Day #11 - Incorporate Great Design Into Your SiteThe power of beautiful, usable, professional design can't be overstated. When readers look at a blog, the first thing they judge is how it "feels" from a design and UX perspective. Sites that use default templates or have horrifying, 1990's design will receive less trust, a lower time-on-page, fewer pages per visit and a lower likelihood of being shared. Those that feature stunning design that clearly indicates quality work will experience the reverse - and reap amazing benefits.
These threads - 1, 2, 3 and 4 - feature some remarkable blog designs for inspiration
If you're looking for a designer to help upgrade the quality of your blog, there's a few resources I recommend:
Dribbble - great for finding high quality professional designers
Forrst - another excellent design profile community
Behance - featuring galleries from a wide range of visual professionals
Sortfolio - an awesome tool to ID designers by region, skill and budget
99 Designs - a controversial site that provides designs on spec via contests (I have mixed feelings on this one, but many people find it useful, particularly for budget-conscious projects)
This is one area where budgeting a couple thousand dollars (if you can afford it) or even a few hundred (if you're low on cash) can make a big difference in the traffic, sharing and viral-impact of every post you write.