Monday, June 4, 2012

What Does Your Blog Design Say About You?

There are certain bloggers out there who happen to be a whiz at the tech aspect of blogging. They have a background in web design, computer programming, marketing, visual arts, or whatever. These skills give them a leg-up on building a successful blog.

What do I have? What does my blog design say about me? Well, I am a work in progress. For example, it was only two weeks ago that my fabulous blogging friend Carrie Butler (who happens to be one of those aforementioned whizzes) bestowed upon me a new blog header.

Don't you love it?

I do. It fits me perfectly because:

  • I love Huntington Beach and spend a lot of time there.
  • It is where my current manuscript is set.
  • The restaurant out on the Pier is named Ruby's--which is the name of the main character in my book.
  • I love the idea that those surfers in the water are paddling out and waiting their turn for the next big wave. I feel like I am out there as a writer. I'm still paddling, and I'm still waiting for my perfect wave.
  • It's beautiful...and I love beautiful.
But it's taken me a while to figure out how to build a visually dynamic and professional blog...and I'm still working on it. The two main ways I've learned is by 1) attending blog classes at writing conferences over the last several years; and 2) studying what other successful bloggers do. I'm coming up on one year of committed blogging, and if I had to bullet point the most important aspects of blog design knowledge I've attained, it'd be this:
  • Make your design YOU. We all have a style, a personality, a voice. Let your design reflect that. 
  • Make your design easy on the eyes. One of my biggest pet peeves is when blogs have backgrounds and font colors that are similar. I can't read white off-white words on a white page! And speaking of backgrounds, I tend to like the ones best that don't distract from the words on the page or sting my eyes. 
  • Make your design simple. When there is too much business and buttons and awards and gadgets strewn across the top and sides of the page, I don't even know where to start reading. I greatly appreciate when bloggers put the followers button near the top so I don't have to go searching for it. 
  • Make it easy for people to comment. Word verification and putting the comment button somewhere other than the end of the post, makes it difficult for me to do so. 
  • Make it professional. Always keep in mind that agents, editors, potential readers of your book are gaining an opinion of you through your blog. If you come across as organized, committed, and capable in design, you might just be the same kind of writer. 
So many of you have such fabulous blogs! Thanks for teaching me along the way. 

So what does your blog design say about you?

32 comments:

  1. FABULOUS post! I totally agree with all of it. And I love hearing all the details of what your header means to you!

    Hm. What does my blog say about me? That I like cookies. And that I can be bribed with cookies. TOTALLY professional. ;o)

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    1. Yours says that your hiding cookies in your cartoon cleavage! Just kidding. Count on me to make your cute little middle grade sweet design dirty. You, Peggy my dear, are the epitome of professional! I should have given you almost all the credit for teaching me how to design a blog.

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  2. Great post! I'm always trying to find a blog design that fits my personality without doling out big bucks for it. So I usually do searches for free blog templates. The downside is: I don't usually get what I want in a package--for instance, my new blog template is pretty and all, but some things I don't know how to fix by myself, like having the comment form on the bottom of the post, or adding share buttons. (Yeah, not tech-savvy here.)

    Someday I'll figure it out. *crossing fingers*

    I love your blog header, btw! And thank you for your super nice, super sweet comment on my blog. These days, I'm just feeling like a whale that's been beached on the shore. Yuck. But just a few more weeks left til baby comes...hooray!

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  3. It took me a while, but I really love my current background. I hope I convey a professional non-cluttered look. And that it's me.

    BTW, LOVE the new blog header.

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  4. Such great advice and the new blog header is another B word (beautiful!!)

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  5. These are great tips! I'm glad that you have chosen to share them.

    www.modernworld4.blogspot.com

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  6. I hope it says professional and makes people want to know me. I'm so not good at this type of thing though.

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  7. Definitely NOT tech savvy either! I spend a lot of time googling how to do the most basic tweaks to the $20 blog template I got of Etsy. Not that I don't love my blog design and $20 was a major deal. But I just wish I knew a lot more about html and all that jazzy stuff. Next life I suppose.

