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Branding Your Blog: Let’s Get Visual

If you’re old and/or hip enough to remember the days when books were printed on paper and sold on shelves,…

bookcover

If you’re old and/or hip enough to remember the days when books were printed on paper and sold on shelves, you probably have a handful of favorite book covers. The visual design of a book not only grabs the attention of would-be readers, but also sets a tone for the content sandwiched between its covers. Covers and spines that all look alike make for wonderful soft furnishings, but in a world in which ideas have to compete for attention, they often don’t cut it.

Cookie cutter blogs with the same look and feel as countless others have the same impact. Which is to say, not very much. So in this three part series on visually branding your blog, we take a look at some tips and tactics for thinking through and putting into action some simple ways you can set your blog apart, whether you’re an artistic maestro itching to make a masterpiece of your magnum opus, or simply a concerned party worried that your blog is an unbearable aesthetic train wreck.

On the Menu

  • Intro: You’re reading it. Today we’ll do some essential groundwork for the visual makeover of wonders we have ahead of us.
  • 101:  In the next post, we’ll look at how you can customize the look and feel of your blog’s headers and sidebars to set it apart from the pack.
  • 201: Next up we’ll be taking a look at tweaking typography and backgrounds.
  • 301: In our third and final post we’ll take a look at taking visual branding to the next level with CSS.

Identity, Meet Visual Identity

Your writing, and by extension your blog, very likely has an identity all of its own. Whether that’s in the stylistic details of how you write, in the persistent themes and ideas you write about, or a combination of the two, when people read something you’ve written, they’re going to get an impression of you through your use of words.

Creating a visual identity, however simple, for your blog, only reinforces that idea. And if your visual identity is going to make sense in the context of your writing, it should spring from that writing. If you write about crafts, how could you translate the mood, feeling and act of crafting into the look of your blog?  If your blog is a personal journal about your travels, how could you make it feel more personal with a few visual flourishes, and how could you emphasise that it’s about travel to the casual reader? Today we’ll look at these problems and how to solve them.

The Why Behind the What

Before you get your marker pens and watercolors down from the attic, start thinking about why people would want to read your blog, what they’re likely to find there if they do, and what makes your blog unique. In other words, before putting pen to paper when it comes to visual design, it’s a good idea to think through why you’re doing what you’re doing. What are you hoping to achieve?

In the case of a book or movie poster, there are a few elements that make up the “why” of what it’s trying to achieve:

  • Stand out from the thousands of other brilliant ideas and offerings competing for peoples stretched attention.
  • Contextualize the book or movie so that passers-by can get a very quick idea if it’s the “sort of thing they like”. Is it literary fiction? Is it horror? Is it a heartwarming tale of a dog and cat on a one way mission to Mars?
  • Set the tone within that broader context you’ve settled on. A comedy-horror film will have a different look and feel to one played straight. A Tim Burton animation will visually position itself in a different way to a classic Disney film. A 1000-page academic treatise on the mating cycle of lesser spotted herons will likely present itself in a different way than an Idiot’s Guide to Heron Mating.

Let’s put this into action:

Action Time: Now to nail down some of the ideas that might inspire the look and feel of your blog:

  • Figure out your blog’s unique proposition, the thing that sets it apart from everything else. Get the ball rolling with “It’s the only blog that…” and take it from there.
  • Think about the broader context of your blog. Are there any other blogs like it? If your blog were turned into a book, where would it be filed in a library or bookstore?
  • Do some spontaneous mood setting. What kind of atmosphere would your blog have if it were a cafe, restaurant, or bar? Loud and exciting? Relaxed and peaceful? Jazz music and beard stroking by dim light? Think about the lighting, decor, furnishings, soundtrack, aromas, people you might find in there.

Toying With Taglines

Okay, okay, we’re nearly at the visual part. Before we get there though, let’s try and boil everything down into an elevator pitch of the mood, feel, intentions, and hopefully audience for your blog. We’ll do that by working on a one-liner. The conversational way you’d describe what your blog is and who it’s for if you had thirty seconds passing a friend in the street. Think of the blurb on the front or back of a book, or the one-liner on a movie poster, only less formal. The idea is that you’re going to let the would-be, fly-by reader know exactly what’s going on with this here blog before they commit to reading a post.

Action Time: Boiling down your whole blog into a useful sentence is tough. Here are some questions to ask yourself if you get stuck:

  • The old journalistic W’s: run your blog through the trusty old journalistic W’s of Who (who is this blog for); What (what’s it about);  When (what’s the average speed of posting? Is this a quick fire bulletin or a slow burn meditation?); Where (where is it being written/where are the audience located in geographic or psychological space), How (Ok, not a W, but don’t shoot the messenger – how are you/will you appeal to the casual or would-be reader? What kind of posts are you putting out?)
  • Jaws Meets Heat, On Mars: when scriptwriters pitch their ideas in Hollywood, they often use shorthand to get the gist across about their idea by mashing two existing, well-known examples together. Is your blog “Gawker, by way of Sartre”, “LOLCats meets political analysis”, or “A blog about pince-nez, in the style of popular 1970s tobacco advertising”? Possibly none of the above, but you get the idea.
  • At gunpoint: if you’re still sweating it and can’t commit to what the heck your blog is about, just imagine a maniacal clown with a 60-second egg-timer in one hand, a revolver, pointed at you, in the other, and a vacant, somewhat unpleasant stare. Set your own timer if you have to. Don’t anger the clown.

