Remedial Blogging: The Look & Feel
Welcome back, class. Today we’re talking about the look and feel of your blog. First things first: What do you like in a blog? When I decided on a look for my blog, I studied the layouts of other blogs that I loved. I paid attention to small details: where is their profile photo and what does it look like? Do they have a synopsis of their posts or does the first page have a long scroll? How do you help you to follow them?
One of my biggest inspirations was Becky at Your Modern Family. I love the little squares all over her front page that direct you to various articles. It seems such a good way to put out a bunch of content without having an infinite scroll on the front page. To find a theme that would do this, I simply went through WordPress. From your WordPress dashboard, click “Appearance” then “Themes”. This will open up a new page showing you the themes you already have installed and available. At the top, click “Add New” and it opens up a preview of TONS of themes. To narrow down your results, click “Feature Filter” and start picking out the things that you like. The results pop up and you can scroll through, looking for one that inspires you. Once you find it, install and preview. This will give you the chance to play with the settings and decide what you like.
A word to the wise about WordPress themes: There are a lot of themes that pop up in WordPress that are actually just limited samples of a fuller theme that you need to pay for. Always check the reviews to be sure a theme is free. In my experience, I’ve purchased two themes: I think both were around $40. Both of them were found through WordPress. Both ended up being from companies in India. Both were beautiful in preview. Both had problems with the full version. Personally, I won’t pay for a pre-made theme through WordPress again. I might try a third party site or shell out the bigger bucks to have one built custom.
The next part of deciding on your look is to decide on a color scheme. Think of this as being a part of your brand. By having the same colors throughout your site and in use on your social media, you’ll be able to be easily recognized. When I think of easily identifiable blogs, there are two that come to mind instantly: I Heart Organizing and Elle & Co. Images from both of these sites are instantly recognizable because they’re so consistent. It’s a great thing.
So, for you to have your own signature branding, you need to pick your colors. There are a number of sites where you can view various colors together. My favorite is Design Seeds. The easiest way to use Design Seeds is to scroll through their pages and look for a little square of color that you like. Once you find a color you like, click it and it will open up all the images on the site that have that color in it. Then scroll through the results until you find the colors you like. If you hover over each of the little squares to the right of the image, it will display what’s called a “hex code” for each color. Think of these as color codes. It’s what you’ll type in to get that color. For me, I followed a teal color until I came across this image:
Most everything I do on So Domestically Challenged has these colors. It keeps my look consistent. It’s easy on the eyes and has contrast without being garish. The yellow is bright, but I only use it as an accent so it never becomes overpowering. The rest of the colors are muted and gentle.
Important to note: Make a note of your color’s hex codes. You’re going to need them over and over as things come up. I chose to keep this image in One Note and entered the hex codes next to each color. Then, when I need the colors, I can just copy/paste from OneNote. It only takes a second and I know the code won’t get lost.
Lastly, the “feel” of your website. In the business world, this is called the “UI” or “user interface”. How easy is it to find what you’re looking for on a site? Play with your site and make sure it’s easy for a stranger to use. Try to contact yourself. Can you find the information quickly? What about your most popular post categories? If I land on your site because I’m looking for parenting advice, can I easily find more parenting advice or do I have to swim through a sea of home decorating posts? These things make all the difference in whether or not someone feels comfortable on your site and wants to come back again and again.
In review: Find sites you like. Draw inspiration from them (but don’t copy). Get a layout that fits you. Pick a color scheme that’s user friendly. Make sure your site is easy to use and everything is quick and simple to find.