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The Smashing Book #5

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45 Excellent Blog Designs

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Designing a blog is easy. Whatever engine you are using and whatever style you prefer, you’ll always find a number of templates you can apply to your weblog in seconds. No styling is necessary, no playing with colors is needed and no mind jogging about content presentation is required. However, not every weblog should look like a typical blog. After all, not every blogger wants his or her site to look exactly like hundreds of other ones. In fact, there is a small bunch of creative, outstanding and individually designed from scratch blogs.

In this post we didn’t try to showcase some eye-candy (although sometimes eye-candy is indeed offered); the designs listed below were selected for their attention to small details. Pretty and colourful header-graphics doesn’t make a good blog. The blog needs a solid visual structure, a profound hierarchy of site elements; it also has to be able to build some kind of a bridge between the content and its presentation. To do this, you need to think about precision, minimalism and sound use of illustration. These criteria were the ones we’ve used to select the designs listed below. All these aspects make the designs we’ve selected look… well, not always beautiful, but outstanding, almost excellent in their own kind. Mostly it’s the idea the designers used to make the weblog as usable as possible – not the implementation of this idea – which we’ve been after.

Below you’ll find 45 excellent blog designs which impress with creative approaches and attention to details; hopefully you’ll find new ideas you can develop further in your own designs.

Notice that the screenshots we’ve provided may give you a wrong impression about the whole design of the sites; in doubt you should take a closer look at headers, footers, comment-areas, site structure and further site elements. Please also notice that you can click on screenshots to get to the sites from which the screenshots have been taken.

We’ve missed something? Definitely! Let us know in the comments!

Weblogs powered by Django Link

Ryan Berg (Django)

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Derek Featherstone (Django)

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Jeff Croft (Django)

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Andy Hume (Django)

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Weblogs powered by ExpressionEngine Link

Jesse Bennett-Chamberlain (Expression Engine)
Whitespace in use. The categories and popular entries are listed at the top of the page, not in the sidebar as they usually are.

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Veerle Pieters

An almost “classic”, well-known design, but still incredibly beautiful. Veerle makes use of a dark layout with quite colourful scheme. The result is impressive – and the position of site elements extremely well thought-out.

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Emanuel Blagonic (Expression Engine WordPress)

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Weblogs powered by MovableType Link

Kevin Kornell (Movable Type)
A typical weblog doesn’t look like an illustrated magazine. Kevin Kornell’s blog does. This one makes use of an “oldie”-style.

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Cameron Moll

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Dave Shea (Movable Type)

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Dan Cederholm (Movable Type)

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Weblogs powered by Textpattern Link

Praegnanz.de (Textpattern)
A minimalistic approach with clean web-typography.

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Hicksdesign (Textpattern)

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Geniant (Textpattern)

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Blogs powered by WordPress Link

Circle Six (WordPress)

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Pedro Lamin (WordPress)
Fresh and clean design, lacking almost everything – there is even no navigation in blog categories.

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Design Disease (WordPress)

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Surfgarden (WordPress)

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Dan Rubin (WordPress)

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NorthxEast (WordPress)

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Larissa Meek (WordPress)

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Matt (WordPress)
A Business-Design. Look at the information sections on the left side of the layout.

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Agenturblog (WordPress)

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Ben Gillbanks (WordPress)

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Rik Catlow (WordPress)

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FreelanceSwitch (WordPress)

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John Boardley (WordPress)

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Shaun Inman (WordPress custom PHP-Framework. Thanks, Shaun)

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Mstefan.com (WordPress)

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Screenz (WordPress)

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Screencasting (WordPress)

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Blog.Critical (WordPress)

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Wan Zafran (WordPress)

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Viki (WordPress)
Extensive use of visual elements prevails; it might be a nice idea, but the content should prevail.

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Nick La (WordPress)
Playful design with dozens of swirls, curves and artistic elements.

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Laura Alter (WordPress)

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Markus Zeeh (WordPress)
Playful flower-images and ornaments seem to be trends.

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Sidney Collins (WordPress)

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Roman Leinwather (WordPress)

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Bottled Sky (WordPress)
Probably not the most gorgeous layout ever made, but well-structured. The use of colors communicates the idea of the site.

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Johanna Hallin (WordPress)

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Cabana (WordPress)
Sometimes it is an interesting approach to use a “thin” layout, although it should rather be an exception.

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Reflections (WordPress)

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Further Weblogs Link

Abduzeedo (Drupal)
Stylish, readable and clean. The site doesn’t look like blog at all – at least at the first glance.

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Jonathan Snook (CakePHP)

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Even more inspiration! Link

Apart from numerous galleries of CSS-based designs you might find useful the following showcases of weblogs designed on specific plattforms.

