Blogging 101 | Aesthetics

September 7, 2016 9 Comments

Blogging 101 | Aesthetics

September 7, 2016 9 Comments

After a week off, Blogging 101 is back. Today, we’re going
to chat about aesthetics or blog design if you like. This topic is a favorite
because I love blog design, it’s second only to (or tied with) writing (my
favorite aspect is the community and YOU). Over the years, my style has evolved
dramatically and changed drastically. For me, this is good because I
feel like I’ve “grown up” a lot in all aspects of my blogging and I’m grateful
for that. It follows that with that, style would change too.

So, what will we discuss below? Design with tips or advice I can offer. Before we get started, I just
want to begin with the following. This post is simply a collection of tips I
find helpful. I am in no way suggesting any of these tips are the only
“know-how” way to design, set up or create a blog. They are simply my
experiences and preferences. The great thing about blogging is that it’s
subjective. We can create the space we love best and whatever that is, it’s our space and so long as its
user-friendly (which is an important asset), that’s the beauty of an individual
blog. 
 

Let’s take a look at those tips.  
 

Basics| If
you’re not into design or don’t want to pay anyone to create a
template/design/branding for you, Blogger and WordPress offer a few free
premade templates that makes it easy to get started. 
 

Blogger | Click
on “template,” and you’ll discover their premade templates. Once there, you
simply click the magnifying glass you’ll see when you hover over the options. A
larger image will display that allows you to preview the design with your blog.
Once you find the template you like best, simply click the bright orange “apply
to blog” button and you have your template. 
 

You’ll also be able to click the “customize” button if you’d
like to change the text, color or header image, and even edit the CSS code in
the advanced portion. Voila. You now have an operating blog. 
 

WordPress | WordPress
too offers premade designs under “appearance” (on the left sidebar of your
dashboard) and then “themes.” You can search the free options by clicking the
free option in the upper right corner. 
 

The downside of WordPress is that’s pretty much where the
customization ends. If you want an extreme makeover with the template you
chose, you have to pay for premium upgrades or hosting. 
 

Blogger allows
you to edit until your heart’s content (if you’re a creative soul who
constantly “tweaks” things as I am, this will not make you happy). Unless your uncomfortable with messing with Blogger’s HTML, your options are endless.
Before you become overwhelmed, know this. I was and still am a novice with
HTML, but with persistence and through trial and error, I’ve self-taught myself a
lot (because who knew Google searches could yield worthless results!?). As a
result, I’m slowing learning more and more though I won’t be opening any kind
of template design store. 

(You can find some great free resources for design avenues
and templates if you don’t like Blogger’s free options.)

Space | Though it
didn’t begin this way, personally I love clean “space.” I gravitate towards
“professional” with touches of what I hope is warmth as I find ways to add
color. This means, yes, I like white space. I know not everyone does, and
that’s perfectly okay. I’m not saying my way is right and someone else’s idea
is wrong. Or vice versa. This is simply my own personal preference. To me it
looks nice and allows me to keep a.) the content and b.) the header design
(which I nearly always design myself) at the forefront without template
distractions which is the primary goal. 
 

Text | My next
two tips tie into easy user-friendly reading. One being text. Most of the time,
as a reader, I find it easiest to read a simple text like Georgia, Arial or
Calbri (one or all of these is usually already on your computer). I know, all of those fancy texts are beautiful, but this is where you
can have fun with customizing. This could include a fancy text headlining your
post title or maybe the time and date widget. Or put all that fancy text in your header designs, create fun graphics or sidebar advertisements (for your weekly memes, features or an Etsy store).

Ease of Use | A
few tips I’ve found helpful (again, speaking as a reader) and offer easier
browsing: 
 

+ Home | Make
sure your header image is enabled to allow readers to click it and return to
your home page. I’m not sure if this a template by template option or if you
enable it as a blogger (mine is automatically tied into my header image and/or nav bar – the menu bar at the top of the site). 
 

+ Menu | Ensure
you have a good menu set up. Some things to share on said menu: 
 

– Do you have a store on Etsy? Advertise it on your menu.
– Do you have an easy to navigate archive page full of your
reviews? Yep, sneak that on a menu.
– Have you written an “about me” page? That should definitely
be on your menu.
– Do you offer advertising or any other services? Check, and
check.
 
– If you’re a contributor or member of a program, go ahead and share about this work.

Though not necessary, a personal preference of mine is a “drop-down menu” as my template has. I like it better because it allows me to put more on my menu without moving into a second line of text/code.

