Dear Marianne // 11 Blog Design Feedback

Dear Marianne: a monthly Blog Design advice column from DesignYourOwnBlog.com. Come and ask me anything about your blog's design every first Friday of the month!

Dear Marianne: a monthly Blog Design advice column from DesignYourOwnBlog.com. Come and ask me anything about your blog's design every first Friday of the month!

“Help! What do I do…?”

“What do you think of these colors?”

“Do you think I should _____?”

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Hey! It’s Q+A Day on DYOB! That’s the day where you can ask me anything your heart desires about your blog’s design! This is my favorite post of the month so hit me with your best questions!

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  • Leave your question in the comments today. Comments are open for a full 24 hours (12am – 12am Mountain/USA time). I’ll come back and post replies throughout the weekend.
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36 Comments

  • Anne says:

    I have my header at the maximum size it can be (I think at least!). Do you find it to be too small? Also, loved your sneak peak of what’s coming with your changes. I am a huge lover of fonts…can I ask what you used in your new header (the Design Your Own Blog)? I love the clean looks and lines of it!

    Thanks for doing this…I love your feedback!
    Anne recently posted…Blogger Love Vol. 39My Profile

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Anne, thank you so much! I used Bebas Neue for the main font and VeryBerry for the script in the word ‘lovely.’ Thanks for letting me know!

      As for your header, I don’t think it’s too small, no. In fact, I believe my current logo is about the same size. But that said, it certainly won’t hurt if you’d like to make it larger, say 700 or 800px wide instead of 500.

      You will need to add some styles in your custom style sheet to do that though. If you don’t have another style sheet other than style.css when you go to Appearance > Edit, then you’ll need to create one. You can use this tutorial here: http://designyourownblog.com/blog-design/learn-easy-html-code-css/how-to-edit-css-in-your-blog/

      Then you’ll want to add this:

      .header-image .site-title a {
      max-width: 700px;
      }

      and obviously upload a new image at that size. This may affect the way the logo appears in mobile view so if the proportions are wonky, let me know and i’ll see how we can fix that. (send me a tweet @marianney)

  • Betty says:

    Hello Dear Marianne 🙂

    I missed this fantastic opportunity last last time, but I am happy that I can write to you today.
    I just want your honest opinion / advice regarding the design / colors or anything else really regarding my blog.

    Thank you in advance!

    Regards,
    Betty
    Betty recently posted…Hair Color Ideas for SpringMy Profile

    • Marianne says:

      Betty, I’m so glad you made it this month, yay! First of all… dang girl you seriously ROCK that red! It’s so awesome on you, i really love it! Ok, just had to get that out…

      Your blog. I love so many things about it, it’s actually really great. However, there is ONE small disconnect for me: I love the top, it’s all watercolor light and sweet, but the rest of the design is a little bolder and edgier, especially down at the bottom. I love both styles! But they don’t really go together. It’s not jarring by any means, but I think maybe a little more work on blending the header with the rest or vice versa would really tie it all together nicely.

      Hit me up on Twitter if you have more questions @marianney

  • Sarah says:

    Marianne last week you suggested a few tweaks to my new blog. Previously I’d just copied and pasted full blocks of text just to get started and online. I’ve played around with it a bit now – would love it if you could have a quick look and give me feedback. Many thanks!

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Sarah, much much better with the spacing!

      So a few things… first, be sure to include your image and a quick bio in your sidebar that tells visitors what the site can do for them. The reason is that people may land on a post page from a link instead of the home page and they wouldn’t have any idea what the blog was about. For more on that, check out this post: http://designyourownblog.com/blog-design/blog-sidebar-profile-photos-bios/
      A tagline in your header would be beneficial as well.

      The only other thing I’d say is to see if you can add an image to the top of the blog page like you have on your home and about pages. It would add a little more personality to the page.

      Hope this helps! Feel free to hit me up on Twitter if you have questions @marianney

  • Jen says:

    You are wonderful for doing this for us! I am so new to WP that I missed your last ask anything.

    Can you explain how we could use a image in our sidebars instead of text? That one is totally confusing me. I would love to have a row of simple images that link to pages, or other sites…but nothing I do seems to work.

    Thanks so much! Jen @ The LIght Laughed

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Jen, so glad you made it this time! First of all, LOVE the blog. It’s so fresh and clean and those colors! It really is beautiful!

      If I’m understanding you correctly, you want to add images to your sidebar widgets. You have to do that using HTML and the easiest way to do this is to install a plugin called Tiny MCE Editor. It’s basically the same visual editor that’s used on post pages.

      Hope that helps! Feel free to tweet me if you have more questions @marianney

  • Crystal says:

    Marianne!! You rock. I’ve used your resources to solidify my colors and fonts. I love juicy colors and want my site to have a fun and happy, yet stylish, look. I worry about it looking childish. (<– This has always been my issue with using color – online, in my home, in my wardrobe!) I often end up overthinking it! I try to just go with my intuition and what makes me smile. What kind of feeling do you get when you visit my site? Also, I had issues with the header and have finally figured it out. I've been playing with the size of my logo. Now I'm worried it might be a smidgen too big. Thoughts? Oh, and any other thoughts you might have about the design and layout of my site is much appreciated. I'm still tweaking things! Thanks!!

