Over at Free WordPress Themes, I recently wrote a post about how to best design blogs within a blog network. I whipped up this article based on my experiences having been part of blog networks for the past couple of years. The options are:
- A similar design across the entire network, with color scheme variants;
- Entirely unique designs for each blog; or,
- Unique design for each blog, with each with familiar elements that can identify the blog with others within the network.
Using a single design across many blogs can be a real cost-saver (do you know how much it costs to commission a really good WP theme design these days?). And you get to establish your branding in terms of design–since all your sites look the same, your readers will be quick to identify sites as belonging to you.
However, the tradeoff here is that your sites will lose their individuality. They will look like boilerplate dseigns stamped on blogs, just to make a forced fit. It’s sometimes awkward.
Then again, having entirely unique designs for each blog might make the network look non-cohesive and un-networked.
In my opinion, a good balance between individuality and similarity does the trick.
I’ve realized that it makes better sense to design and conceptualize each site uniquely, but keeping something in common across the network, to retain that familiar feel. (I know this sounds–and actually is–very non-technical.) This way, things don’t get boring because of that all-too-similar look and feel across an entire network of sites.
Having unique themes for each blog makes it exciting for readers and us editors and contributors alike. But keeping the familiarity is also the challenge, because we want each of our sites to be closely identified with the network.
Do you agree with me on this? Any design gurus out there who would like to pitch in their two cents’ worth?