Dear Marianne // 15 Blog Design Feedback

Dear Marianne. Monthly Open Office Hours for Free Blog Design Feedback and Advice. Come and ask me anything about your blog's design every first Friday of the month!

Dear Marianne. Monthly Open Office Hours for Free Blog Design Feedback and Advice. Come and ask me anything about your blog's design every first Friday of the month!

“Hey Marianne, what do you think…?”

“Is my blog outdated?”

“I’m struggling with my images…”

Free Blog Design Feedback

I know how it is, sometimes you just need a second pair of eyes. A fresh perspective. Are you looking for blog design feedback or advice? Awesome, bring me your Q’s!

Today is my monthly version of Open Office Hours! I love this First Friday post because it helps me to learn what you’re struggling with. So ask me whatever your heart desires below today (as long as it’s about blog design)!

Important!

Because of the growth of this monthly post, after this month Dear Marianne will continue but only for subscribers to DYOB. Dates and times will be sent out via email the week before. As a bonus, you’ll also receive free access to the library of goodies!

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Ok so here are the “rules” to participate 😉

  • Leave your question in the comments below. 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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49 Comments

  • Ciara says:

    Hi Marianne,

    I’m just launching my blog and would love if you could give some expert feedback on it
    Thanks
    Ciara

  • Raluca says:

    Dear Marianne,

    I recently moved my blog over from blogspot to wordpress and also worked a little bit on the design. I wanted to ask for your opinion whether there is something I could change to the way my homepage and the about page look like.

    Also, I was wondering whether I should make the sidebar a little bit wider?

    Thank you so much and have a nice day,
    Raluca,
    Raluca recently posted…Toamna e vremea începuturilor – Cursuri de dans cu Aire Dance SchoolMy Profile

  • Cyntra says:

    Hey!

    I would love to know your thoughts on my blog.

    I want to drive traffic but more importantly comments to the page.
    How can I engage my audience more?

    How can I keep people on the page longer to they see all the articles.

    Do you like the layout?

    Thanks
    Xx

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Cyntra, thanks for participating this month! The layout of your blog is great! It’s very simple and easy to read.

      I mostly answer design-related questions but I can give you a few ideas to get more traffic. I don’t know what you’re doing already so these may not be the answers you’re looking for but start by writing super useful content that people are looking for. You may have to do some audience research to learn what they want or need. It helps to have a niche or focus for your content so that you can target a specific group of people rather than going after everyone.

      The other thing is that you have to engage a lot with people OUTSIDE of your blog. Use social media, Pinterest, etc. and connect with people. Comment on other people’s blogs and join groups to make connections. Try and be as helpful as you can to others and they will be drawn to you.

      You might also want to learn more about SEO. At the end of the day, it takes a lot of work and dedication to get traffic and there is not a one size fits all answer unfortunately. Hope that helps!

  • Jas says:

    Would love some feedback on my blog! Is it easy to navigate? Does it look inviting?
    Jas x
    Jas recently posted…October Goals – Spoopy Edition!My Profile

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Jas thanks for commenting! Here are my thoughts:

      On first glance, the blog is absolutely beautiful, the typography is fab and the images are gorgeous, you are quite talented my friend! I will be honest though, it is a little difficult to navigate. I started by clicking the hamburger menu up top and clicked around. When i got to your portfolio, I got stuck and couldn’t figure out how to get back to the blog without hitting ‘back’ a bunch of times.

      I went back to the blog and scrolled a few times to the right and only by accident did I realize i could scroll down. I really do love the full page photography but some people may never discover the blog below and that’s my fear for you. I wonder if you could add something like a down arrow or some indication to make it more obvious that there is more below?

  • Tiffany says:

    Thank you so much for having this type of forum! I want to get my graphics right! Take a look please and give me feedback. I recently changed my blog post images, you actually gave me some feedback on that over on the Facebook page. I want to grow my audience, I feel that my content is good but my numbers aren’t going anywhere. Figured I would start with the images. I know that being on Blogger makes me somewhat limited but I’ve seen bloggers who are having great success still using the Blogger format. Thanks in advance for your help!
    Tiffany recently posted…Friday Fandom No. 6My Profile

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Tiffany so glad you joined in this month!

      So before I get into the images, I want to say a few things about the blog itself. I feel like it needs a little more direction for a newcomer. Something that grabs my attention and tells me what I need to learn there. I didn’t notice your tagline right away so maybe making it a little darker or bigger would help. Your sidebar bio is great. Totally helped me get it when i did read it.