Hopefully that’s given you a tagline. A tagline you can use as your own secret inspiration for the visual funfair awaiting us, or a tagline you can use as, you know, your tagline.

Think Visual

So by now you know what your blog’s about. You’ve boiled it’s essence down to a killer tagline. You’re ready to start playing with visuals. Right?

Almost.

Action Time: Put pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, or voice to… voice recorder. Answer the following quick questions as instinctively and spontaneously as you can:

  • What was the last book (magazine or movie) you paid for? How did the cover (or poster) convey that it wasn’t a book from a different genre? If it appealed to you when you picked it up, how so? If not, why not?
  • If your blog had a book cover (or movie poster) what would it look like? Describe it in simple terms, or make a quick doodle. Why did you make the decisions you did?
  • Does the subject of your blog have its own existing, popular “iconography” attached? Think knitting needles (crafts/knitting), typewriters (writing), dog leashes (dogs), ribbons (crafts, pretty things), blood spatters (crime/horror). If there aren’t any, how could you best represent the topic of your blog visually? If there are, how could you put a fresh twist on the familiar imagery?

Back of a Napkin

In the next post in the series, we’re going to be looking at how you can creatively use headers and image widgets in your sidebar to visually brand your blog. Until then, why not pitch your taglines, thoughts, and if you’re brave enough, your wild scribble-scratched napkin sketches of some of the ideas you’ve had about how you could visually brand your blog? And if you’re feeling especially nice, why not throw out some feedback to your fellow blog branders?

240 Comments

    1. I’d love to see one or more images of a swimming pool as soon as your blog loads. Also, my instant reaction was to find the red at the top (with all the links) jarring. I expected to see blue … but it’s up to you whether you want to meet expectations or not! I can easily visualize your blog after only a few moments looking at it.

      1. Thanks for the feedback, we did have pictures of pools at the top of the page, but they seem to detach you from the topic.

        There is a red swimming pool in a holiday hotel, but blue is the colour that everybody thinks a pool should be.

  1. I’m actually pretty happy with my tagline, banner, and background color; they set the mood that I want for my blog pretty well. I’m always open to feedback, though.

    What do you think about it? Any suggestions for how I can set an appropriate mood without being too depressing? How can I better convey the idea that I’m on a journey (with a vague idea of where I want to go, but no end in sight)? Thanks in advance!

    http://adaywithdepression.wordpress.com

    1. I think you are right about the tagline, and even the banner. The lonely figure walking down the road does reflect the solitary aspect of depression.

      That said, I don’t think the hue of blue background ties in to the banner very well. Perhaps try matching it to the blue-grey in the road or that sliver of blue-grey behind the sheep. I think it would make it less jarring.

      Also, I think this is a very common blog theme – perhaps try adjusting your font/heading style or color to set it aside from similarly themed blogs?

      Hope that helps!

      1. Thanks so much! I tried matching the blue-grey behind the sheep. The new effect works much better. :-)

        I would love to adjust my font, text color, and other aspects of the theme, but those options only seem to be available to paid users.

      2. It looks much better! It seems to fit the mood of the blog a little better too – the other blue seemed a little bold for a blog with a menu heading of “breaking the silence”. This color seems a little more silent/subdued.

    2. Hi, Ziya. I don’t mean to butt in here, so if my comment is out of line in any way, please just ignore it. I was intrigued with your own comments about your site and hopped over there to take a look. Here’s what occurred to me. Considering the fact that Wonderoneday said the them of dealing with depression seems to be a common blog theme, I’m wondering if you could just change the title itself. Your tagline says that you are dealing with depression, so that line takes care of identifying the exact subject. But the other thing your tagline says is that you have hope for recovery. As I read over some of your posts, I feel your sense of taking hold of life bravely and moving forward at every opportunity are two very strong elements in your personality and character. They seem to identify you much more than the depression. I keep feeling you should focus on your success in moving forward toward recovery.

      So, here’s my suggestion: Given the header photo with the person walking down a road, why not consider changing the title of your blog to “On The Road To Recovery” ? Then even though the tagline identifies the foundational subject as depression, the whole thrust of your site is on recovering from depression. That title would most likely draw more readers to you, because any time a site offers hope and optimism, it is more attractive to the general public. And, as I say, what I read on your site indicates that you are well on your way to not being imprisoned by depression at all. I would let the title celebrate that fact.

      1. Hi Sandra. Thank you so much for your feedback! I’m not entirely sure I want to change the title of my blog, but I do think you make some good points about focusing on recovery. (and, admittedly, using positivity to draw in more readers)

        I especially appreciate your comments about the resilience you sense in my writing. I don’t always see it, so it’s very helpful to learn someone else’s perspective.

        My thoughts on what I want to convey in my blog, what the title means to me, and how I might be able to incorporate a stronger focus on recovery while staying true to my original intentions are a bit complex. I think it will take more space than is reasonable for a comment on a post like this to work them out. I’m thinking I might actually write a new blog post in response to your comment.

        In the meantime, I wanted to let you know that I’ve read and am considering your suggestion. Thanks again!

