10 Ways to Beautify Your Blog

Saturday, January 2, 2016







   "Hi, Hannah! 

Okay, every single time I come to your blog, I geek out about the design. It's beautiful and so clean. Is this something you've put together (are you technologically advanced? ;) Is there a place to go that has great tutorials on how to do stuff like this, or would you mind laying out a few tips/tricks for me?


Keep up the stellar writing God has gifted you with!
~Rachel
"



   Hello, lovely people! As you have probably guessed from the title & the quote, I am going to talk about blogging today. More specifically, blog design. I often get compliments on my blog's looks and layout! (And if you are one of the precious people who has in the past, here's a sincere thank you! You are awesome.) And just recently I had a question from Rachel about how I spruced up my blog. So I decided to answer it in a nice, big post. Because who doesn't like big blog posts??





  But before I begin, let me say that I am not technologically advanced AT ALL. Ugh... I'm terrible at computer stuff & generally end up asking for my father or teenage brother to lend me a hand when my techy-stuff goes awry. I am not a professional at writing, blogging, or designing. So don't feel like I am the source for any of this advice. This post is merely to help out my blogging-buddies & share a couple of little tips I have picked up along the way.

Feel free to mix and match these different techniques I've compiled & check out the website links I've added! You might find some helpful goodies there too! <3




1.) Less Is Definitely More

   Before you even get started re-decorating your blog, remember what you mother always says: "Less is more." I know it's a cliche, but it is the truth. Simplicity has a certain charm about it, making the said simple thing more approachable and easier to deal with. This also applies to your blog.
   Pick out a few colors that go together. You can even go online & pull up hundreds of color pallets to help you decide. But you should know that a good rule of thumb is limiting your colors to 3 at a time. Much more than that, and you have colors fighting for the spotlight & overwhelming your reader's eyes! So pick a few colors (preferably one or two normal colors & one neutral. Or, two neutrals & one normal color. It's really up to your discretion!)
   If you will look at my pallet, it's light shade(s) of pink, grey, and white. I am big on neutral colors though, so some people might find my tastes kind of plain. But that is my personal style! (Which we will touch on in a few moments.)

   Tip: I have found through personal experience that (in general) white blog backgrounds give off a more professional appearance & draw more attention to the small pops of color in the blog. Negative space is definitely something that can be utilized to your advantage. There are many exceptions to this idea, though. I have seen many bloggers who totally pull off a colored/busy background. I guess I'm just not one of these talented people. *shrugs*


2.) Theme Is Everything
 
   When you have your simple pallet picked, it's time to come up with a theme. If you have been blogging for awhile, you have probably found your niche in your writing topics. Now it's time to make your purpose obvious!
   Your blog's name, writing topics, and decor should all somehow connect with each other. When your reader clicks on your blog link & your homepage comes up, you want them to instantly realize, "Oh, she's a book-blogger," or, "Wow! Here's a movie-review blog." Find some sort of thread entwined with all of these pieces of your blog and unite them. This is where your personal style begins to shine! Put yourself into it, and don't make the blog you want someone else to read. Make the blog that you would want to read.

   Tip: Your blog title/header is the first thing people notice. Make it pop! That is generally where you should focus this theme, and reinforce it throughout the rest of your site. Put a splash of color there, pick a pretty font, and maybe even some sort of picture/digital design.


3.) Fewer Fonts

   Here's a secret: I'm a sucker for fabulous fonts. And sadly, I have had to learn self-control when it comes to using fonts in my design-work. If I could, I would use a little bit of EVERYTHING! There are so many cool ways to letter your words... But as I said above, less is more. I found that when I toned down the excess crazy fonts, I was happier with how my blog looked & felt.
   When in search of a font, save the fabulous, decorative one's for your blog title, post title, or something else of that nature. But make sure it's READABLE. I know how tempting it can be, but try to exercise some restraint. Your readers' eyes will thank you.
   If you must use more than one font (totally guilty, by the way! *raises hand*) then stick to two. Three CAN be done, but it does push my brain's limit. I find that I like blogs that allow my eyes to relax a bit & not constantly have a new font that resembles a different language at every turn.

   Tip: Think like a reader. Do your eyes get exhausted from just one glance at your home page? Is your work unreadable? Does that T look too much like an I? Experiment & find out what works best for you! 