A search bar is also very helpful especially if you’re
looking to make your blog double as a professional outlet and fun hangout. Or if you’re a prolific reviewer with impressive archives.

Customizations | In
the end, there are endless sources of fun you can have with the design and “look”
of your blog. If you want it to become a professional outlet, “branding” is a
good idea. If you want it to be nothing more than a hobby blog where you can
meet like minds, play with the countless options you have. 
 Colors, design and templates are endlessly available. In fact, one of the more popular free resources is The Cutest Blog on the Block. I’ve not used them, but I’ve visited countless blogs who have. (If there’s interest, I might post a separate information post about resources, or even specific sources I use.)

One of my more recent additions (in comparison to what I
went with in the early days) is a slider, which you can easily spotlight preferred
posts with a simple ‘featured’ tag (attached to both your post and the HTML
portion via your “layout” page gadgets). Ironically not long after I added mine, I read
somewhere that they were passé, but I thought, “Whatever! I like mine.” Plus I
see lots of websites still utilizing them, and contemporary web designers are continuing
to add them to their new lines of templates. 
 

Conclusion | In
the end, no matter what, make sure your space reflects YOU. If you don’t like
what its wearing or you’re not comfortable with the design, your writing or
content might not reflect YOU, and that’s part of what makes your webpage,
well, you
_________________________________

If you have any specific questions, feel free to head over
to the Google Doc to pose them or comment down below. 
 

What are some of the best tips or suggestions you have to share about design?

Thank you for visiting Finding Wonderland.
 

SHAREABLES:

Blogging 101 | Aesthetics http://bit.ly/2bZmAsB #BloggingTips #FindingWonderland via @RissiJC

Blogging 101 Continues with Aesthetics http://bit.ly/2bZmAsB #Blogger #FindingWonderland via @RissiJC

Disclosure: this series was created with you, the reader, in mind. The tips myself and the contributing bloggers have shared aren’t the only methods on “how to” blog. They’re simply a collection of helpful ideas and tips that we’ve found useful. We’re still learning to, and look forward to learning more through this series.

Rissi JC

amateur photog. #bookblogger. downton abbey. inspys. internet-photo-shy. writer. the aspiration is to someday write professionally. a girl can dream, right?

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9 Comments

  • Catherine September 8, 2016 at 3:26 am

    I really like these tips, especially ones on how to make it easy for your visits to view your content. After all, people are there to check out your words, so don't make it a challenge. :D Thankfully current trends help with this problem, and so popular themes have white space and larger text with contrast already in it.

    I remember when I started in web design, the trend was teeny tiny text with very small line-height and in tiny columns, often with a dark grey on a black background and so forth. (I still shudder thinking about it.)

    • Rissi September 12, 2016 at 11:41 pm

      Thanks, Catherine. I hope they're helpful to someone. I've learned through trial and error basically. As tough as that is, sometimes that's the best way to learn things – I think, generally, you remember the "lesson" more in that case. :)

      Ooo… yeah, that trend doesn't sound good/easy to read at all. Thankfully we grew out of that! :)

  • Molly's Book Nook September 8, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    Lovely tips! I'm thinking of doing a little revamp of my blog. I've neglected the design for a while and I feel like it's gotten a bit messy. Also, I love the design of your blog! It's gorgeous :)

    Molly @ Molly's Book Nook

    • Rissi September 12, 2016 at 11:42 pm

      Hey, Molly. Thanks for the feedback. I hope everything holds some form of helpfulness. YAY for blog revamps. Those are always fun. Best of luck – I look forward to seeing your creative new look. :)

  • Julia Saraiva Gomez September 11, 2016 at 11:57 pm

    Loved this post Rissi! I've always ADORED your blog design so I loved getting your insider tips!

    • Rissi September 12, 2016 at 11:43 pm

      Hey, Julia; thank you! That's so nice of you to say. I have as much fun with the design as I do the writing. It's a constant learning curve which is sometimes the most worthwhile. :) Glad you stopped by!

  • Joanne Bischof September 17, 2016 at 10:38 pm

    What a fantastic topic for you to cover, Rissi. your blog is always one of the prettiest around! And I adore your fall header :o)

    • Rissi September 23, 2016 at 11:47 pm

      Joanne, thank you so much for the kind words and for visiting. It's my pleasure to be a small part of this book community. Thanks! I had fun putting this one together though knowing me I'm sure I'll be tweaking it now and again. ;)

  • Sue @ Crushingcinders March 3, 2019 at 11:41 pm

    Thanks for the tips. I love your blog design.

    Sue @ Crushingcinders recently posted: Adding to Your TBR – March 2019
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