but are also well-designed.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 6:08 PM on December 31, 2005

I don't read it often, but I've always liked the design of Daring Fireball.
posted by Jairus at 6:11 PM on December 31, 2005

I like to keep a bookmark folder called something like "web design examples", into which I place a bookmark if I just happen to stumble upon a site which has a particularly interesting element of design. I don't really think about it too much, just file it away for later inspection. I find that this works well because it's very easy just to say "ooh that's interesting, I'll check that out later" when you are on a random site. You do tend to accumulate a large folder with lots of random stuff, but it's not the content that I'm bookmarking it's the presentation or design, and for that it works well.

Here's a couple from that folder:
posted by Rhomboid at 6:15 PM on December 31, 2005

Oh, and please for the love of god don't make your font tiny. Nothing turns me off from reading a site more than the standard miniscule 9 pixel verdana that everyone seems to be in love with. And yes, I consider the font size in some of those links I just posted above to be violating this rule.
posted by Rhomboid at 6:18 PM on December 31, 2005

Rhomboid: get a bigger monitor. Or change your default font size.

BorgLove: All I see is a bunch of white space and a single graphic. Hardly technically impressive...
posted by delmoi at 6:36 PM on December 31, 2005

Jeff Harrell's The Shape Of Days is gorgeous. Sean Gleeson's blog is quite pretty too. Joel Spolsky's blog is beautiful. why the lucky stiff's Redhanded blog is sweet, especially the look of the comments. I second the Daring Fireball recommendation. My blog is a work in progress, but definitely very different-looking than most blogs (see my profile for link, if you're interested).
posted by evariste at 6:39 PM on December 31, 2005

Yup, as above, please just stay away from clutter, tiny type and illegible color schemes. BorgLove's is nice, in that it's simple, clear and effectively laid out. And Daring Fireball knows from color — it's actually quite readable, even soothing. (The CSS Zen Garden homepage not so much: striking, but dark headers + pink/small type ≠ happyrob.)

Also, I find the templates provided by WordPress handsome.
posted by rob511 at 6:39 PM on December 31, 2005


The Republic of T
posted by evariste at 6:51 PM on December 31, 2005
posted by evariste at 6:53 PM on December 31, 2005

Lealea's Blogblog

Smiley Cat
posted by evariste at 6:58 PM on December 31, 2005

posted by evariste at 7:00 PM on December 31, 2005

Airbag Industries
posted by jazon at 7:31 PM on December 31, 2005

Great designed blogs?


Great blogs, but I don't know what's powering them:
Airbag Industries

Movable Type Powered Blogs:
Jason Santa Maria
Kottke.Org (and he's a MeFite too)
Dooce (Which had a great design before, but recently refreshed to a brand new and even better look)
Bearskin Rug

And Insert Shameless plug here (heh): Malbela
posted by aristan at 7:46 PM on December 31, 2005

waxy is a mefite too. ( just by the way)...carry on.
posted by kev23f at 7:49 PM on December 31, 2005

I'm sure they're all MeFites. All the cool kids are.
posted by aristan at 7:51 PM on December 31, 2005

Rhomboid: get a bigger monitor. Or change your default font size.
That is about the most ridiculous advice I've ever read from what I would have thought to be an otherwise sensible person.

Change the default font? Why one earth would I do that? My default font looks just fine, thank you. It is very readable, and the majority of sites out there that use relative font sizes look just fine. My desktop and applications all have perfect font sizes. It's only the small percentage of peckers that force their own idea of font sizes on me, instead of respecting my chosen default that I have a problem with. Why would I want to make 95% of the fonts on my desktop much larger than they need to be just so I can read the 5% of shitty blogs out there that cram a tiny verdana down my throat?

However, if any of those 9pt verdana lovers want to buy me a new monitor so that I can comfortably read their blogs, then my address is available in WHOIS and I can sign for a package any weekday. Somehow, I don't think anyone is going to take me up on that offer.