4.) Explore the Internet
 
   This is something I now do on a regular basis. Everything can always be improved. Exploring the internet was how I designed this current version of Plottinger Twist! Many people don't realize it, but there are tons of tutorials on how to spruce up your blog on your own. Utilize Google, YouTube, and Pinterest! I know it sounds like an obvious thing to do, but I am embarrassed at how late in the game this simple thing occurred to me. It blew me away at how many Blog-Design blogs there are out there & how easy it was to learn how to do some of the things I admired in other blogs. Most of it was just a matter of copy & paste!

   Tip: Google "Blog Design Tutorials" and check out a few of them! And, as a wise school teacher once said, "Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!" (~Miss Frizzle, the Magic School-Bus)
 

5.) Play With Different Programs
 
   I am a photo-editing/cinematography geek, and I am here to tell you to play around with photo-editing software. There are soooooo many uses for it in blog design!! My header picture is from a photo editor. My post-title pictures are made in a photo editor. My profile picture was shaped in a photo editor. The possibilities are endless. In short, just play around with digital design work. It can be lots of fun, and it is a useful skill.

   Tips: PicMonkey is my personal favorite! I started using it when Picnik shut down, (a few years ago,) and I haven't looked back since. They have a Premier edition (WHICH IS AWESOME!!) and a free edition (which is awesome too!) Both are good, and I suggest starting out with the free version. I just recently subscribed to the Premier version of PicMonkey, and while it is FABULOUS, I have gotten along without it for years. Upgrading is always an option!


6.) Always Add a Picture
 
   Remember how I just said you should try picture-editing? Well, many statistics say that people are more likely to click on an online article if there is a thumbnail picture with it. It adds a little extra oomph to the posts & to the look of your blog.

   Tips: Make sure your thumbnails on your posts let the reader know exactly what the article is about! It's generally best to put use a font in the picture to make EXTRA sure that people know what the post is about. Seriously, it's important.


7.) Learn *Some* HTML Code
 
   *GASP* Ohmygosh... Tell me you did not just say HTML??

    Yep, I did. And yes, I know basically nothing about it. (I told you, I'm not techy at all!) But I do know enough to copy & paste free codes from design blogs, and how to change to colors/sizes in thing(s) the code affects. These little skills are helpful when designing.
   Now before you think about doing it, don't go trying to cram it all in your head at once! I tried... It doesn't work. You will get frustrated & want to give up instantly. But do try to learn things one at a time. For example, find the answer the question "How do I center this picture in my side bar?" Google it, and you will find that a 'center' code is <center> at the beginning of the code for your picture, and </center> at the end. Taadaa... You know a piece of code!

   Tip: Please, do yourself a favor, and learn how to backup your blog before you even touch your HTML. I have made the terrible mistake of not doing this, thinking I was invincible to error, and misplaced code a few times. It is stressful & can ruin your entire blog if you don't.

8.) Don't Down Freebies

   I tend to be a bit of a cheapskate when it comes to spending on myself. It's a rare thing for me to spend a bunch of money on something personal, like my blog. As a matter of fact, I have yet to buy anything for this blog! It's all from freebie blogs!! If you really don't feel comfortable with designing the whole thing on your own, these are an excellent supplementary places to visit. 

   Tips: here are a few good places to find freebie templates, decorations, & tutorials... Blogger Candy, Shabby Blogs, The Cutest Blog on the Block, Blogaholic Designs, The Blog Guidebook.



9.)  Stalk Other People's Blogs

   Hahaha! Yeah, that was kind of a joke.

   But seriously, you need to look at other blogs. You need to see what other people do to their blogs to help you create an idea of what you like in a blog design & what you don't like. This is really helpful when looking for inspiration for your design as well. If you like one aspect of someone's blog, recreate it with your own special flare! (For instance, I didn't realize that there was such a thing as using a picture for my blog title. I went for months without that knowledge & my blog kinda ended up blending in with a bunch of others.) Imitation is the greatest form of flattery. Just don't copy their stuff exactly. Put your own twist on what you see.
   Also, ask questions! Other bloggers who have more experience than you can sometimes be very helpful. Everyone starts out as a beginner who just wants the world to hear what they have to say on an attractive-looking website! Many people will remember their early days & will be willing to answer your questions and give advice.

