Best and Worst Designed: Top 10 Financial Blogs

February 18, 2012
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Originally published in 2012, I’m updating this Best & Worst Design: Top 10 Financial Blogs post.
You can find the original post at the bottom. 

Re-doing this popular post was an interesting exercise because of the vastly different results I got this time. Back in July 2012, the results were dominated by smaller blogs owned by individuals. They were heavy on text, and light on images or white space.

This year, as of Feb 2024 – 12 years later! – the results were almost all large businesses. This makes sense, as companies that started pursuing SEO, ended up spending copious amounts of money on it. Since they had more financial backing, they easily pushed out the smaller blogs from the top rankings. I tried to find some blogs in these results, but I had to scroll down quite a few pages of Google to find them. Regardless, here’s the results as best I could find:

Money Crashers

I figured I’d start where I started before: Moneycrashers.com. This one was ironically one of my favorite designs. The colors keep the green of many money blogs, but the deep navy helps to make it less obvious. The crown in the logo’s orange is also replicated in the highlight color. It utilizes the standard banner, but without an image. There’s also a trend of overlapping images / buttons that they utilize. Very nice, overall.

Money Crashers

Ellevest

I also found an interesting trend in the results: the disappearance of “coupon cutting” female-focused blogs, and more women investing blogs. It’s a good move! Ellevest.com was my second favorite of the results. Again, lots a green, but using shades of green including the lime green as a highlight color. This one follows my other favorite design trend of boxes – the top banner is actually two boxes, and then they provide two separate options for users. Lots of “white” space as well.

Ellevest

The Muse

This financial blog is from a company to help people find work. TheMuse.com’s bright and fun colors inject some hopefulness into a situation that typically is viewed with annoyance. While the website is simple, clean, and well-organized, after the initial beautiful pop here, the rest of the home page seems a bit muted. Some additional color and design later on down the page would be helpful.

The Muse

Credit Karma

With credikarma.com we’re leaving the more modern designs and starting to move back about 5 years. While the Credit Karma website has some nice white space and bright colors (still utilizing green), it looks a little older. The fonts are smaller and the top header links are extensive. Despite the effort on the banner, it just doesn’t quite work.

Credit Carma

Facet

Ironically, though I’m putting Facet.com here in the list, it has a very empty feeling. Normally white space is incredibly important, but this website, despite this layout being modern, just doesn’t hit right. I’m also not a huge fan of the primary CTA; it’s just a little unclear as to the exact service they’re offering since there are many ways to give financial advice.

Facet

Ramsey

Of course Ramsey will be in the top results, as he has been extremely popular over the last decade. Ramsey.com is well-done. It has good size text, even on the links, an engaging call to action, and a good amount of white space. Despite this, it seems a bit boring. While the header, banner, and boxes underneath have become increasingly common, people are getting tired of this design. You’ll see it below in the other designs as well.

Ramsey

Savvy Ladies

Another women financial website, SavvyLadies.com follows the same common design structure as Ramsey. I’m not personally a fan of the weird color combo, but it is unique. The fonts are tiny here, but they also have some issues with text line spacing. It feels a bit blah, and the rest of the page doesn’t help.

Savvy Lades

Bankrate

Another corporate website,  Bankrate.com tried to add the CTAs at the top so they can sort people into what they’re looking for. But the lack of images leaves the site feeling cold. The small text, standard layout, and boring navy color doesn’t help. This is a very text-heavy site. They did try to modernize the design a bit as the page scrolls down. A few more images could really help!

Bank Rate

NerdWallet

Coming in at #9, Nerdwallet.com has been around for a while. This site is just… a lot. Too wide, lots of green shades that seem a bit random, and an amazing amount of links in the first screen. They’ve done some work to modernize the look, but I’m personally not a fan. It might be someone else’s cup of tea!