And since when has "you need a larger monitor to comfortably view this website" ever been anything but laughable? The web from day one is supposed to be readable on any device, no? So stop specifying fixed miniscule pixel sizes in your stylesheets.
posted by Rhomboid at 8:36 PM on December 31, 2005

i've always thought Black Table is a really great fit of form and content--clear but not dull, with tons of visuals.
posted by amberglow at 9:45 PM on December 31, 2005

I've always been really impressed by Cameron Moll's site. Little flourishes like the logo design for his name, the cursive first letters in the post titles, the graphics in the corners. The columns are just the right size, the text is readable, the orange highlights are punchy but not blaring. Shows a lot of thought has gone into it.

Stopdesign is another good site that I like because even though nothing really complicated is being used, the structure and color combination gives you the sense that the site is composed of slightly transparent layers of color overlapping each other.

It's not a particularly original design, but I like Slashfood for the way it is organized. Check out the second column from the left. I do like how the site itself has a neutral palette, which makes the pictures of food pop out even more.

For a long time I had Vanilla and Mint mixed up, because I think the designs look a lot alike, but I like them both. I like the pulldown menu on [Mint creator] Shaun Inman's blog a lot, because it's unexpected, though I bet a lot of people don't like how it intrudes on the page when you mouseover it. Still, notice that it's at the top and the bottom, which is a cool touch.

A List Apart is another good, simple, classy site. The logo box in the upper left works because it has such an unusual footprint on the page.. the way it hangs down into the gutter like that makes it memorable even though it's kind of nondescript in other ways.

I'm a big fan of Daring Fireball like everybody else, though I did not know it was so popular. It's such a simple look that I thought it might pass notice.. but it is indeed really cool, which is a nice effect.

Also, there's another blog whose design I like a lot, but never read.. it's the blog of a web design firm, and the logo is some onion-like vegetable. I keep forgetting the name. Can somebody help?

... And may I also say that I think the direction AskMetafilter has been moving, design wise, is very good as well. If you haven't seen Matt's sites, they're fun to look at in general.. even though I liked the old (green/square) blog look better.
posted by Hildago at 10:09 PM on December 31, 2005

but it is indeed really cool, which is a nice effect.

I just want to point out how ridiculous that sentence was. I think that's a cut-and-paste error.
posted by Hildago at 10:14 PM on December 31, 2005

posted by Prince Nez at 12:04 AM on January 1, 2006

Rhomboid: You don't have to change fonts system-wide. Hold CTRL, and scroll your mouse wheel. Try it.
posted by Jairus at 3:35 AM on January 1, 2006

Joshuaink is stunning.
Hicksdesign by Jon Hicks is also very nice (from the man behind the Firefox and Thunderbird logos)
posted by TheDonF at 3:52 AM on January 1, 2006

I marked itchin specifically for the innovative design. Very elegant, and non-bloggy.
posted by frykitty at 5:27 AM on January 1, 2006

Wow, itchin is fantastic looking.
posted by gleuschk at 8:37 AM on January 1, 2006

Subtraction looks ultra cool.
posted by prolific at 9:46 AM on January 1, 2006

I think Slashfood and Dooce should be removed from this list, as they have done a terrible job incorporating ads.

Actually, from what I have, very few blogs have been able to successfully include ads into their design. Well, ads that aren't Google ads, anyway.
posted by travosaurus at 12:50 PM on January 1, 2006

I think Slashfood and Dooce should be removed from this list, as they have done a terrible job incorporating ads.

Wow, you're totally right about Slashfood, and my evaluation of it was totally wrong -- I have all the ads blocked (Filterset.G) and so it looks very different for me than it is "supposed" to look.
posted by Hildago at 1:57 PM on January 1, 2006

I like the design of Gapers' Block, which is one of the few blogs I've seen which feature a large number of content areas but are also well-designed.

Indeed, I love that style too (though I think of the site as a magazine more than a weblog, but I guess there's not much difference). Very neat and readable, even though so much is crammed on the front page. Similarly, The Morning News, Coudal, Notcoming (cinema).

I'm not much for the ooh and aah fancy effects though, well at least unless it's a design or photography site or something like that, but for weblogs with lots of text content I care more about readability. Of course, ideally, a combination of the two.

Anyway, there's a lot of nice designs featured at Stylegala.
posted by funambulist at 2:41 PM on January 1, 2006

... they just changed the front page as I was posting - direct link to Notcoming's actual index page, not the temporary "2005 in review" front page.
posted by funambulist at 2:44 PM on January 1, 2006

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