      I am thinking that perhaps some better categories in your menu could help. Things that are more descriptive of your content. Ask yourself what your ideal reader would be looking for. What kind of information or what do they need help with? What are her frustrations? I think that if you could help her find the answers to her problems or questions right away, you might get people to stick around longer.

      Think about making the post on your About page sticky so that it’s always at the top of your home page. This can help draw people in. Then add a few links to your most helpful or most popular posts. Give people a place to start.

      Now to your images. I love some of your images like the 6 Remarkable Things one and the one before that too (1 Thing your Tween’s School Needs). I like the full size images with the text overlay. I’m not a huge fan of the latest one for Friday Fandom. Perhaps if you used a full size image instead of half and then overlaid the text on top?

      I hope that’s helpful to you!

  • Rachel says:

    I just have a small simple blog but would love some advice on how to improve it!
    Thanks, Rachel

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Rachel, I think that overall the blog looks great! The design is clean and simple. I’d just like to see more posts available at a time. You have a lot of posts but it only shows 2 or 3 at a time down below so I have to keep clicking “older” to go through them. I would at least show 10 posts per page.

      I’d also add a sidebar bio/photo to let people know more about your blog without having to click anywhere to find out. Check out this post: http://designyourownblog.com/blog-sidebar-profile-photos-mini-bios/

      I noticed a few missing letters in your widget titles. In the sidebar: ollow by Email is missing the F and in the footer: earch is missing an S.

      Thanks for stopping by, hope to see you next month!

  • Rebecca Wood says:

    I am launching a new blog, and decided I really like the rolling front page design, but I wanted a static blog page. What I’ve done is start another website at sewrecipeblog . com (nothing published yet I want to get a month of content on auto publish first) How do I link the top menu to the blog? I’ve looked in the CSS and have gotten nothing but intimidated.
    Rebecca Wood recently posted…Coming Soon!My Profile

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Rebecca it looks great, so nice job! Do you have a page created named ‘Blog’ yet? If so, then you should be able to go into Appearance > Menu and add the page there. Every theme is different so let me know if that’s not it.

      Thanks for commenting!

  • Anka says:

    Hi Marianne,
    I’m working in design and content and would love your feedback. This site is growing into being the hub of my different online activities. How is the overall feel and is there anything you think should be different?
    Thank you so much!
    Anka

    • Marianne says:

      Welcome back Anka! I like the blog but my first thought is there is a bit too much yellow. I played around with changing the background of the menu bar to match the color of the text in your blog’s name and that helped to add a little more contrast.

      I then changed the body background to just white and I think it’s very light and minimal. But if you don’t like it all white, you could add a background color to the header. I thought either yellow looked quite nice (the one that’s behind the body and header now or the one behind the menu bar).

      Let me know what you think!

  • Laura says:

    Hey Marianne,

    First, I want to say you are a STAR for doing this every month!!

    I launched my new blog a couple of weeks ago and I am after some general design advice from a pro! Mainly, if you have any comments on the overall design / colour scheme / graphics and if you think it’s missing anything.

    Thank you so much,
    Laura x
    Laura recently posted…The Easy How to Guide to growing your Squarespace Blog with PinterestMy Profile

    • Marianne says:

      Wow Laura, I think it looks REALLY great! I am loving the colors, the layout, everything! It seriously looks bad ass. My only critique is that maybe you could darken the watermark text in the form fields just a tad as they are a little hard to read because they’re so light.

      But that’s really it Laura, such a great job!

  • Hi Marianne!
    I have been hold off for months to ask you what you think about my site. It was no where near what I pictured in my head. I am ready now to handle constructive criticism . Lay it on me!

    What do you thing of my website? Is there anything I need to add, remove, or change? I blogging about being a Proverbs 31 woman. I want women to find encouragement to be able to handle all that goes on in life and not give up on their dreams. Do you feel the look of my site conveys that message?

    Thank you for taking the time to do this every month. I truly appreciate all that you do!

    • Marianne says:

      Oh Standeline really? I am so glad you finally asked! 🙂

      While there is nothing necessarily wrong with the design, I don’t think that your blog conveys the message you want it to. The tagline is a little vague so you could start there. I’d also definitely add a photo of yourself with a bio to the top of the sidebar that explains what you offer your readers here at your blog. What problems are they facing and coming to you for help with? That’s where you should start with your bio.

      I think those two things would go a long way to helping both your message and your design.