    I love your tips on keeping it simple and blog reader friendly though. I'm a big fan of blog surfing but when I come across one with way to much stuff and one where I can't figure out how to comment, I just keep on going.

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  8. p.s. thanks for your super nice comment on my interview at Leigh's today. It made my day. I sure was lucky to get to hang with you and Peggy and make you my friends through sheer Erin association! Just wish I had more Jessie time in my future. Don't know if I can wait a whole year till next Storymakers!

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  9. I like ladybugs? I have no idea... :) And your header is super cute!

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  10. You know I'm not tech savvy. I love your blog. And way to go on the new blog header it's super savvy and it shows the beach which I love. And that was a total run on sentence. I'm lame.

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  11. Your design is lovely. Mine says I am too lazy to come up with one on my own. LOL!

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  12. I change my design all the time, usually opting for bland backgrounds. I'm sure I'll change it again.

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  13. Love your header. I'd like to take a blogging class. I'm grateful that Casey has been willing to teach me everything I know about blogging.

    I agree with your design tips. Once Casey put our new header with all the book covers on it, I was so happy. Because it totally fits me.

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  14. Carrie's wonderful, isn't she? She recently did my blog header when my publisher suggested I redesign before my book launch. Carrie is truly amazing and so kind to help out. Once I redesigned, I got rid of all those button that cluttered up my blog. And now my blog fits exactly what I write. Yous is very pretty! I like it a lot!!

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  15. I'm all for simple. In fact, I've had the same blog set-up since I started. I guess that means I'm boring?

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    1. I'm in your boat Ruth but actually I'm afraid to experiment lest I delete the whole thing!

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  16. i love your new header & i love it more with the meaning behind it!
    the red accents are a perfect touch!

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  17. Love the new header! GO CARRIE!

    I think it's important for our blogs to reflect us. I like to go to someone's blog and get a taste of who they are. Funny that we both have damask as our background. That's cause we both rock, right? :)

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  18. This is obviously one great post.i keep on reading articles from here.thanks for sharing.. restaurant web design

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  19. Ah, yes! I can agree with it all! The new blog header is A-MAZ-ING! I truly love it! It fits so well with your blog. And now I can't remember anything else because I have Ryan Reynolds and Ryan Gosling looking at me in your sidebar! Ahhh!- good dreams tonight! :)

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  20. Ooh, great blog header! Carrie is awesome. :)

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  21. I think mine says I am a writer and that I am simple. I also can't stand when I go to a blog and I can't even figure out what I'm supposed to read because there is so much ad/word vomit all over the page. And like Leigh, I can't think to type anything of value because of the Ryans over there --->

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  22. D'aww...

    Thanks for the shout-out, Jessie! :) To be perfectly honest, I like your header more than mine. Haha!

    Great tips!

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  23. These are all wonderful tips and I really do love your blog! Thanks for sharing :)

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  24. I agree about keeping it simple and not cluttering up pages with lots of huge pictures that take forever to load, unexpected loud music files, eye-strain color combinations, and too much stuff on the sidebars. Some of the pages at my old Angelfire site had bad background and font color combos, but for the most part, I tried to keep the font black and the background colors soft enough for the font color to show up well.

    I've kept my new site as simple and uncluttered as possible, which is helped by how Wordpress doesn't really facilitate lots of buttons and such in the sidebars. My header image is of the shore at Caesarea, which probably tells people that I love the beach, and my background image is the Kotel (Western Wall).

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  25. Your header looks awesome! Carrie did one for me but I'm still playing around with my colors. I am not quite there yet but I'm working on it. Unfortunately I'm not tech-savvy! I agree with keeping it simple too!

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  26. I'm afraid my blog still says: I have no experience in graphics, I can barely find buttons much less move them and you're damn lucky I managed to get a picture up there and even luckier I (debatable) figured out how to POST one. I need a tutor seriously.

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  27. I love your header and hearing what it means to you. Very special!
    Great post, by the way. I agree with it all.

    I'm afraid my blog says: Shirley must try harder. :)

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