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 start, 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.
BLOGGING 101: AESTHETICS
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.Blogging 101: The One About Aesthetics #FWarchives Click To Tweet
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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,
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 blogging 101 aesthetics tips or suggestions do you have to share about design?
Thank you for visiting. Come back soon!
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.