Blog design has always evolved. Last year many sites embraced the “magazine” layout, a big shift from the traditional read ten posts down the page layout that was typical of blogs for a long time. In 2009 the new trend is visual, with white minimalism being the new black.
The new white look in blog designs jettisons content borders in favor of no borders at all. Content, advertising and background share the same uninterrupted white, or with some limited background changes/ lines. Visually the designs offer a clean look that reduces visual clutter and presumably helps speed load times by reducing the number of CSS elements required for each page.
Here’s some recent examples of tech blogs embracing white.
In GigaOm’s current template, all lines are removed between background, content and advertising. The header in maintained as a block, a common element in this type of design.
ReadWriteWeb goes for a full width block header, and a thin line between content and advertising, but blends the rest.
Mashable is an interesting mix. The current template embraces horizontal lines, but ignores vertical lines. The sidebar ad elements get gray individual boxes.
VentureBeat has taken minimalism differently to the others, embracing it with their header as well as the rest of the site. The sidebar gets a background, but there are no other dividers.
Is white right for your site?
Just because white is in at the moment doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s right for your site. There are advantages, including the potential of increased CTR if you’re not dividing your ads and content. The theory there goes that by not providing a visual barrier to ads, visitors are more likely to see them, therefore click on them.
The problem though with white is that if you do have a lot of sidebar items up that aren’t great to look at, white may actually highlight their nature more than a traditional side.
Also white can appear to be stark visually and may be a turn off. For example VentureBeat has combined white with a gray text color, so the white appears very, very white. It actually hurts my eyes, but that might be a thing with me only. Always keep in mind that you need to maximize readability on your site.
There are many more sites not mentioned embracing white at the moment, so there’s no doubt that it’s a trend that is well and truly in place. It’s this years take on Web 2.0, and it will probably spread a lot further until the next design trend is embraced.