If you haven’t taken notice by now, I completely redid the look and feel of my blog. This is something I’d been itching to do for quite a while. Blog design is something that’s very new to me, but I love experimenting with it.
I definitely don’t have it down to a science, but I would love to share my experience rebranding my blog – why I did and how you can too. I promise it’s easier than you think!
The Decision to Rebrand
First of all, the term “brand” was very foreign to me when I first started blogging. Truth is, if you have a blog, it has a look and feel to it that you get to create. That = your brand. Just like brand names style themselves very specifcally, blogs do the same thing.
When I first started blogging, all I really wanted out of blog design was for it to look decent and different than other blogs. I immediately chose to go with the Genesis StudioPress framework to achieve a better look than the standard WordPress layout has to offer. The first layout I went with was Pretty Darn Cute Designs “Modern Blogger” theme. It is colorful, stylish, and unique. However cute it was, though, it was not me, and I couldn’t customize anything about it.
I decided to rebrand my blog because I wanted my blog – which is basically an extension of myself – to look and feel like me. Unfortunately, I’ve found that any layout with a premade design that doesn’t offer custom colors/fonts/etc. never feels like me. For some of you, a premade design may feel perfectly “you,” and that’s great. But since premade layouts are made by someone else, it feels like someone else when I look at it.
I knew that this meant I had to come up with my own, totally unique design.
Daunting? A little bit. Doable? Yes.
Deciding What You Want
When rebranding my blog, I thought it would come easy to figure out exactly what I wanted. I had a picture in my head of how I wanted my blog to look and feel. But getting that to translate into real images, fonts, colors, and shapes is a whole different story. Brand design took me some time because there are so many options to choose from!
I narrowed my decision-making down to a few questions that helped me create my brand image.
I asked myself…
- What color scheme do I most enjoy looking at/want for my blog?
I love mint green. It’s my color and it feels like me. Since mint is a pastel, I chose to work with other lighter pastel colors as well. I also chose coral as an accent color since it compliments mint green. There are color charts that can help you determine color compliments and schemes.
- How do I want my blog to feel & what designs reflect that feeling?
I got tired of my old design having little to no white space, which left my blog with a cluttered feeling. I want my blog to look cleaned up, polished, and have more white space. I want my blog to feel creative & sleek as well.
By adding more white space, picking a sleek font that I liked, and creating a textured font in my header, I feel I achieved the sleekness & creativity I desired. There is a little more of a whimsical, lofty feelings by the soft colors, extra white space and fun textures.
- What pre-made design elements do I already love that I can incorporate?
I loved my chevron background of my old layout so I used the same one. Nothing wrong with using what isn’t broken!
- What do I want others to think/feel/notice when they first arrive on my blog?
I want others to feel peaceful when the arrive at my blog. I wanted less noise and more stress relief when visiting. I feel that the color scheme and simpler header and light colors get that feeling across.
There’s a lot of questions you can ask yourself about blog design, but I found that these few helped me make solid decisions.
Actually Creating the Design
This process will look different for everyone. If you have little to no background in design or coding, you may be limited in what you can do to create a layout all by yourself. That being said, don’t be discouraged! There are plenty of options for you no matter your skill level.
I personally have intermediate design and coding knowledge. I know enough CSS and HTML coding to look up scripts that can change my layout. I don’t always know what I’m doing, but with some trial and error, I can usually get the results I want. However, I do not have enough skill to create a layout from scratch.
I am using the Prose Theme from StudioPress. This is the only layout for the Genesis Framework that offers customization. If you take a look at StudioPress, you’re sure to get distracted by other pretty themes. If you get one of those themes, it may serve you well for a while. Until you realize you’re sick of looking at it, want to change it, but can’t.
This is why I’ve chosen to go with a customizable framework and layout, so that when this design gets old, I can change it myself without paying extra. Prose offers customization in terms of background, font size, color, and face; a custom header of any size, and two different menu options. However, you can do customization with other layout frameworks like DIY Themes or WordPress’ Thematic theme, although I haven’t had experience with either.
To make any customizable layout framework work for you, you will need:
- a background image
- a header (that you can easily create in Pic Monkey)
- a color scheme to work with & hex codes to match
- social media icons (customized or not)
With those elements, you can get a base layout for your blog that you can build upon as you go. Depending on what platform you are using to build your blog, the actual steps of implementing these changes will look different. Any layout framework editor is going to come with instructions, FAQs, and should already be pretty user friendly. In Genesis, I can edit everything under the “Genesis” or “Appearance” menus in WordPress.
I have done some extra coding, which can be added in the “Edit CSS” tab. I’ve found all of this code online or just taken my current style sheet and modified it. What I love about this feature is that even though I am working with code, you can preview it before it goes live. This way I can see what the changes look like before making it live on my site.
Before you get overwhelmed with the thought of coding, I assure you that it’s easier than it sounds. And that I cheat. A great tool I have found for editing CSS coding is the “Inspect Element” option in Chrome. This literally lets you see the css code behind anything you click on. This way, you don’t have to come up with anything from scratch! Click here for an awesome step-by-step tutorial on that.
You can add extras later, like a customized about me sidebar image, matching sidebar images for popular topics/posts, customized social media icons (this is next on my list!), and so much more.
Basic Design Tips
I can’t walk every one of you through the process of creating a great design, but here are some basic suggestions and tips I have found handy.
1. Keep it simple. Less is always more.
2. Use no more than 4 colors for a color scheme, excluding white/black.
3. Don’t be afraid of some white space. It is your friend. It gives you & your readers some room to breathe & think.
4. Only use a background image if it can tile correctly. Please do us all a favor and do not use an image the produces background vomit when it doesn’t line up correctly.
5. Use images, fonts, and colors that reflect you in your header. Using your own images is also a lot better than using some random stock photo.
My best advice to anyone hoping to create their own design or even change their current design is this: Don’t be afraid to try something new. Don’t be afraid to start over a few times. Don’t be afraid to make your blog look different than everyone else’s. Just be you!
This post ended up being pretty long, so props to you if you’ve stuck with me this long. I assure you that your blog can look and feel how you want it to if you have two things: patience and creativity. Both of those will get you anywhere you need to go.
If you have any specific questions about blog design or what I’ve done to my blog, feel free to ask in the comments or email me at freeing imperfections at gmail dot com.
Questions for You:
- What about your blog design do you always wish you could improve?
- What’s your favorite design trend right now?