As I said, to each their own. But there are some basic things that I think are important to keep in mind:
- Are the titles and text easy to read on your blog? Orange font on a pink background is going to be rough for most people. Design all you want around the blog but the text is one area where I think simple is best. A dark font on a neutral background is the easiest to see. Even though white font on black is clear, some people have a hard time reading it for long periods of time (myself included and I'm not that old).
- Is it easy to find a way to follow or subscribe to your blog? I can't tell you how many times I've been on a blog that I've really liked and the follow button was like playing Where's Waldo. If you want subscribers, you need to make it easy. Don't bury these buttons in a sea of color or blog "gadgets."
- For most western language speakers, the eye is naturally going to track from left to right. So keep that in mind as you add new stuff to your blog. The things in the upper left-hand corner of the screen will be noticed before the bottom right-hand corner.
- For better or worse, images are a distraction. People will notice images before they notice text. As I said before, there are different theories on what draws people in to a blog. I have multiple blogs and my image usage varies. Keep images tasteful and keep them relevant. If you are a graphic designer or photographer, you would want lots of images. If you are writing a how-to, only add images if it helps to understand the concept.
- Is your blog easy to navigate? A lot of bloggers neglect to add a home page. This is a common problem with wordpress users. On a wordpress blog, the default "home" button is just clicking on the blog's title. But only wordpress users would know this. Make your blog computer-idiot proof. You don't want to lose a reader just because they got frustrated navigating.