   Tip: Bookmark blogs with fabulous design! (Here's a few of my favorites... Paper FuryThe Daisy TreeWords Passing You ByTaking DictationGrace In Everything, Opal Swirls, The Curious Wren, The Jumping Bean.)




10.) The BIG Question...

   Everyone who is into blog-design has heard & asked the big question: Blogger or WordPress? And I have a rather lame-sounding answer...

   I chose Blogger because I was familiar with it. It feels easier for me, personally, to use it & it seems simpler to operate. You can get away with more free stuff and, from what I understand, it's easier for bloggers to do more of their own design-work as opposed to WP.
   HOWEVER, there are perks to Wordpress. (I even considered switching over not too long ago! *gasp* Imagine that?) It's less work to get a "clean & professional" look at the beginning. And there are lots of cool things that it can do that blogger can't... 

   In the end, it's what you are comfortable with. There is not magic formula to tell you which one you should use, and I won't say one is any better than the other. It's all in your perspective & with your personal experience! :)



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~




   Well, guys, I hope that was a somewhat interesting read for you. I know it's something out of the ordinary for me to post on a topic like this, but I thought it would be an interesting way to start out the New Year! It's good to try new things, right?

 


   So how have all of you been? Have you missed me? What's new? Are you doing anything cool this month? What have you been reading? Lemme know in the comments!! AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!




Currently Reading:The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Just Finished: The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
Listening to: Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling via Audible.com









10 comments :

  1. I'm thinking of doing some changes on my blog so this post was rather well timed. Thank you!

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    1. Hey, Skye! :) Oh, glad I could be of assistance! Haha! I know lots of bloggers like to sort of "freshen up" at the start of a new year, so I was hoping the timing on this post would be good... Thanks for reading! And I hope this helps! <3

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  2. Eeeeep. Thanks for listing my blog as one of the ones with a nice design. I SHALL DANCE NOW. *parties quietly* And I definitely agree with all these tips! LESS IS MORE. And experimenting is great! I know lots of bloggers who are really consistent with their graphics and post-pictures...but I haven't managed that yet. I just keep trying out new things. :P Like a graphicy design post or a photography post....xD It's too fun. But consistency is still good. *nods sagely* And also white backgrounds = EVERYTHING. It drives me batty when I arrive on a blog that has a dark background and it's hard to even read it. It doesn't inspire me to stay. >_>

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    1. Hiya, Cait! :) No problemo! I ADORE your blog design, so how could I NOT list it?? lol! *dances with you* Girl, I am totally there with you... Experimenting is too much fun!! I'm sure one day, when I am a sage, wise, old blogger, I will find some consistency. (One day? O-o)
      ACKKKK!! THANK YOU for liking white backgrounds!! I'm glad I'm not the only one. :D

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  3. 'Less is more' is my rule of thumb when working on my blog design. If in doubt, take it out :) When I click on a blog without a white background or a hard font to read, I want to scream :')
    And I totally stalk other blogs to learn from their designs :) Thanks for the mention!

    Happy new year! :)

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    1. Hey, Opal! :) Yes, yes, YES! That rule was not in my book when I started out blogging. Ugh... I wish it had been. :P And TEAM LIGHT BACKGROUNDS & SIMPLE FONT FOR THE WIN!! I think to myself, "I want to know what you are saying, but I can't READ iiiiittttt!!" X'D
      Girl, I'm pretty sure the Blogging Rulebook says that if you don't stalk other blogs, then you aren't a real blogger. Just saying... :) And no problem! <3

      Happy new year, darling! :D

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  4. For #7, Youtube is another great source for tutorials if you need to code something and it looks intimidating. An update of Wordpress randomly (and drastically) reduced my upload file limit, and the only way to fix it was to go in and mess with the code. Turns out, there was a step-by-step Youtube video on how to create a php file to do exactly that. I don't even know what a php file really IS, and I managed to pull it off without a hitch. Crisis averted! :)

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    1. Hi, Alison! :) Oh, good heavens, yes! YouTube is a life-saver!! XD That's awesome how you were able to use it to fix a problem & you didn't have to memorize a bunk of crazy stuff... CRISIS ADVERTED! *fist bump*

      Thanks for reading! <3

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  5. These are wonderful tips! And your blog exemplifies a clean, unique, and fun blog design! Love!

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    1. Hey, Hannah! :) Awe... Thank you! I'm glad you like it. Yours is ADORABLE too!! <3

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