      2. If what I shared helps in any way at all, I’m glad. I definitely do see in your writing and your lifestyle a great deal that is positive and indicative of having overcome depression.

      3. I didn’t mean the theme of depression, I meant the wordpress theme itself. I think the name of the blog is informative – it shows me that it will be about the day-to-day aspects of living with depression.

      4. Thanks for the clarification. Sorry I misunderstood your meaning. I’ve seen several blogs out there on depression and mental health, so I thought that’s what you were referring to.

      5. Also I think the fact that it is a “day” with depression, rather than “life” with depression or something more permanent, shows that you are not content to live with it forever – it is something that is transient.

  2. Great post, I’m always trying to find new ways to improve my brand. I think a unique writing style is one of the best ways to keep an engaging audience.

    1. I think your blog gives an excellent first impression. Your header image is fantasic for creating the impression that your blog is eclectic, has personality, and will likely be filled with random things.

      If I could leave one suggestion, I would tweak your side bar. There is so much exciting color and personality at the top of your page, but I feel like it gets lost on the sidebar. Perhaps show the top posts or blogs you follow as images? Or insert a few images that create excitement and direct readers to the best parts of your site.

      Hope that helps! If you wouldn’t mind, could you take a look at my site? I’d like to know what impression you get from it as a first time visitor – I stare at it so much every day that it’s hard to know what could use some improvement. Thanks!

  3. Ok, branding is a topic I’ve thought long and hard about. I often wonder if it wouldn’t give readers a deeper connection to me (and the blog) if I used a photo of myself as my blog image, rather than what I’ve chosen (you can see it in my gravatar image right here next to this comment). I wonder if not having an image of the person behind the writing creates a distance between the blogger and the reader.

    1. I think your blog itself has an excellent visual appeal – I like the punch of pink/red at the top, and you carry the color throughout the page pretty well. I would try to include that color in your blog/gravatar image. As it stands now, the image is kind of hard to read and it doesn’t jump out at me on a page full of gravatars. But I do like that it contains your blog’s name, and is very memorable. I think you just need to make it stand out a little more by adding color/contrast.

      Hope that helps! If you wouldn’t mind, could you take a look at my site? I’d like to know what impression you get from it as a first time visitor – I stare at it so much every day that it’s hard to know what could use some improvement. Thanks!

      1. ok first time visitor impression–I think it’s very busy. You got a lot going on there.
        Personally, I feel the most recent post should be a bit more prominent. I scrolled right past it (I thought it was part of the header).

        Content looks awesome–that’s a terrific idea for a travel blog.

        I’m originally from southern CT, too :)

    2. Thanks for your feedback Karen! I do agree the first page is a little busy, I’ve been working on cleaning it up a little (it has gotten less busy, I swear), but I’ve still got a long way to go. Unfortunately these themes are not very customizable unless you pay to do so, and I’m not quite ready to shell out the bucks yet :) Hopefully soon I’ll get to it – especially once they get to the CSS portion of this series!

      1. Sorry for getting in on this conversation, but I agree with Karen about your front page being too busy. I felt a little lost. After reading a lot of comments today, I think we all seem to agree that getting the CSS portion into the series. Any feed bak on my page would be great!

      2. Lips: I like the background of your blog, it’s fun and flirty and definitely matches your blog name. But since a big part of your blog is fashion tips, I think you should have that as a menu heading. I couldn’t figure out how to view just your fashion tips in one place.

  4. This series of posts come at the perfect time for me. I am just starting to get my blog up and running and am really happy to have a “to do list” for all of the visual elements I need to think about. I will be working on a tagline today…Thanks!

  5. I just changed themes/formats. I am all over the place with my writing so I am trying to stay consistent with the color theme, red/black/white since just one image or thing doesn’t really say a lot about my posts. Maybe my next change will be for one of the more advanced, stylistic themes vs. the current “traditional” setup.

    1. I do think the color theme looks good with the fact that your blog name is ‘sorta ginger’. Plus, the bold photo of the strawberries ties into the color theme well. I do think you should consider other themes for the sake of the posts though. On the front page, there isn’t very much differentiation between the posts other than the red titles -they all sort of run together. But if you do go with a different theme, I’d definitely keep the same color pallette, and include the use of a bold photo like that.

      Hope that helps! If you wouldn’t mind, could you take a look at my site? I’d like to know what impression you get from it as a first time visitor. Thanks!

      1. Thanks for the feedback! I think I am going to have to mess around more with vertical spacing, posts per page and featured images (now that I figured out how to actually do those).

        Your site is a good example of the format that I would probably switch to at some point with the balance between the pictures and the text. I like the information at the bottom though I think I am just too used to looking for that along the sides or the top of the blog, especially via ipad and phone. I also especially like the featured post at the top. Good way to highlight the new posts, especially as a fellow daily blogger. :-)

  6. I did a slight look change on my blog. I decided to simply change to a darker colour. I was contemplating changing templates but I only found four or five that correlated with my blog. In the end, I decided changing the colour was enough. Thanks for the useful suggestions in this post. Can’t wait for the next one! :D

  7. I keep changing my visual look. Like every few weeks. New banner at least once a month. The latest look is so far my favourite but I’m probably going to be bored with it soon. Hey, at least I get plenty of use out of my photo editing software!

  8. I definitely want to learn about CSS!

    My blog is called The Life of Kylie (a play on The Life of Riley), and I’ve labeled all my widgets with phrases that include some variation on the word “life.”