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Crystal! I’m so happy about your blog! (no pun intended, really)
      Colors childish? No! I love those colors actually and have considered them several times for my own blog. You did good on them and the bright colors are fun just like your title and still feminine.

      You know, I think the logo did look a little better when it was smaller. I’d say somewhere around 550-600px wide would be good. Other than that, looking good. I’m so happy to hear my resources played a part in this 🙂 See you in #50workdays!

  • Ok, now that I’ve added “ecourse instructor” and “ebook author” to my resume, even though I’m primarily a DIY blogger, I’m trying to figure out the best way to seamlessly blend the two – the DIY blog and the business portion. Should I use a theme with a static home page that links to each section? I’m worried that my negatively impact one or the other from a design standpoint, so what do you recommend? I already have pages in my menu…
    Kirsten – Sweet Tea & Saving Grace recently posted…60 DIY Mother’s Day Gift IdeasMy Profile

    • Marianne says:

      That’s a great question Kirsten and I’m so glad you’re here 🙂 I don’t think that it would be bad to include both in your home page. Plenty of lifestyle/DIY bloggers also sell blogging products. Look at A Beautiful Mess.

      But I think you also need to look at the majority of your audience and see what they come to your blog for. Is it for the DIY only? Or are most of them bloggers too that would appreciate your book/course?

      So here’s what I’m thinking… add a tagline to your header that clearly tells people what your blog is about and I’m guessing most people come for the DIY so have your tagline speak to them.

      Then, down where you have the 2 boxes that say About and Blog (below the slider), can you change the first one to say something about your course?

      Then if you’re able to, I’d add a new row below your “Latest from the Blog” area that is all about the book and course.

      Hope that gives you some ideas. If you need to bounce more off me, you know where to find me 😉

  • I’m a new member to your Facebook group and would love feedback on my design/layout. Any feedback is appreciated, what I need to fix. Thanks!
    Tanya @ Mom’s Small Victories recently posted…May 2015 Blogging, Reading and Home GoalsMy Profile

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Tanya so glad you made it over today! For the most part, your blog looks good! Just a few tweaks and it’ll be great:

      Play with your nav to get all the links up on one line. Right now, the last link is wrapping and that’s no good. You can either lessen the padding between links:

      .top-nav > li > a:first-child {
      padding: 0 10px;
      }

      Or reduce the font size or change the font to a thinner font. When I changed the font size to 14px in the browser element inspector they all fit.

      Or you could always reduce the amount of links. Try moving Disclosure to either the footer or bottom of the sidebar. It’s doesn’t need to be so prominent.

      One other thing: the border around the navbar is too dark. A light blue that matches the background would look really nice:

      .custom-nav-styles {
      border: 1px solid #A1D6E1;
      border-left: none;
      border-right: none;
      }

      If you have any questions, let me know in the group or on Twitter @marianney

  • Tracy Gum says:

    Hi
    Absolutely love your blog, your info and thanks for giving your help….
    I’m very confused over photo sizing when designing my website. We are in the process of building a new website ….
    If my site is going to be 1600px wide … What is the best way to work out how to upload the right size photos and graphics for a WP site to make sure the photo file size is not too big but will look great on the site.
    Is there a way to work out the best sizes for the site & / or is there a good WP program that will help with good optimisation.
    Thanks
    Tracy

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Tracy, thanks for joining us this month. It’s difficult to answer your question fully without seeing your website. Is the full width of the site going to stretch from edge to edge in the browser window or will it stop at exactly 1600px?

      If you’re site is responsive (which I hope it is), you will probably want to make your images responsive so that they adapt to the screen size it’s on.

      I hope that helps gives a little insight.

  • Emily says:

    Hi Marianne,

    Thanks for offering this! I think one thing that I am self-conscious of is my blog header/logo. I recently switched from Blogger to WP.org and love how clean my design is, but concerned that my header does not match the design or aesthetic. Do you have any feedback or advice on it?

    Thank you so much!
    Emily
    ​​Something Gold, Something Blue

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Emily, glad to see you here 🙂
      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with your header. It matches the design just fine. I think that if it’s bothering you, maybe try some different fonts out for the blog name.

      Something like one of these http://designyourownblog.com/blog-design/hand-lettered-calligraphy-fonts-feminine-design/

      Or maybe a thicker brush script might suit it better? Something like Manhattan, Bonjour or Smitten, all of which can be found on creativemarket.com

      If you still have questions, find me in the group or on Twitter @marianney

  • Mariana says:

    Hello!
    My biggest concern right now is with overall coloring: are the colors too light? Is the header too light? Does it need a little bit of sunshine yellow in the photos or something to balance it out?
    Thanks for doing this!
    Mariana

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Mariana!
      So happy for your new design! No I don’t think it’s too light but yes, I think adding in some yellow would look really nice!

