Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Designing Blogs

Today on the blog please welcome Belle and Bryan as they discuss their viewpoints on blog design.  Stick around and add your viewpoint, too!  

Now, introductions! 

You can find Belle at  http://msbookish.com and http://msbookish.tumblr.com.

You can find Bryan at http://stillunfinished.com and as a moderator for the Book Bloggers Discussion Group.


Belle Wong  Belle's Take:

For me, a blog design is all about the header. I use Wordpress, and the selection of themes is really quite amazing; most of them can look quite distinctive just by adding a custom headerYou can end up with quite a nice look just based on the theme alone, but a customized header makes it distinctly yours, and lets you pull everything together, by picking social media icons and colors (for links, sidebar headers, post titles, etc) that match the colors in your header.  So when I decided I wanted a redesign for my blog, MsBookish.com, I was already using the Thesis theme, which I'd bought a while back, so all I was looking mainly for a well-designed header and a set of social media icons that matched the colors in the header.

I can't remember exactly how I found my designer, Don Naylor. I think it was on Twitter - someone had tweeted about the quality of his design work, and intrigued, I'd clicked over and checked out his site. At the time, he offered Wordpress designs and worked specifically with Thesis, so I took the plunge and contacted him about a design for MsBookish.com. (Unfortunately, shortly after he completed my design, he took on a large design project and I'm not sure whether he's doing much, if any, web designing these days.)

I am probably the world's worst website design client. I had no real idea what I wanted, other than the colors I liked (greens and blues). I was really amazed at the header he produced for me. He had me write him something about myself, so I told him all about what I liked to write and read. Then he actually drew/painted the picture and background for my header. I remember looking at the jpg he sent me in amazement - it turned out I did know exactly what I wanted, and the header Don designed was it! 

I got my new design early last year, and since then I've switched over to a different theme. The beauty of my header is that I can use it with any Wordpress theme that lets you use a customizable header. I'm proficient enough with HTML to change things like link and text colors in a new theme, so I managed to get my post titles and link colors the way I wanted them. In order to create consistency between my blog and my Tumblr, I also used the header in the Tumblr theme I chose. I probably should figure out how to use a part of it as my Twitter background, but that's a long way down at the bottom of my to-do list!



Bryan G.   Bryan's Take:

What do I think is good blog design? Less.

In my life recently, I've been attempting to do away with the clutter: physically, mentally and spiritually, well, more physically and mentally so far, but the spiritually will come. With my blog, I think I've tried to do away with the clutter too. The theme I use in my attempt to accomplish that...well...thematically...is the Shelf Theme via The Theme Foundry.

The most distinctive difference is that when you visit my blog, you scroll horizontally to see more posts (and to comment) instead of vertically like you would on most other blogs. However, that's not the only difference. As a result of the theme, there are no sidebars. A menu bar and social media icons are at the top, but along with the posts themselves, which I tend to keep short in keeping with the minimalism of the theme, a photo of me, the title and subtitle of the blog, that is all you see when you visit my blog. For me, it helps me not to get distracted and the idea is that hopefully you won't be either.

Speaking of which...

Oooh! Shiny!



We've heard from Belle and Bryan.  Now, I would love to know what YOU think. What kind of blog design captures your attention?  What kind of design makes you drop everything and read that blog?  What is YOUR take?  Share in the comments!  Inquiring minds what to know!




8 comments :

  1. I just visited Belle's blog and I have to say color me impressed. I especially like the header, the tabs at the top and the social media icons toward the top. Very nicely done. I know that I am trying to be consistent with my images across social media platforms: using the same profile photo and cover photo, so that wherever you visit me, there is at least one consistency. As for the rest of my life, I am as inconsistent as can be. ;)

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  2. Thanks for featuring me, Becca! I like the uncluttered look of Bryan's blog - I'm fond of the minimalist look but it's too hard for me because I'm always thinking of things to add. But I love visiting blogs that are uncluttered because they're so much easier to read.

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  3. I'm a huge fan of the minimalist look and I design my own blog to reflect my taste. I definitely agree that a huge part of the design lies in the header since it's the first thing visitors see. For me, I like to read blogs that have a simple layout with soothing colors.

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  4. Simplicity is the key, I believe, whether minimalist in name or not, Alice. Thanks for stopping by.

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  5. I agree with both these points, but particularly Bryan's - minimalism on a layout is pure joy to my eyes.

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  6. Ah, now I see... After visiting your blog, Alice. Very nice.

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  7. My blog is so not minimalist. I am like a child- attracted to colors and designs more than anything. Perhaps that is just me, though?

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  8. I'm late in reading this one, but thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on design! On my blog, I tend to lean towards a minimalist approach as well ... not quite as minimal as Bryan's though! I want the focus to be on the main content and simply use the sidebars (for the most part) for navigational purposes.

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