When it comes to blog design, there are several common design mistakes that scare away your visitors (or worse, your profits). Here are seven of the biggest pitfalls. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

1.    Too Many Ads. Though you want to make money off your blog, usually through advertising, an overload of ads will be the surest way to turn off potential readers. Do not let ads overwhelm your content — people are not visiting your site to see advertisements, they are visiting it to see what your blog has to offer. If all it has to offer are ads, don’t expect a return visit. Instead, pick a few tastefully placed ads in high traffic spots, such as under your banner or one on the sidebar, and leave it at that. Ads in and of themselves are not the turn off, but if that’s all your site appears to be, that will be.
2.   Large Blocks of Text. If your blog looks like a series of college-level essays, readers are generally going to look elsewhere. Unfortunately, internet users generally have small attention spans and seeing a daunting reading assignment ahead, even at just first look without checking out the content, is reason to stay away. Just like newspaper articles, break up content into small paragraphs. More readers will be intrigued just by seeing fun-sized chunks of content rather than ones that look to present a significant time investment.
3.    A Flash Intro. Just a few years ago, many websites and blogs had a Flash video intro when users first arrived. Why don’t you see that anymore? Because research says that 25% of web surfers will immediately leave when they see a Flash intro, even if there is a “skip intro” option. Internet users are impatient; never try their patience, even with a well-designed and entertaining Flash intro. A quarter of visitors simply will not give it, or your blog, the time of day.
4.    Using Light Text on a Dark Background. It just makes it harder to read, and is a turn off to some visitors. Some readers are not comfortable reading light text on a dark background, and even if it looks great to you, it is essential to avoid any design option that makes people want to leave your website immediately upon arriving. Also, if it takes a second for your site to load, the words will not load until the whole site has. This may cause more users to leave, as all they will see is a blank screen.
5.    RSS Button Is Not Placed Prominently. One of the easiest and therefore most used way for readers to regularly visit a blog is subscribing to an RSS feed. For your blog, an RSS feed is how you keep readers interested, because they will see in their reader every time a new post is added from your blog. Take advantage of this and place RSS buttons, which allow interested users to subscribe, prominently. Have one under the header or on the sidebar of every page, and at the bottom of posts, include a subscription button next to other buttons (which you should already have) for sharing via Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites.
6.    Choosing a Bad Font. First and foremost, a blog needs to be readable. Choosing a font that is readable is essential. Font size needs to be not too small, not too big, but just right. Experiment with friends or colleagues to find the right size, though usually size 14-16 font is perfect for most people. Second, a blog needs to be aesthetically pleasing, and a font needs to reflect this as well. Stay away from comic sans font at all costs. In fact, stick with something really basic like Times New Roman; let the actual words do the talking, and let the design and header be eye-catching.
7.    Obnoxious Page Music. What was most peoples’ biggest complaint about MySpace pages? Terrible page music that came on everytime they visited a friend’s profile. Learn from MySpace. Do not be like MySpace, be like a professional blog written by mature, internet savvy people. Having music on a blog is absolutely encouraged if its pertains to the content at hand, but embed a stream or offer a download link and let the visitor choose whether they want to listen or not.
About the author: Joseph Gustav is a guest blogger for Pounding the Pavement and a writer on the subject of earning your High School Diploma at Home for the Guide to Career Education.