      One other thing I would do personally is go with a much thinner border around the sidebar. I think it draws the attention away from your content. Try this:

      div#secondary.widget-area.sidebar-widget-area {
      border: 1px solid #8eceb4;
      }

      Either 1 or 2 px wide should do the trick.

      Let me know in the group if you have questions.

  • Please come check out my blog. Can you tell me how I can improve it in any way?

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Mariel, thanks for joining this month! Here’s a few things you can work on this month:

      1. Create a logo in PicMonkey or get a template from Etsy or Luvly.co. Otherwise, try a nicer font for the blog title and choose a font size that allows it to all sit on one line and centered instead of wrapping.

      2. You might also consider incorporating the large main image into your header/logo. Crop it so it’s not as tall and add your logo or blog name over it. Here are some header ideas you can take a look at: http://designyourownblog.com/blog-design/fix-awkward-blog-headers/

      3. I noticed the font size in your top few posts are quite large, then they get smaller as you scroll down. I would keep the font size consistent at about 16px or so.

      Hit me up on Twitter if you’ve got questions @marianne

  • shashi says:

    Hi there,

    I made my website go live only yesterday but I couldn’t miss this fabulous opportunity to get feedback from you in regard to the site. I will have to re-install the Contact Form but other than that, I would love your comments in regard to the design of the blog. Being in the interior design space this is so important. Thank you so so much!
    shashi recently posted…How to increase re-sale value of your homeMy Profile

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Shashi, congrats on launching your brand new site!! Overall, I think it’s good, I just have a few things I would do to it though:

      1. Like I told Mariel above, get a logo or at least use a font that is not also being used throughout the site because it doesn’t stand out from the rest of the text using the same font and color.

      2. The images in the slider are too small for the size they’re shown at so they appear blurry. I think that as an interior design business it’s imperative to have gorgeous, super focused photos with striking colors that wow people immediately. I would also go for photos of your previous work that show people right away what kind of work you do, as opposed to the abstract textures you have now. I’m looking at your Pinterest widget in the sidebar and those are the types of photos that I’m thinking of.

      Hope that helps, let me know if you have questions @marianne on Twitter.

  • Emily Counts says:

    Hi Marianne,
    This is such a fun idea! Thank you for doing this. Do you have any recommendations for my sidebar? I haven’t touched it in a while and am feeling the itch to clean it up a bit. I’m not a huge fan of my social media icons, and I’d like to better highlight some of my most popular posts. Thanks in advance for the advice!
    Emily Counts recently posted…Fresh Air + Shorter Hair + Friday FavoritesMy Profile

    • Marianne says:

      Hey Emily! Just in time for our May theme: sidebars! We’ll be talking about them all month in the FB group and I’ll publish a few posts and challenges too.

      But in the meantime, just a couple of things: I’d lighten the blue in the header titles. Right now the darker blue draws too much unnecessary attention.

      I’d also use a wider Pinterest widget that takes up more of the width of the sidebar widget.

      There’s a bunch of free social media icons here you can look through: https://www.pinterest.com/marianney/blog-elements-social-media-icons/ and if you can, use a small Bloglovin icon and move it into the same widget as the others, so the rest of your widgets can move up.

      That’s all I’ve got right now, but definitely join in the challenges this month!

  • Ashlynn says:

    Hi Marianne! 😀 One quick question: what’s a color that goes well with purple? (specifically especially dark and especially lights shades) My site’s color scheme is different shades of purple, and in an eKit composed of an eBook and workbook that I am creating, I was looking for an accent color. Thank you for your time!

    • Ashlynn says:

      Also, I have pages on crafts, book reviews, toy/gift reviews and blogging tips, though I’m not quite sure how to combine and link to all of them. There are links in my navigation to all of them, though I’m not positive how I can keep all of the topics without having a cluttered and too much of a “crazy” and “all over the place” feeling on my site.

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Ashlynn,

      I have a post on the color purple that has some suggestion color pairings. Check it out for ideas: http://designyourownblog.com/blog-design/color/purple-and-orchid-color-of-the-year-dyob-color-series/

      As for your topics, I think you’ll need to do some work on discovering your target market and gearing your posts towards how you can help them. That will help you to find a focus for your offerings.

      Good luck and if you have more questions, feel free to tweet me @marianney

  • Thank you for doing this! Would love some feedback on my blog, especially my About Me page. Thanks again!
    Terri @ Alexia’s Books and Such… recently posted…BLOG AHEAD Mini ChallengeMy Profile

  • kelly says:

    hi Marianne
    I just started a new art blog which will show my work etc. right now I am struggling with finding content. But I I would like you to take a look at it and tell me how I can make it more fun looking. I will get there with the content but it needs something presentation wise. Thanks much

  • Marianne says:

    Hi Kelly, congrats on your new blog! I really like your header image, but it’s too small. It should be 880px wide so it’s width matches the rest of the blog’s layout.

    If you want to make it more fun looking, try looking for a new template as the one you are currently using is a bit plain. You can find plenty of free templates by searching on Google or buy very inexpensive ones on Etsy and Luvly.co.

    If you have questions about my feedback, feel free to hit me up on Twitter @marianney or in the Facebook group. 🙂

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