24 July 2013

Lessons learnt from blog designing

Blog designing is in turn frustrating and rewarding and whilst I am happy with the end results, five years of tinkering with blogs and particularly tinkering this time around has taught me a few things.

This is what I have learnt:

Have a big picture.
I don’t necessarily plan in detail what I want to do but I do work out what I like and what sort of feel the blog will have. That meant working out that I wanted a clean and uncluttered feel which led to decisions on minimal colour and capitalization throughout.

Take it step by step.
I think blog design can be totally overwhelming. Break it down and start simple. Take your header for example. The whole look of your blog can be determined by the header and background. I made these in photoshop before touching anything on the blog. Concentrate on one thing at a time.

Google is your best friend:
I type everything and anything into google regarding blog design. At one point I wanted to work out how to add that dashed line under the post title so I typed just that into google. Two seconds later I had found a code and copy and pasted it. It really didn’t require any understanding!

Be prepared to be totally fussy.
Your blog design will only be as good as you are prepared to make it. I knew that for my own piece of mind I had to be prepared to be incredibly picky. All of the greys for instance had to be two precise shades.
Maybe this is just me but I know that if I did it by half measures I would spend a year or so unsatisfied with the design. (reading back that is probably just me!) 

At the same time let it go.
There were a few things I wanted to do with CPD which just weren’t feasible. I googled and the instructions just looked too complicated. I wasn’t prepared to spend the time to get them right. The risk of getting them wrong was too great. I therefore let it go. Be picky on what you know you can do and be selective in what you choose to do.
I figure its better to do a few things well than try everything and be scrappy.

It takes time and practice
Each time I redesign I get more adventurous. I think this is the biggest redesign I have done but that is because it is the third or fourth time around.
Start small. There is nothing wrong with just changing your header or the font of your posts. As I said before it has to be done in small steps.
I still don’t tackle the HTML. I think it will be a few more blog redesigns before I get to that stage.

There is no right or wrong.
Change your design or don’t change your design. Blogging is about a lot more than what your blog looks like. I find this process satisfying but I totally know that it is not for everyone.
The best thing about blogging is that it can be what you want it to be. For me that means playing with how my blog looks. 

From reading through the comments the vibe I was getting was that lots of us lack confidence in blog design. I am in the process of putting together some form of electronic guide which will be more step by step. I am no expert though but I think that is key. Blog designing is something very accessible and with a bigger document I hope to share some of my story, tips and how I gained confidence in blog design. 


Beverly said...

Great job, Abi, it looks clean and uncluttered and you give great advice. Blog design doesn't call my name but I am sure your follow up guide will help many bloggers :)

alexa said...

I really like the results and your tips are so practical and useful. Looking forward to more technical stuff when you have time :).

Karen said...

Thanks, Abi. I'm looking forward to the next posts.

Amy said...

All good practical and encouraging advice Abi - thank you. I use google for a lot of PS hints and tips and it really is the go-to-all I think!

My sidebar is what frustrates me, and my profile pic area ... I might have to do some googling!

Miriam said...

Some great tips here Abi. Like Amy it's my side bar that I constantly want changed but I take it one step at a time too but I love to play with the design.

What on earth did we do before Google?

Deb @ PaperTurtle said...

Fantastic post, Abi. I have found that on the FEW occasions I've played with code/blog design I have been successful, but only when I dedicated the time and really concentrated on what I was doing! You're right, you can find just about anything via Google!

I look forward to hearing more tips on blog design from you in the future! :o)

Maria Ontiveros said...

I need to get on my computer to really see the new design (reading on my phone now), but I do like your header. I want my pictures to be bigger on my blog. But I have never done anything to change my blog since the initial design!