"" the girl who makes things: Blog design update

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Blog design update

It may or may not have escaped your notice but I've been making a few changes to the blog layout over the past few days. I hope it hasn't made things too confusing for you! I've been trying out a few different styles and headers to see what suits and I think I've finally come up with a design that I'm happy with. If I were a professional, I would probably have tried out all these different designs offline and then done an official launch but heck, I'm an amateur, I do this stuff for fun!

So, considering the amount transformations this blog's undergone, I thought I'd just go through some of the process in case you like what you see and you're interested in how I did it. I'm certainly not the be all and end all of graphic design (like I said, I'm an amateur) but there were a few tricks the internet taught me which I'd like to share.

If there's one thing I love about blogging (aside from the writing) it's that you can use it as another little creative outlet to say something about your personality. It's a bit like having an extra room in your house which you can makeover at any time and at no extra cost. My blog's been in need of a lick of paint for a while so I set about thinking what I needed to change.

I found it helpful to think about these two questions:

  1. what defines your blog?
  2. what defines you?

The first question was the easiest one to answer. My blog is about the things I make. Simple. So I knew I needed some kind of symbol in the design which related to this. In my previous blog design I had a sewing machine symbol like this:

But I felt like including a sewing machine again would narrow the subject matter down too much and I wanted the blog to include more general subject matter. So I've used a pair of scissors instead which can symbolise anything from sewing to paper crafts.

The second question was more difficult. It's a bit like trying to define your style and I wouldn't say that I'm someone with a very definite style. I'm a little bit of everything really: classic, modern, simple, girly, not girly... I think the best way to go about it is to just experiment. And I did experiment a heap. I've been lucky enough to have a lot of free time at the moment as I'm out of work so I just played around with different designs, tried them out on the blog and kept changing them until I felt like I'd got it right.

The technical bit
Coming up with the design concept and learning about the technical bit really went hand in hand as I tried to experiment with what I could achieve. I mostly used Inkscape, a free graphic design program, as my canvas. I'm a miser so buying a proper graphic design program wasn't an option when I could download one for free. Inkscape isn't the most user friendly software in the world and I had to rely heavily on online tutorials to do even the most basic things but once you get going, you can do some pretty cool effects. I found this tutorial blog the most helpful.

The layout
I use Blogsopt as my host and I've been fairly happy with it. I know a lot of people use Wordpress and I had a look into transferring but found that you have to pay for things if you want a really good package, and like I said, I'm a miser. Blogspot isn't as technically brilliant but it has a lot of blog design potential. If you go into the Template section and then Customise and Advanced, there's a section called Add CSS. It's an excellent place to tweak your blog design. For example I wanted to centralise the tabs under my header so I inserted this code which did the job:

.PageList {text-align:center !important;}
.PageList li {display:inline !important; float:none !important;}

Again, I had to rely on Google to help me add codes, but thankfully there's plenty of html tutorials out there, you just have to search for what you need and experiment.

Gadgets and widgets
I always think that adding social media buttons gives a cleaner more professional finish to a blog. I found my social media buttons free on Carrie Loves. I used this tutorial to find out how to add them to my blog.

So that's that for my grand blog update. I'd say that the moral of the story is to browse the internet for inspiration and then experiment, experiment, experiment. How about you, have you updated your blog recently?


  1. Great post! I too am trying to update my blog but really struggling though no technical knowledge (I cannot make BlogSpot work!). I'm trying to transfer to Wordpress but all so complicated. Thanks for the links to the tutorials - I'll have a look. Your new blog looks great! Well done!

    1. Aaaaww, thanks Eleanor, let me know if you need any help with anything! Good luck with Wordpress! :)

  2. Thank you for all the tips, this us a great post. I am so not a techical expert when it comes to blog design, so I need all the help I can get! Loving the new blog look.

  3. Great tips! I may have to refer back to this in the near future!