    1. I think I did say this once before, but I do like that you have that recurring “life” theme. But one note as I looked at your blog again – did you realize you have two “follow” buttons – one at the top of your side bar and one at the bottom?

  9. This is awesome. I’m quite a perfectionist when it comes to the visual aesthetics of my blog… I can spend hours browsing through different themes! Hope the results can be seen.

  10. I am a 20 year media marketing veteran and your post here is dead on. We have to do more than string words together and hit “publish”. The “visual voice” of your brand is just as important in catching the eye of a reader. I covered this in a recent article about understanding your WordPress stats and how to use your layout to generate deeper click-through. I hope it’s ok to post the link? http://cherispeak.wordpress.com/2013/01/01/the-state-of-your-wordpress-stats/

  11. Awesome post! It was really helpful and gave me a few more things to know about improving my blog, so thanks!

    My blog’s name is “Ivan’s Brain” inspired by my brain itself and its contents. My homepage is pretty nice I think, to me ( at least ) it shares ingenuity, color and “happiness” which is what my blog is all about varying from my day to day life and my opinions on things. The sidebar too, it shares most of the things I like on my blog, I think it adds even more to what readers should expect.

    I’m pretty competent for my blog. Though like some others who commented, I’d also like to know what you guys think? Like first impressions.. and maybe some advice on improving it.

  12. This is really great stuff; however, I’m still having a time trying to put all of my randomness, travel, love for photography, spirituality and humor in ONE genre, so to speak. I feel like it’s working pretty well, but I sometimes think I need a couple of different blogs/pages. Would welcome any comments, suggestions for improvement.

    1. I think the name of the blog and the tag line sums up completely that is a blog about life in general.. It looks comfortable.. like you expect your mum or nanna to be..:)

  13. Thank you, Michael. This is exactly what I’m interested in learning. Just started my blog Jan 1st and I would love to know how to make my blog’s appearance improve.

  14. Love the articles on ways of improving blogs :) I’ve changed my blog name and look a few times the past few years. Had some excellent advice when changing my business name – was asked if my name had emotional content. It didn’t. I changed business name. My blog went through a stage of being a web page for my business, but has ended up again as a personal blog after I decided to blog daily as personal journalling and photo blogs :). The last time I decided to rework the look of my blog, I wasn’t happy with the changes I made, so left it as it stood prior. In hindsight because I like the look and layout, and my tagline ‘Living a Magickal Life’ fits beautifully. I use one of my photos as a background, but it does take a while to open on some devces. I use my i-pad predominantly to update my blog now. Thoughts anyone?
    http://the-serenity-space.com/

    1. I’ve changed a couple of times myself, not being entirely happy with my URL/title until now! 1st of January this year, my whole blog got a complete overhaul, and now I feel good about it. It’s all personal journaling, photos of our cat … birds ..all fluffy stuff :)

      Just went to look at yours. It’s nice … I like the look and feel of it, perhaps you could just compress the background image so that it loads faster for they who are on slow connections?!

      1. Depends on what programme you have for photo editing. The free Picasa from Google … there it’s really easy. Please, tell me what you have and it’s easier to explain.. :)

      2. For the editting of my site i use picasa on the computer … Individual posts i do on my ipad and use phototoaster for the photos. The background taken locally at the wetlands i uploaded on computer

      3. Oh great! Then, just bring up the picture in Picasa, hit a button that says Export. Set the size to 1200 and quality to …lowest. There won’t be any great loss in quality.

  15. Since WordPress did the daily post on the ‘About page’ I redid mine and made it the landing page. I am very happy now with my banner because the sunflowers reflect – sunny disposition, outdoor life and France. Also my tag line I think is very me – Ramblings is what it is all about. Of course any comments gratefully received and considered. I am a lot happier with it than before.

    1. I really like your about page – it is a great narrative to show what your blog is about. But I did catch a couple typos:
      “Although I’ve lived >>>her<<>>the in<<< Freudian sense. "

      1. You seem to have been helping everyone. How generous you are with your time. I had a look at your about page. That is really nice – I like the photo you use – very welcoming. The page isn’t too long which is good as I sometimes get bored with too much detail.
        You landing page is very busy. I am not sure what is the most important thing to look at. I think that moving the category listing would solve the problem. Then you would have all the posts in line with the most recent at the top.

      2. Thanks for the feedback! It seems everyone agrees my main page is too busy, but unfortunately until we get to the CSS portion of this, I can’t change it very much. But thank you also for the feedback on my about page!

    2. Sorry, apparently the comment box didn’t like the carrot symbols. The first typo is “although I’ve lived her” instead of here, and the second is just a swapping of the two words before Freudian.

  16. I thought this post was full of great ideas for figuring out exactly how you want to set up your blog, visually speaking. I seem to be looking for a change every six months or so, but I never seem to find quite what I’m looking for, so I stick with what I’ve got. I like what I’ve got, but I’m not sure that I love it exactly, and I think it has more to do with theme than anything else because I always wind up using the same background and header images, things that I’ve carried over to places like Twitter and Facebook for the sake of consistency.

