A blog is the heartbeat of your website. As you blog you make those changes to your website that creates an up tick in your Google indexing. In addition you create a space for content creation that increases social capital and credibility in the marketplace. Kind of like what I am doing now.
Designing your blog should not take more than a few hours from start to finish, then you can get down to the business of writing in your blog. Why not start with a welcome to my blog piece?
A client of ours selected Google's Blogger Platform for his blog and why not? Short of designing one on Dreamweaver, Google has all the functions you might want and a great community of support for novice and advanced users alike.
You can use one of the templates as a start but here are some tips for customizing it to match your other online properties.
First you want to match the look and feel of websites, business cards and the like. You want to brand it. Here the rule of thumb is "keep it simple".
I began by colour chipping the clients website. I took it into an old Microsoft program called "Photo Editor" where I obtained the RGB (Red, Green, Blue) settings. I took those to a converter on the web and also got the hexadecimal settings. The logo has two shades of grey, white and orange in it so that, plus black are the colours I used in the design of the blog. I inserted the logo into the blog and set about fiddling with the attributes.
If you create a spreadsheet of the advanced teamplate in Blogger, you can see the attributes repeat in a logical way, such as all text and links looking and behaving identically. This grid is helpful because it allows me to map each attribute, one at a time. - I didn't forget what I did on the tabs text when I was working on the gadget text.
After the colours were mapped out, I went into the layout section to decide what I wanted to appear with the blog. Ideally you want a good mix of static and dynamic items. If you do then your readers may come back more frequently to see what has changed.
For this client, we chose an email gadget to allow subscribers to be notified by email whenever there was a post and a poll to encourage interactivity. Along with the standard areas for posts, archives and the about me section, we added a "favourite post" section and for dynamics a small news feed at the footer.
A next step if to get together with this very happy client and prepare an annual editorial calendar to guide the creation of the content. Ideally we'll do this over a couple beers.
Beer for when it's time to generate ideas, coffee for when it's time to implement them.