Nerd Wallet

Barron’s

And finally, the full news site. like other news sites, barrons.com has very little white space, with lots of information clamoring for your attention. However, the text focus and the decision to not have bold colors really helps make it seem digestible. As you scroll down, there are more images that help break up the text, but the focus on text does work for them. Not too bad for a news site.

barrons website


Original Post – 2012

I love reading about finances. If I’m not reading a blog about web development, I’m often reading one about money. I find it fascinating that despite the fact that every single person will deal with money on a daily basis, virtually no standard education is provided regarding how to use it well. I’ve never once been required to take a class focusing on money management; in fact, when I took a class in college regarding investing in stocks, I was the ONLY person in the class that was not required to be there because of their major – and I got weird looks.

But this blog isn’t about money, actually, it’s about the design of the top 10 financial blogs. It’s important to keep in mind that some of these are designed terribly, and yet still are in the top 10: Content (and the adaquate organization of that content) is far more important then the design.

I found these “top” 10 Financial blogs through Money Crashers who rate them according to about 9 criteria including google rankings, twitter followers, alexa rankings, etc. (criteria used can be found on their website).

1st Place – Money Saving Mom

 

Money Saving mom website

This one won by a penny! (yep. Just said that.) I like it because of the well designed logo, the organization of the links, and the way she created icons/logos for each of the items in the second row of links. Also, it didn’t have the crowded feel some of the others did.

Runner-Up – Deal Seeking Mom

printable coupons

I loved the texture on the top as well as the subscribe “tags” on the right, but the logo wasn’t as good, and the main page has no clear hierarchy for my eyes.

3rd Place – Mint Life

The Mint Blog

The Mint Blog broke out of the standard look for financial websites, and went with a minimalist design. I think it went a little too minimalist, specifically with the header. But the hierarchy is nice and clear.

4th Place – The Consumerist

the consumerist

I like the header bar of this one because it is so distinct; it set itself apart from the page below. The links on the left are obviously the blog, while the sidebar items are boxed to keep them organized.

5th Place – Get Rich Slowly

Get Rich Slowly

I regularly read Get Rich Slowly, but the design is just so-so. The hierarchy is evident, but the design is outdated – more 90’s style.

6th Place – Wise Bread

wise bread personal finance

This is another blog I regularly read. I LOVE the logo and tag line. It’s beautiful. The blue and green colors are great. But it has some serious errors: an ad at the top (I absolutely hate this), an ad to the left of the logo (What?!?), and your eye doesn’t really know where to go. I do love the link bar and the slideshow on top, though.

7th Place – Money Crashers

money crashers

Money Crasher’s lists its own site in the top 10 – possibly rigged? The basic design is actually fine, but the ads at the top don’t line up with the sidebar/main page below which just confuses the eye. If they lined the Ad up, it would drastically help the design.

8th Place – Consumerism Commentary

consumerism commentary

And now we’re getting to the bottom of the barrel. An old logo, random ad in the middle of the top header bar, small fonts on the link bar, and hierarchy nightmare. But it gets worse.

9th Place – My Money Blog

My Money Blog Personal Finance

So I’m assuming this is a guy who just started blogging about money and it took off. But this is about judging design, and his design is not good. The name is just a boring font on top. Looks like he started with one sidebar, and then added another when he added advertisements – it’s a terrible look.

But here’s the thing: this is obviously a guy who’s making money on blogging, so, as another blogger, I’m really happy for him.

Last Place – Bargaineering

Bargaineering Personal Finance Blog

This site combines all the crappy stuff in the other sites: a bad logo (please – don’t use clip art for your logo!), an ad that moves (the zip code thing is constantly moving), an ad in the header, and tiny fonts for the link bar. Add to that a grey/blue color pallet and you’ve got a design that can only be described as “bla”.

Summary

These are the top 10 – the TOP 10 – financial blogs. So while design is beautiful and important, it just goes to show that if you start with awesome content, even a terrible design won’t (completely) hold you back.

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