    Anyway, I’m always up for feedback and would love to know what you all think. :)

    1. I definitely like the title – I think it’s the best part! But I also like the main photo and the background – they tie together well and really give a sense that your blog is about writing. It also gives the sense that your main audience is female – don’t know if that is true or not, but it’s what I get as a first impression.

      But apparently I’m also on typo duty tonight because I found a typo in your “about” on your main page:

      “realityof” instead of “reality of”

      1. It seems to be a quirk of the theme – every time I use an ellipsis, it takes it out and runs the two words together. If I use an ellipsis with a space on either side of it, it still takes out the ellipsis, but at least the words don’t run into each other. I don’t understand why it does that, but I’ve noticed that elsewhere in posts and things. That’s what happened there – I had used an ellipsis. Apparently, though, that one escaped my notice, so thanks for pointing that out! :)

        And thanks for your positive comments! I stopped by yours earlier this afternoon, and I tend to agree with a couple of others who mentioned that your homepage felt rather busy and cluttered. There was so much going on that I didn’t really know what to look at first, which is distracting. The individual posts were a little bit better, though. A travel blog sounds interesting – I love to travel, but with four kids, I’m far too broke to do much of it! :D

      2. Thanks for the feedback! I am really looking forward to the CSS portion of this ‘lesson’ – I can’t really make the changes I want to make to my blog until we get to that portion! I like the current layout of the main page, but I wish I could replace the “featured” post names and dates with just the post card image itself.

  17. One day, I decided I wanted a bunch of widgets on my blog…so that’s what I did. Now I’m starting to tweak them to my taste. I’m pretty happy with the look of my blog, but I am open to feedback on widgets/information/etc. and how they are arranged, and even the theme as well. I am always willing to hear it. :)

    http://donewithcollege.wordpress.com

    1. I think the widgets themselves provide good information, but it all kind of blends together in that sidebar area. There is no delineation between the various widgets (I realize there are separate green boxes, but I mean that the headings don’t stand out from the text, and the text all looks the same despite some being ‘about me’, some being tweets, etc). Perhaps adjust the headers, or add a little bit of color by adding some photos to some of the widgets.

      Also, I would add some navigation to your site. Just scrolling through the main page of your blog, I’m not particularly sure what it is about and there is no navigation to help me delineate the main topics.

      Hope that helps :) Since you’ve spent so much time looking at your own widgets, would you mind giving my blog a look with widgets in mind? I’ve moved them around, adjusted them, etc, and I’m not sure if they are effective. Thanks!

      1. Thanks for the feedback! What kind of navigation would you expect? Something like archives, or like more navigation buttons at the top? I do have my about page, although it is kind of off to the side, and my photography page (which definitely needs work). Just curious as to what you mean by navigation. :)

      2. I was thinking something along the lines of navigation at the top to the types of post you want to feature (pulled from your most common categories). It looks like you have a lot of: life, work, writing, photography, daily post challenge. You may have others, but that was just a quick glance. Perhaps include navigation to those categories of posts, or add a more specific breakdown similar to your tag structure.

        As a first time visitor to your site, the wall of text on your main page is slightly overwhelming and it doesn’t really invite me to read in more detail. But if I could skip scrolling through the wall of text and click on the category that most interests me, I would be more likely to want to continue reading.

        Also, your photography is amazing!! I realize it is hosted on a different website, but if you brought some of that to your blog, it would really make it more visually appealing and would break up the wall of text I was describing.

        Hope that clarification helps!

  18. I think we get so used to seeing our blog that it’s hard to see it through the eyes of a newcomer to it. I love the layout of my blog, the colors and most stuff about it.. but would love to see what other people think when they go to it.. to me, I’m so used to it, I don’t really see it anymore with fresh eyes. :)

    1. I really like the colors, and the unique, eye-catching header image. But just as a first impression, I was a bit unnerved by the oddity of both the header image and your profile photo in juxtaposition. I think either one would be find on its own, but combined, it felt like you were staring out of the screen at me via some alternate wacky dimension… haha If that’s the look you’re going for, then great!

    2. I love your banner! something about the giant eyes with the window washers in front of them just strikes me as awesome. It really drew me in to your blog.

      I also like your colors, fonts, and how your older posts are listed with a short “teaser” under the most recent. That enabled me to skim the titles and find a post I wanted to read. :-)

    3. Thanks for the feedback.. :).. I have to be honest, when I first put it together, I didn’t know how to get rid of the gravitar image at the side so left it there and I’ve become complacent about it I think. I’ll have another look at it today. That’s what I mean by fresh eyes. I certainly wanted the “staring out of the screen at you” look for the header but I think I need to do some new ones. I really appreciate the feedback :)

      1. I just looked back at your site today and I like the changes you’ve made. It does seem you are staring out of the screen at me but it’s not so creepy any more :)

  19. You’ve obviously touched on something near and dear to us bloggers — how to make our blogs appealing. That said, I want to say this: I radically changed the look of my blog on Jan. 2nd — I mean, totally, absolutely changed everything about the look of it — and not one of my readers even made a comment about it! So I’m wondering if we over think it and stress about it? I mean, that would be if I over think and stress about it…

    1. I love the look of your blog and I’m sorry no one noticed your hard work. Yes, I think we put too much stress on ourselves about how others see our blogs. Since we put so much of ourselves into them we expect others to see and notice but your comment proves not. I love this topic, it came at a perfect time!

