Anyway, I wanted to do things a little differently this time and show you the process I went through in designing my blog. When I was redesigning my site, I was surprised at how much the process was like writing a book. No, seriously. All the steps were perfectly mirroring each other with the creative process. Think of it this way:
Step One: Start with an idea
With my design, I started with one color. I almost always try to create the header first, because all the other elements will branch off that. So I came up with my first header.
You’ll notice that nothing of this header stayed the same – except for the colors. I really liked this concept though. I liked how it was professional, how it showed my style, how it looked like “me”. You might ask, if I liked it so much, why did I change it? That brings me to step number two of how designing your blog is like writing a book.
Step Two: Think of your audience
With my first header, I was thinking of myself. There’s nothing wrong with that. But I realized that I write books for tweens. Middle grade readers don’t care if your site looks professional and classy. They don’t like elegant. They want something fun. I realized I needed something a little less formal and a little more playful.
Step Three: Revise
So I came up with my second header.
I used a font that I thought looked a lot like the doodles I used to make when I was younger. (Remember gel pens? Man I loved those things.) I made a shape that was asymmetrical. I made all of these headers in Paint.net, so I was somewhat limited with the things I could do. After I uploaded this header, I thought, “How cool, that swoop kinda looks like a page in an open book.”
Step Four: Run with your inspiration
I decided to make it look even *more* like a book. Behold header number 3.
At this point, I was still thinking this was like half of an open book (as if the left part of the book was cut off). I showed it to my husband, and he didn’t get it. I tried to explain to him why he was wrong. I tried to explain what I was going for rather than listening to him when he told me that wasn’t working (sound familiar? Yeah, I really hate editing sometimes). He told me I needed to make it the whole book (rather than half) if I wanted people to get it.
Step Five: Listen to criticism
I then created a mirror image of the one I’d already made, and layered it on top of the background. I flipped the image so that it became a whole book.
So, I listened to feedback, but something still wasn’t quite right … Yeah, this book looks a little strange. That’s because I had the swoop wrong. Rather than having the pages end on a swoop, I needed the swoop to be in the middle.
Step Six: Edit again
I tweaked and tweaked and tweaked the graphic until I finally was able to get the 3D aspect of the book right (at one point, I was missing a few lines and it looked like one of those optical illusions where you try to follow the lines of a box only to realize the lines don’t meet the edges correctly.) Eventually I came up with the header that you see now.
All in all, I had saved 12 different headers. That’s right. 12. As with writing, you can’t just do something once and expect it to turn out right.
Step Seven: Test everything
This step is a lot like getting beta readers for your work. I had to use every browser, try different computers, and try different monitor sizes in order to make sure my design was doing what I wanted it to. Firefox wasn’t wanting to play nice and that resulted in me editing some of my design elements by one pixel. I don’t know if you understand how small that is, but it’s the smallest measurement for designing (well, almost, but we won’t get into that here). In other words, I had to do some really annoying changes that didn’t really look big, but made a big difference. Sometimes when you’re editing, the simplest of changes can really help your sentences read better. Even one word can tighten things up.
Step Nine: Let it go
I could probably tweak this design forever. I will always notice little things that I could do better. After all, I’m constantly learning new things with blog design. Just like my writing, each design I do gets better with practice. Eventually though, I just had to install the design on my blog and say “it’s done”.
Step Ten: Marketing
Some authors do giveaways of their books. I’ve decided to do a giveaway for my designs. I’m not giving my site design away, but you can choose from any of the premade templates in The Blog Decorator shop. Or, you can take $50 off a custom design! (Usually $200). To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment telling me your email address and what design you’d like (or if you want a custom design). You get one more entry every time you share this post.
Here’s the fine print: This giveaway does not include any add-ons or customizations (though, if you win, you can purchase those if you’d like). If you already have one of my designs, you can still enter for a newer design if you see something you might like better. This giveaway is open to anyone, whether you’re a follower or not. To enter, leave a comment on this post telling me what design you’d like if you were to win, also, leave your email address so I can contact you if random.org selects you as a winner. You can still leave a comment if you don’t want to enter, but if you *do* want to enter, you *must* include those two pieces of information for it to be a valid entry. If you want more chances to win, share this giveaway on any social networking site. You’ll get one extra entry for each site you share it on (leave me a comment telling me where you shared). The giveaway will be open until September 13th.
What do you think of my new design?
***This giveaway is now closed***