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Blogging 101: Start Personalizing

Today’s assignment: create and upload a simple header, background, or both. Already done? Try a custom widget.

Welcome to Blogging U! This course isn't currently active, but you can learn more about what we offer and register for upcoming courses on the BU home page.

Remember, comments are closed on Blogging U. assignments. If you have a question, or want to share or chat, head to The Commons.

Picking a theme you love is the first step. Next, make that theme your own; start with the basics, like a header and/or background. Lots of you have already begun — keep it up. If you’re happy with your header and background, try your hand at a custom widget.

Today’s assignment: create and upload a simple header, background, or both. Already done? Try a custom widget.

Why do this?

  • These are free, simple ways to add instant personality to your site.
  • Photos, images, and colors work with your title and tagline to tell new visitors about your blog, helping to draw readers in.

To verify that your theme supports custom headers: check this list or hover over you blog’s name on the left of the bar across the top of your screen and open the Customizer. If you see “Headers” as an option, you’re ready to go.

Not sure what we mean by “header”? It’s the image or text across the top of your blog. Check out this example — on the left is the standard homepage for the Oxygen theme, and on the right is a magazine site that’s added its own header:

oxygen-beatroute-layouts

Don’t worry if you’re not sure what you want. Start simple, and pick an image that represents what you want your blog to be. If you’d like to tweak it a bit — change up the colors, add some text — we love the free and simple image editor PicMonkey. (In fact, we like it so much we published a tutorial on using it to make a custom header.) Your background can be an image, color, or pattern. Choose a color that complements your header, upload a photo, or browse our suggested patterns.

Need inspiration? Here are a few other headers we love:

eggton

witchin'

americanvagabond

sagexclare

lifeabsorbed

thebumplife

mobile views

See this at the bottom of your blog when you’re viewing the Customizer? You can click the different device icons to see how your blog looks on a computer, tablet, and phone.

You can preview headers and backgrounds without committing to any, so feel free to play. Be sure to preview them on your phone or tablet, too; a header that looks perfect on a 19-inch monitor might not translate to a 4-inch iPhone.

You may ultimately decide to stick with a simpler look, or have a header already. Preview a few headers and backgrounds anyway, to see how different images and colors transform the feel of your blog. You can change headers and backgrounds at any time, so you’re not locked in to anything.

When you’re ready, review the instructions for uploading and previewing headers and backgrounds, which also have some great examples. If you need more of a boost, we’ve also got advice on picking visuals for your blog.

If you’re ready to start customizing some widgets, start with the ideas in Widgets 101. Already too simple for you, you overacheiver you? Head to Widgets 201. Take the words and visuals in your header, and start puling them into your sidebar.

Not sure what visuals will work best for your blog? Your co-bloggers in The Commons will be happy to help!

 

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