    2. I agree that your blog looks awesome. I really like the layout of your thankfulness 360 page – it is a great way to collect all those different posts. I especially like that all of your widgets are at the bottom, it keeps the lines clean on the rest of the page.

      1. Thank You! That was what I changed! Before, all my widgets were on the side, and though I liked it okay, WordPress was changing that theme. So I went for the spare clean look which emphasizes the writing and photos. Although I do like your theme which lets you just read the teaser. I don’t have that option. Thanks for the like as well! I’ll be visiting yours more in detail tonight when I have time…Work beckons!

  20. I like my banner and tagline…it seems to be attracting a fair amount of traffic, however I have been thinking about adding ‘spirituality’ in there somewhere to cover the posts that don’t fit into spirit communication, ghosts, paranormal, etc…what do you think? Do you get the impression that my blog is just about ghosts and spirit communication, or that it is also spiritual in nature?

  21. Perfect timing…Just last night I was started working on creating a logo for my blog: http://mommyverbs.wordpress.com/ I’m in love with my tag line and the concept of focus on action, a verb as the title of each post. I think in order to add a logo, I would have to change the appearance/theme. Is it worth it? Or is there another way?! I’m still new to these parts, figuring it out just a little at a time, in before dinner and after bedtimes…and always appreciate of any feedback.

    1. I love the design at the top of your blog, the color scheme, and font. And the tone of your writing is awesome! If your theme supports a banner (wide image at the top of the page) you might want to consider one to fill the empty space between the title and sidebar. If trying to change it is unreasonably difficult or requires you to change the theme, I’d say don’t sweat it. Your blog already looks fantastic!

      1. Thank you so much for the feedback! I really, really appreciate it! I am figuring this out one thing at a time. I don’t think that my theme supports a banner or any kind of image at the top. I actually was working on a logo, but stopped when I didn’t know where it would go. I like my theme, and don’t see it often on the ‘internets!” So, that was a bonus. Still working on maximizing categories and tagging each post. I’ll take the feedback you offer…so appreciate it!

    1. Given that your blog is about writing and poetry, I like the notebook paper behind your text. But you are right, the background doesn’t really add anything to it. I would recommend something that contributes to the writing theme, and is on the darker side so that the eye is drawn toward your text. Do a google image search for “old books” or “old paper” and see if you can find any you like from there.

      1. I love the change! That is exactly what I was suggesting and it really draws your eye to the text and makes it seem more ‘literar-ily focused”. Sorry for my made up words :)

    2. I agree with Wanderoneday. I’d also suggest considering a 3-column theme/layout, since it seems your poems tend not to take a lot of horizontal space. I think it would enable your content to fill the screen a bit better.

  22. You mention some interesting points. i am thinking about changing themes to brighten and freshen my blog up a bit. I know they say blogs should have a niche, but mine never has and the comments I get are positive. Love to know what you think.

    1. I think the multiple repetitions of the same background image looks a bit odd – that’s the only thing that doesn’t seem to jive in my eyes. I do like the header image though. And clearly your readers like your content, so I think the appearance of the blog is secondary to your awesome content!

  23. GREAT subject today…I looked at so many new blogs today and I made some comments. I was thrilled to see so many people interacting! We all put so much of ourselves into our blogs and this seems so nice to get feedback from new people! Feel free to check out mine and leave feedback!

  24. I am looking forward to the next few lessons. Having had my blog for less than one month, I am still struggling with each post and seem to be hitting invisible buttons with very visible consequences that I don’t always know how to undo. I want a permanent visual header but right now each new post and its picture takes over the front page. I had a slideshow as a visual header which I liked (but have no idea how I managed to create it) and then this disappeared with other posts.. Oh well, it’s all a learning curve and I am learning to be patient….

  25. This is SO helpful for me too ! Excellent post. I am so clueless on how to set up a visually great blog page using the free tools available. I play around with it when I can to see what I can change but get a bit lost. So thank you – its nice to check out other blogs to see what they look like and I have a couple of new ones I like which I have now started following thanks to this post. Double win :)

    1. I really like your header image. It’s so wacky that it definitely ties into your blogs title – there must be a tale to tell about a clothesline of lacy underwear! But you’re right, your blog does have some quirky formatting to it, there’s one post that doesn’t show up in line with the others.

      And thanks for following :)

      1. You are welcome, and thank you ! I wanted it to be quirky. I did notice that post the other day – I think as I had posted it as a “link”. Thanks for the reminder to go back and check that out ( assuming that is what you are referring to ).
        So great to have people happy to help out. I am getting some great advice from people in the wordpress world :)

      2. Yes, I think it was some kind of a link to a youtube video or something.

        I think we’re all happy to have a sounding board of people who also are interested in improving their blogs. We don’t want to spam our readers with “do you like this? do you like that? what about this minor tweak?”… Anytime you need a second opinion let me know! And if you have any feedback on my blog, please let me know :)

    2. just checked your site. Enjoyed the narrow band of pictures running down on either side of your blog. It is immediately clear this is about travel. What I couldn’t easily find was a “Comment” area. It kind of got lost and I had to really search for it. Would like to learn how to arrange a large amount of small pictures into a photo collage, like you did.

