Since my re-launch in September I've received the nicest emails, tweets, and comments regarding my blog redesign. Recently I was asked how one starts a blog redesign including tips on pulling inspiration. I gathered a few tips based on personal experience and works of successful bloggers.
Why redesign your blog?: To keep your content and layout consistent and fresh. It's also a great way to show your readers you care. I know it can seem intimidating, especially if you've established a consistent viewership. The itch to redesign my blog came when I realized that my layout no longer reflected my main topics. I recently read Blog, Inc. by Oh Joy! and she mentions the desire to re-vamp comes every year or so, which makes a lot of sense. Our blogs are constantly evolving as we grow. 1. Decide the top 3-5 main topics of your blog: In her post, "How to Start Your Blog with a Bang", Elsie Larson from A Beautiful Mess, suggests picking a general theme (food, fashion, crafts, lifestyle). If you're having trouble labeling your blog narrow down what you enjoy posting about the most or sub-categories. For example, fashion blogger Daniela Ramirez from Nany's Klozet posts mostly outfits, but I know if I come visit her blog I'll find fun ways to remix outfits.
2. Think of a blog layout based on your topics not name: I must admit I wanted to put up a cartoon drawing of myself baking in a kitchen dressed in head-to-toe couture. However, I don't post outfits like that. It was more important for me to have a blog design that reflected my topics: fashion finds, recipes, easy crafts, and beauty tips. For example, if you visit Joy the Baker you'll automatically feel like you've entered an online cook book. What you won't find is (the overdone) cupcake and apron icon everywhere (no offense!).
3. Pick 2 blogs who fit you're theme and make a list: I admire Emily Schuman's, Cupcakes & Cashmere and Lauren Conrad's, The Beauty Department. For me I liked how clean and easy to navigate Cupcakes & Cashmere is as well as her attention to detail and picture quality. I love the beautiful, warm, and inviting color scheme at The Beauty Department.
4. Narrow down what you want based on your list & theme: I decided I like a design that's easy to navigate (simple), feels like a lifestyle blog with warm colors and attention to details.
5. Create a color, font, and texture inspiration board: This is the fun part! Now that you know what you want create folders in your navigation bar of websites you like and pictures from pinterest. Tear pages out of magazines, take screen shots on your phone of instagram photos. Whatever it is collect, collect, collect. You never know what you really want until you let yourself figure it out. When I started I thought I wanted to use teal colors. As I collected images I realized my eye was drawn towards pinks and corals.6. Decide on a budget: Now that you know what you want, decide how much you want to spend before you get started. A redesign of anything can get pricey.
7a. Execute the design process by doing it yourself: Some of you may be talented when it comes to designing. I'm definitely not one of those people. I have no idea on how to use code. If you are interested in doing it yourself here are a few options. Elsie Larson at A Beautiful Mess blog offers great e-course tutorial options on blog design."For Dummies" books on your hosting site i.e. Wordpress for Dummies can be a big help. Even try a web-design course at a local community college. Community colleges offer financial aid and sometimes even fee waivers for those who qualify. If you are looking simply to add minor details Mandy Ferrugia from Miss Indie Designs blog has a great Blogging 101 series where she shares easy tricks and tips like how to create a favicon.
7b. Execute the design process by purchasing a pre-made template: Maybe you already know what you want and are ok with a template. Etsy.com features talented designers who share template codes for a reasonable price. Make sure you purchase a template that fits your hosting site i.e. Typepad or Blogger. I really like this for a street fashion blog and this one for a more vintage feel. You can always add small details and make tweaks later on (see 7a above).
7c. Execute the design process with the help of a designer: I worked with Leigh Ann from Freckled Nest Designs. LA is a talented designer who really captured my vision. I credit most of what I've learned to her and her wonderful staff of experienced bloggers. If you feel you want to take the big leap and purchase a redesign start paying attention to who designed your favorite bloggers site. Usually if you scroll down to their blog footer there will be a link. Shop around, make sure you not only find a designer who you fit with, but that you like. Working with someone reliable and nice is key.
I read & appreciate all comments!