  • Textpattern sites1
    Gallery of very well designed Textpattern-sites as well as the list of sites based upon Textpattern (sorted by country).
  • Django sites2
    A growing showcase of websites powered by Django. Almost 300 entries.
  • Expression Engine Showcase3
    A gallery of 200 sites powered by Expression Engine. 15 categories.

Footnotes Link

  1. 1 http://txpmag.com/all_sites
  2. 2 http://www.djangosites.org/latest/
  3. 3 http://expressionengine.com/showcase/websites/
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Sven is the co-founder and former CEO of Smashing Magazine. He's now writing at his Conterest Blog, where he focuses on blogs, content strategy and publishing — all in German.

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  1. 1

    ShaunInman.com runs on WordPress? Really??? I can’t belive that…

    -2
  2. 2

    lol my blog not listed. (kidding) great collections.

    0
  3. 3

    WOW!!! rly great Designs there…
    if i weren’t a designer, i would chose this one:
    http://www.vikiworks.com/2007/08/24/a-nice-pullquote/

    -1
  4. 4

    Perfect timing… I’m in the midst of designing the blog right now :)

    Thanks!

    -1
  5. 5

    some very cool designs. some “standard” templates for wordpress like Illacrimo are also pretty good. Ours too at http://www.lets-jam.com. ;-)

    0
  6. 6

    Another great compilation but Agenturblog is hardly impressive by any stretch. I always liked these guys who I think you featured among a compilation b4. Green is nice.

    0
  7. 7

    Yeah, great collections! These are good examples of functional and beautiful Designs :)

    3
  8. 8

    There are some inspiring blog designs
    What do you think of my

    1
  9. 10

    Nice list. Do you guys tell people you’re featuring them? Sidney (bubblessoc.net) will be over the moon about being here…

    -1
  10. 11

    Nice list as usual! That’s great for inspiration. Thanks!

    0
  11. 12

    Great list. I’ve had a lot of those bookmarked for inspiration.

    -1
  12. 13

    At last, I can have my grave stone completed with the following epithet:

    As Featured in Smashing Magazine

    And what’s more I’m next to Shaun Inman’s blog (much better design than mine). A double honour. Three cheers for the inimitable SM.

    1
  13. 14

    Really made my work much easier, otherwise it gets soooo… confusing at times.

    Vijay

    1
  14. 15

    Russell Heimlich

    August 28, 2007 4:34 am

    This brings up an interesting question I have always had. Do people really browse by category? I know it depends on your content but I’m under the idea of being extremely minimalist for the simple fact that I want people to read my stuff and not be distracted by widgets, and stats, and blogroll links etc.

    What is everyone elses take on this?

    -1
  15. 16

    I think these sites are more popular than excellent.

    1
  16. 17

    Good list, although some of them don’t work in ALL browsers very well.

    1
  17. 18

    Great Collection always…
    Smashing Magazine..U r Ultimate…

    -1
  18. 19

    Wow … talk about a wordpress overload ;) !

    1
  19. 20

    Administradorchicas

    August 28, 2007 5:12 am

    The Surfgarden blog is my favorite design, congrats.

    -1
  20. 21

    Shit, they forgot abaut my blog…. again:p Thats okey, i didnt want to be listed anyway:D

    -1
  21. 22

    No avalonstar love?

    -1
  22. 23

    nice collection :)

    great to see these layed out next to each other, on just this list there are more better wordpress designers… but I say someone needs to start a CMS design competition, wordpress vs expressionengine vs moveable type vs etc…

    -1
  23. 24

    Thank you for presenting me! That is a big honor for me. I am speechless. Thanks again.

    0
  24. 25

    I really love Kineda. I believe they use WordPress.

    0
  25. 26

    nice post people

    0
  26. 27

    I believe freelanceswitch.com is powered by Light CMS, not WordPress. Could be wrong.

    Also, though I love some of the tips and tricks type lists you guys do, it seems that most of these gallery items – all of which I’ve seen on the gallery sites previously – seem to be nothing more than attempts at links to/from recognized names. I’d love to see more content that the rest of us would actually have to dig to find (like the 80 AJAX or 70 CSS lists). That’s the stuff I subscribed for. Keep up the good work, all the same.

    0
  27. 28

    Yay! Thanks a lot for including our blog in such a nice selection! We are very honored :)

    Thanks a lot!

    -2
  28. 29

    Wow – you listed Binary Moon. Thanks a lot :)

    There’s an awful lot of other pretty sites in there too. I’m going to have to check them all out properly.

    0
  29. 30

    Vitaly Friedman & Sven Lennartz

    August 28, 2007 4:14 pm

    Andrew Swihart, Textpattern is also featured, scroll down, please.

    0
  30. 31

    How dare you mention MovableType and leave out Txp, lol.

    1

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