      1. Thank you for taking some time to have a look and give me some feedback :) I will check out the comment part – I am guessing it is the way the ” theme” is designed. I will see if it can be changed though.
        Re the photo gallery, I use the ” tiles” option when I insert my gallery into a post. I have also played around with a few different themese and so far the Yoko theme is the only one I have found that shows photos like this on the main page of my blog. Does that help ?

  26. I started my blog exactly two months ago and articles like these are really helpful to a starter like me. I have chosen a very simple theme and am planning to personalize it soon. I would love some feedback on the current state my blog exists in.

    1. The biggest thing is that your blog background, tagline, and font do not really tie into the “generous helping of ‘makeup and fashion’” that you describe on your about page. The header photo you have chosen is great, but the simple blue text and the plain blue background do not scream “makeup and fashion” to me. Do a google image search for “beauty blog backgrounds” and see if you can get some inspiration.

      Hope this helps!

      1. Thanks for your feedback wanderoneday. Ya my bad about not changing the About page. I have actually started a new beauty website and kept this blog for non-beauty things. I would definitely improve my blog visually, it does seem simpler than I would like it to be. Thanks again.

  27. I really enjoy tweaking my blog and, just as you say, massaging it into an image that speaks of my message. I tend to avoid clutter and am usually looking for ways to put sidebar content into a form that doesn’t feel like an obstacle course. I’m dealing with a few issues right now, notably the “blogs I follow” list that keeps on growing and growing….I’d really like it to be a dropdown menu but my theme doesn’t support that. Any good ideas for a theme that could do that?

  28. I didn’t really give much thought to it when I started out the blog. Just wanted a place to put my doodles online and maybe add a bit of happiness to the world if possible.

    Guess it is time to review my blog if I got things right…

    1. It’s fantastic don’t change a thing … and I can totally relate to trying to play piano with short fingers! There are pieces I simply can not play because you need more than an octave spread.

  29. You’ve raised some really good points in this post, so good that I felt compelled to relook at my blog set up. Although I contantly tweak its appearance and am happy the theme (I especially like black against coloured drawings) and header (but am thinking of redrawing to reflect my ever evolving drawing style), I do think my tagline needs a serious workout.

    I thought it was really cool at first as it described my content well, but I have noticed that it is less than unique as far a catch phrasing is concerned – I’ve lost track of how many blogs have a similar tag line. So I think this weekend’s challenge is to come up with a new line to capture the imagination of visitors to my blog.

    If there are any suggestions floating out there in cyber space, feel free to leave a comment.

    http://www.justoutsidetheboxcartoon.com

    Thanks, Marti

    1. Hmm … nice reference, by the way. I like the “in between” part of your current tagline. What’s in between life and the universe? I’m not really sure, but it might be a good starting point for coming up with a new, more unique one. Good luck, and don’t forget your towel!

      1. Thanks for the feedback. Life was meant to refer cartoons about ‘life’ (you know, ‘that’s life’ kind of comments) and universe refers to my love of space and alien life forms. In between was anything which didn’t fit into either of the other two. I included this tagging into my catergory selection widget and inbetween covers animals, dung beetles and more.

        However, it’s become clear that I’m obviously a bit too obscure with that connection.

        I’ll brainstorm it this weekend. Many thanks again.

        Marti

    2. Perhaps you should include the names of your characters in the blog tagline, like “Evil pink aliens meets the secret lives of giants” or something like that. That way, it ties into your characters specifically.

      1. I like that idea. I started the blog a year ago with only 10 cartoons under my belt – no characters, no themes – just 10 cartoons covering anything. But after a year of cartooning, there’s more content to better define what the cartoons are all about.

        Many thanks for taking the time to view my site and share your thoughts.

        Marti

  30. I really like my tagline and my header photo, but I’m not too jazzed about my background, my fonts, and the general possibility of over-simplicity in my blog layout and style. Help?

    1. I like the background, but if you don’t … what about a solid color? or perhaps something related to writing? As for fonts, I think the ones you have work, but something that looks handwritten would be really cool. I also think the simple layout and style work well, but then I’m a bit biased – I think we have the same theme/layout. You can preview other themes/layouts without having to commit to them on the WordPress themes page if you want to experiment with alternatives. Let me know how it goes, I’m curious to see what you decide to do!

      1. Thanks so much Ziya! Forgive my newness, but is it possible to change my fonts without upgrading to the not-free blog? I’d love to get a little more creative with my layout but I can’t really afford to pay for it right now.

  31. I bought a theme from WP and customized it (with the help of some very nice and helpful people). I thought my previous design was nice and clean but for some odd reason, my new design attracts twice as many people per day as the old one! I have no idea what happened. I do like the large pictures and that could make a difference, but I am not sure happy about the tagline appearing at the top of my browser as a very very long title… I would like to make my blog look even more “comfortable” but I don’t know what else I could change.

    1. I think the only thing that makes it seem “uncomfortable” are the cold image at the top and the sharp corners on your post photos. But I don’t think you need to change anything, the site looks wonderful – I don’t know what it looked like before, but I think your money was well spent.

