Blog Facelifting

Since I have started this blog in February, I have been relatively pleased with the look of it, especially for the great deal of $0. Sometimes I look at blogs and envy the blogger’s design skills (or perhaps their friend’s design skills), but overall I am generally content. But then this weekend I had the itch to maybe try to make better graphics for my blog.

True story: I really considered majoring in graphic design in college, but I did not. Sometimes I wish I had. But sometimes I wish I had majored in psychology and gone to grad school right after, so what can I do? It’s all in the past.

I have Photoshop Elements, which I primarily got to edit pictures I take.  I can’t do a lot with it, really. The aforementioned editing of photos quickly came to me learning about these things called “actions” that basically does it all for you, and then seeking out free actions for Photoshop Elements to install and use. (Side note: This is fine if you’re taking pictures for fun. But in the name of all things Canon and Nikon, don’t call yourself a serious photographer just because you’re you’ve got a DSLR and can run your pictures through actions. Real photography/editing takes more knowledge and effort. I think actions have a place for sure, but they don’t fix bad lighting and such. Rant over.) And I certainly don’t know how to “draw” anything with my computer (or in real life for that matter). I was not sure what I could do beyond this:

graphic-quotable

The speech bubble is provided as a preset shape through Elements, of course, not drawn by myself.

But I decided to play around with it. I also looked into different fonts. I had some fun with it:

font-choicesThe decision to play with fonts and graphics largely came into play after I accidentally discovered a Premium WordPress theme that I loved and felt was so perfect that I almost considered shelling out $75 for it. Almost. But for now, this is too much of a hobby for me to justify it, I decided. But just so you can see how cute it looked, here’s the free live preview I captured:

on-a-whim-themeI also played around with the extra fonts you can get by paying $30, but they weren’t what I wanted. So again, I decided to play around just to see what I could come up with. I was surprised when I came up with this:

thoughts2

As you might have noticed, I decided to go with the Maiden Orange font (found through Font Squirrel). The arrows were also a pre-drawn shape with Elements, but with a little bit of creativity, I had made a chevron pattern, which goes nicely with my Twitter background I might add:

twitter

(Side note about my Twitter account: That it neither my Nikon nor my cat, but I do own a Nikon similar to that one and a cat who looks similar to that one, who I think would nom my camera if given the chance.) I am attempting to create a sense of coherency among my social networks, which is why you see the same profile picture everywhere, so I was pleased to have found a way to include chevrons. I also liked the idea of not majorly changing anything, but keeping things simple with the gray/teal color scheme.

I have also been playing around with how I include quotes in my reviews. “At first, I would just bold them and put them in quotation marks,”  sometimes after the “Quotable” section marker seen above. Then I decided I wanted to connect them with the story…

theselection-reviewgraphic3But I thought maybe I could still do better. So this is what I came with for now:

quote-tillwehavefaces

Elements did not have pre-drawn quotation marks, so instead I just typed quotation marks in the Maiden Orange font and chose a very large font size for it.

So now I have a few new graphics, so what? My blog design itself it still basic. But I still appreciate its modern, clean look, even if it’s the most exciting or eye-catching thing ever. One thing I would like to change is my header, but I’m still working on how to insert a graphic up there that doesn’t look funky.

So you may notice these minor changes, from the new quote blocks to my new sidebar image to my new star graphic which will be going from this:

3stars

to this:

3stars2It’s just all a part of a slow blog evolution process. As the blog grows I try to find ways to improve my post content and decided it was time to face-lift the look as well. If I am ever so fortunate to become a published author, I do intend to seek out a professional web designer and buy my own domain name and all that jazz, because as much as I love Suzanne Collins for bringing us The Hunger Games, her website is not cutting it:

suzanne-collinsAnd I’m sure there will be more changes for my blog to come.

What changes have you made to your blog or considered making to your blog?

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10 thoughts on “Blog Facelifting

  1. I thought about doing my own design but I am have not HTML skillz and to do wordpress you need that so I got an awesome designer in..and I love how my blog looks..never going to change it is perfect!

  2. Such an interesting post! I really liked how you went step-by-step with your playing around. A lot of it is stuff I’ve played with before. I type up my blog name all the time and just play with random fonts. And I’ve thought about including fun graphics, but honestly just didn’t want to do the work! Like the quotes. I think they’re adorable and that you should do them for sure, but personally I look at that and think “Oh, I’d have to remember to make one of these for every review.” Ha, I’m so lazy. I guess since I make that little rubric graphic I decided that’s enough for me! Still, I think these changes look great and definitely add a bit more fun to your blog!

    I think about changing my blog all the time, but never want to do the work personally. I could pay someone to work on it for me, but meh. It’s hard to justify that. So it is what it is! But I do agree. If you’re a professional writer, maybe hire someone then. I saw that Suzanne Collins website when I was just a reader and yeah, definitely wasn’t impressed! 😛

    • Yeah, the only thing about it is doing new graphics for reviews each time, but since I’m only doing about 2 a month it’s not too bad. I made a template with just the quotation marks, so all I have to do each time is insert the quote and save as a new file. I feel like that’s nothing compared to the people who have fancy graphics for every TTT post!

      I like the look of your blog! It has a simple but nice design with the graphics that go with each type of post you do and how it matches nicely with the background.

  3. I love change in blog looks! Aren’t new graphics the best? Mostly when you don’t have to make them yourself, but still. I definitely need to play around with the aesthetic of mine, but I’m not quite sure what I’m looking for yet. Whimsical + travel inspired + exotic cheery colors would be a nice touch, but I’m terrible at making things. Oh well, we shall see what I can come up with. I like your evolution so far!

    • Yes, it would be extra awesome if someone else would read my mind and make my graphics for me! Though it’s actually fun to try to work it out for myself, at least until I hit my ability limit. Just keep playing around with your blog and I’m sure you’ll come up with something fun and perfect for your blog!

  4. I went to school for graphic design, but then switched programs. That first year really showed me the basics for design and how to use programs like Illustrator and Photoshop. I’m going to be doing more features on my blog called Design Basics for Bloggers (there are only two posts up right now).

    When it comes to the design of my blog, I always itch to change it every couple of months. As long as it doesn’t look like Susanne Collins, I’m good! Haha

  5. Looks good Amy and it was interesting to learn how you put it together. I’m clueless about this stuff. Love the quotes and the font. And yes the SC website is very amateur looking, it is so bland, cookie cutter looking and boring which is the exact opposite of her books! Not a good image.

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