      Here are two resources to start with:
      http://designyourownblog.com/write-blog-tagline-worksheet/
      http://designyourownblog.com/blog-sidebar-profile-photos-mini-bios/

      One other thing: I’d love to see a larger logo/site name. Maybe even a cute logo template could go a long way towards enhancing the design. Check out luvly.co or CreativeMarket.com for affordable templates.

  • Caressa says:

    Hey Marianne,

    I launched my DIY blog only this week and would love to know your thoughts. There are obvious tweaks and add ons that I will do over this month but, your perspective and critique is much appreciated. 🙂

    One thing I would like your opinion on. My brand colors are black & gold (primarily) and accent of coral for links and clickable items. My issue is throughout my post when I add buttons for content upgrades, newsletter subscriptions, etc, I am torn between using a gold button (which I love. And I heard yellow attracts more people to commit to pressing the button) or a coral button. I have examples of both within my post so you can have a opportunity to check it out.

    Thank you so much and can’t wait for your response.

    • Caressa says:

      Posting again because I don’t think my site is clickable with my name.

    • Caressa says:

      CaressaLenae(dot)com

      Sorry, having issues. It’s dying couldn’t resolve host. I’ll have to check into it.

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Caressa!
      I am so glad to see you here and I didn’t realize you only just launched your blog! Congratulations!! And btw, thank you so much for joining in my first scope tonight, it means a lot!

      Ok so back to the blog… I love the design, you did such a wonderful job on it really. I absolutely LOVE your photo at the top. It’s infectious and I already love you on first glance!

      The only thing I would try and fix (and this is minor, really) is lining up the width of the top image with the content below. It looks a little bit off the way is now. Can you widen the photo or make your content column a little narrower? Let me know if you need help figuring that out.

      To answer your question about the buttons… I could go either way on them. I recognized the gold buttons as buttons so they didn’t confuse me and actually since all your links are coral, it helps give the content a little contrast to have the gold buttons. If you like them gold, leave them gold!

      One tiny thing on them: could you make the text a tad smaller on the buttons so that you have a bit more padding on the left and right? Picky things I know!! 😉

  • Hey Marianne!! I’ve got a purchased theme from restored316 and have noticed that on large monitors everything seems really wide instead of staying within a certain width on the page and displaying more of the background. I know there is probably a way to use css to make it more standardized, my worry is that it may mess up settings on mobile devices.
    Question: Can you tell me what code to use to make it so my template doesn’t appear too wide on larger screens, while making sure my theme is still responsive?
    Thanks! Been loving your fresh new design btw 😊
    Meghan @ The Twin Cedars recently posted…Lucky Number 7 | My Spin on a Traditional Copper GiftMy Profile

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Meghan, I’m so glad to see you here!
      So hmm… I don’t see that happening only because I’m on my laptop right now and the width looks fine. I tried looking at it in a device simulator but it still looks ok to me. Maybe you’ve fixed it since?

      If not, let me know please and when I get back to a large screen monitor on Thursday, I’ll be happy to look again.

      My guess would be that you’re either missing a max-width on a certain media query in your CSS or it’s accidentally set too wide. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, hit me up on twitter! @marianney

  • Harriet says:

    Hi! This is so generous of you to do 🙂

    I recently moved my site over to Squarespace from wordpress and I’ve added some new services for small businesses, so I’d love your feedback before I start sending the link out to potential new clients!

    http://www.harrietrosie.com/

    Thanks! 🙂

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Harriet, thanks for joining in this month! And congrats on moving to WP 🙂

      I love the colors and the sweet design of your blog. I would LOVE to see you switch your photo/intro and the 3 boxes because I didn’t see your photo / intro before scrolling and it makes a big difference knowing who’s behind the blog. When I saw it, I immediately felt more drawn to your site. I tested it in the code inspector and I personally think it looks better, plus you still see the tops of the 3 boxes below.

      Just something to think about…..

      One other thing: you might seriously consider not using images for your text because search engines will never be able to read your content that way. You can recreate the same look using text and CSS. If you need help, let me know by hitting me up on Twitter @marianney

  • Liv Faye says:

    Hi Marianne!

    I recently changed the look of my landing page a little bit. I haven’t launched because I’m guest posting (with success 🙂 ), so I will wait to grow my email list first. I’d love to know your opinion about the new look of my landing page :). Also, do you think it’s better to have an email series as an opt-in offer instead of a report? I have a report, but I feel an email series (like a challenge) would be more enticing. What are your thoughts?