      1. Thank you very much for your feedback, I really appreciate it! And yes, it was -42 here, yesterday, so it can be a bit uncomfortable for everyone every now and then, hehe :))

    2. I am curious, what kind of percentage of increase you have, and the cost of the new theme. I love those animals but not so much the grayish not so vivid mountain background which your eyes will lay on first waiting for the whole picture to unload. those picture thumbnails for each of you post is so good. Is it something to do with your theme or the format. i.e. picture, video, gallery…? I am very tempted by those thumbnails to read the post. Sorry I don’t understand French

      1. Hi MABEL8BLE, I used to have 300 to 400 visitors a day and now I have 800 to 1000. The thumbnails for each post are part of the theme I bought, yes, although I added the shadows behind the pictures. I made tons of small changes to the original theme, which cost me I think $75 plus the cost of the customizations, $20. It’s called Gridspace. Glad you like it :)

      2. Sorry Dr. CaSo. I just saw your reply. Don’t know I don’t get response in my email. I am new to blogging.

        Well, thanks. I just wonder how people did the thumbnail.

        You have a very blog. Too bad I can’t read French.

        Have a great day and thanks again

  32. I recently changed my tagline after I realized that my most recent posts were travel-related, but I’m not always that lucky to be perpetually going around the world — so I’m wondering if you guys think the tagline effectively captures both the “travel” and “occasional musings” aspects of the blog?

    I’m also aware I should get a more cohesive logo or icon, but I’m so afraid to committing to ONE image other than my face :p Additionally, I like the Suburbia theme since it allows new readers to see all the stuff I’ve written about at a glance, but I’d appreciate all your thoughts on whether it even spurs you guys on to click! :) Thanks in advance!

    http://rachelay.wordpress.com

    1. I really like the theme you’ve chosen – it does all you to highlight the photos and text, and the grid layout keeps it clean. And you are right, the tagline captures both the travel and the local aspects.

      For us travel-addicts out there, perhaps you could add further breakdown to your ‘travel’ category – like locations (eg South America, or more specifically, Peru, depending how you want to break it down). This is somewhat optional, I suppose, since your layout makes it pretty easy to scroll through all of your travel posts for now – but once you get beyond the first page of travel posts, the breakdown would be helpful.

      Hope that helps!

    2. Actually, after looking at it a little more, even your non-travel posts take places in various cities, I think by categorizing them by destination, it would help to find all the posts related to one destination (like your photo/travel summary of Edinburgh coupled with your food post about Edinburgh).

      1. This is such a great suggestion! I’ll work on that over the weekend — thank you so much :) And thanks for your comments on my blog – you’re awesome!

  33. I like to think that the branding of my blog is near-perfect. The background and header [I designed it myself] are relevant to the content … however if anyone has any constructive criticism to further improve the layout – I’m all ears!

  34. One of the best things about living in a different timezone is waking up to see how much everyone here has been sharing their ideas and thoughts. Thanks to everyone who’s shared their own experience, blogs or feedback, you rock.

    1. I like the idea of your header. It definitely describes your site and what you do. I think it would be more effective if you didn’t have that white bar with nadiajwriter.com and the search bar above it, but I doubt you can change that option in your theme.

      I would suggest keeping the background static, so it doesn’t scroll along with the rest of the page. I like the lights, but seeing them scroll as I’m trying to focus on the text is a bit distracting.

      1. I tried taking that off but then it squished the search bar in with the menu and made it look really cramped. I’ll take your advice about the scrolling background, thanks! Thank you for taking the time to look :)

  35. I love writing, hence the Blog. But what I know about links, headers, sidebars or anything else which might make my Blog more accessible could be written down and still leave room to spare on a pinhead. I know it’s a good idea, but I fear that is all it will remain with me

  36. I’m constantly blown away by how many people are so willing to offer advice and help to fellow bloggers!

    I would really love and appreciate some feedback about my blog.

    At the moment its based around the renovation of our trailer and some Airstream inspired articles and family photos, but as soon as we begin our roadtrip I hope to post in a much more relevant way! In the meantime though, I’m working on getting to know more about wordpress and the aesthetics of my blog.

    Thanks to anyone who is willing to check it out and let me know how it feels to be on there as a stranger!

    1. I really like the heading on your blog – very unique and creative! I also like the clean lines of the rest of the site, interspersed with the colorful photos. In fact, if I were to make any recommendations at all, it would be to make your gravator image while the photo you are currenty using is kind of hard to see.

    2. Ugh sorry, I think I deleted a line of my comment – I meant to suggest making your gravatar image the “airstream family” logo that is in your header. It is unique and clearly describes your site.

      1. Hi Wanderoneday,

        Wow, you blog looks like the best blog like Houghton Post. I like some of your travel pics a lot. I am a rookie. my theme is: live well, eat healthy, have fun. Right now, I only have mabel8ble there, if I add livewelleathealthyhavefun after mabel8ble, 1)would it be too long to much too confusing. 2)would it screw up my URL make it impossible to search my blog? Thanks for any advice

  37. Since I started blogging about a year ago, I have gone through several phases, and I have learned a lot. At first, I published my photoshopped pictures of the neighborhood. My facebookfriends were the only one watching.

    Then, I added some writing – in Swedish. After that I started following the Weekly Photo Challenge, and the number of visitors have increased dramatically. But I had to write something in English (Difficult, believe me) for them, as the majority came from abroad.

    Today, I’d say 70 % of my visitors are foreign. They know very little about my country and city. I have to communicate differently, which has given me several ideas for future blogging projects.

    But I would really like to get some feedback from you, devoted bloggers out there. I would like to improve my blog.

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