Originally I wanted to write how to develop a WordPress theme, but when I’ve done some research I’ve found out that there are many good resources for that for example on wpdesigner, so if you are starting a blog or just redesigning or whatever here’s the list of useful thing and tips you should pay attention to when you are designing – developing your blog.
If your site wants to be successful it should have unique, attractive, user friendly design and color scheme. If you are not really designer, hire someone for that, it’s good investment, because design counts in 5 most important things and no one likes standard templates and your site will end up like the slogan says just another wordpress blog.
Always use valid CSS and xHTML code and while coding it have in mind how WordPress displays elements, for example all menus in <ul><li>… and you should code it that way, table less of course because if your CSS, xHTML code is right half of development job is done.
Plan your space at the beginning, of course before this you have decided what you’re site would be about and what’s your targeted audience and what are people expecting for your site, and think of the things you need/don’t need for example do you need sideblog, what’s the best place for navigation, are you going to monetize your blog , how etc..?
So you should plan this all on the start because for example after a while you start accepting banner advertisement, now you have to rearrange space and people really don’t like this. Bad example of this would be http://xfep.com/ advertisement obviously isn’t planned here and there’ lot of white space for it.
Allow pings and comments, answer people questions, participate in discussions. If number of comments gets large you should use Gravatars to make inside discussions easier. Of course allow people to subscribe and place feed icon somewhere on the beginning of the page, and make it larger than text size, and if you have large number of subscribers point it out it will encourage more people to subscribe. Bad example of this is again http://xfep.com/ icon and text is barely visible and people really don’t like to look for feed icon. And also don’t make your feed icon too large it’s annoying and feed isn’t the main thing of your blog
Socialize, make a friends list – blogroll and participate in their discussions. Use social bookmarking and allow people to easily add your posts to their bookmarks like on Digg, Stumbleupon, Delicious etc because usually the most traffic for blogs comes from them.