    Thanks, you’re an inspiring and fantastic solopreneur 🙂
    Liv Faye recently posted…Setup Instructions for v2.41 LiteMy Profile

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Liv, it’s hard to say whether people would prefer an email series over a report. There are pros/cons to both: a report gives you the info immediately but a series would draw people in longer…. maybe. If they continue to read them.

      I think your best bet is to try one at a time (or A/B test if you have that ability) and see which performs better.

      The landing page looks much better! It’s easy to read now and I know right away what it’s about and how you can help. Nice job and congrats! Looking forward to your launch! Please be sure to let me know when it happens.

  • Marypat says:

    I’d love some feedback about the header for my blog. I’m not 100% happy with it. I think it’s too big and not very inviting. I’d also like some feedback on the general feel of my blog.

    Thank you!
    Marypat recently posted…Six Tips for Making Parent’s Night a Piece of CakeMy Profile

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Marypat! Thanks for joining us!

      I agree with you, the header is a little big. I think you could stand to make it a little shorter in height. Since your site name is in the logo at the left, I think you could get rid of it on the right in white and just leave the tagline to the right of the logo. That could help reduce the height by quite a bit because you could take away some of the padding above and below.

      Hope that helps you! Let me know. 🙂

  • Denise says:

    Hi Marianne!

    My site is a few months old. I’m looking for general thoughts, feedback, tips, etc…
    Your content helped me with colors and I hope to implement even more of your advice.
    Thanks for looking!

    Denise
    Denise recently posted…Motivation Mini-Cards Create a Positive EnvironmentMy Profile

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Denise, so glad you’re here!
      I think the site looks wonderful and your topics are so intriguing! I really love the soft colors and the simple typography. There’s really only one tiny thing I would change. It involved CSS. If you’re not sure how to edit it, check this post out first: http://designyourownblog.com/how-to-edit-css-in-your-blog/

      The change I’d love to see is to give your site title/tagline more width so the tagline doesn’t wrap in desktop view. Here’s how to do that:

      Change the following widths:

      .title-area {
      width: 400px;
      }

      .site-header .widget-area {
      width: 500px;
      }

      Let me know if you need more help with it! You can tweet me @marianney

  • Amy says:

    Marianne,

    This is an amazing offer! Thank you so much.

    I launched my website a few months ago, and I know it still needs work. I would love to hear your general impression of the site (how it makes you feel, etc. when you first visit) along with any other feedback or suggestions you might have. I sincerely want to improve, so I am open to serious criticism.

    Thank you for your time and honest feedback!
    Amy

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Amy,
      You’re so welcome and I’m glad to see you join in. Congrats on your recent launch!

      First impressions: the colors are definitely strong and I think that goes with your power words in your menu. That said, it feels like an exercise website. Now I get that you have a few posts in that topic, but it doesn’t look like all of them are. Perhaps adding a tagline to your header would help. Try this post: http://designyourownblog.com/write-blog-tagline-worksheet/

      I also don’t like the 2 logos. I would pick one or the other and keep it in your header. You could either center it in your header or you could left align it and right align your tagline next to it.

      This would allow you to bring up your photo and bio to the top of the sidebar so that there’s more explanation about the blog on first glance. I also recommend adding a larger photo of you, we want to see that pretty smile!

      Ok and one more thing: if you used square-cornered overlays on your post images instead of the soft rounded corners, it would match the rest of the design better.

      Overall though, I think it looks good. I like the strong square corners everywhere else and the simplicity throughout the design. It’s very clean looking. I hope that helps and that I wasn’t too harsh 🙂

  • Hey Marianne!

    I am excited for you to be doing this and thank you. I am always looking for things to improve with my blog so if you have any suggestions on any change I could make, definitely let me know. 🙂

    Thanks!

    ~Kaitlin
    Kaitlin @ Next Page Please! recently posted…Blog Tour: Future Perfect by Jen Larsen (Interview and Giveaway!My Profile

  • Dear Marianne:

    I need to write a good about page but don´t know what to include to make it interesting. Any advice?

    I don´t sell anything in my blog. Do I need a landing page?

    I want to install a pop up plug in to get people to suscribe to my blog? Can you recomend me one?

    Thank you!!!

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Laura, good to “see” you!

      I have a great post on About pages right here:
      http://designyourownblog.com/explosive-about-page/

      You don’t necessarily need a landing page, but a good landing page does help to direct people to your content and give people a taste of what you offer. But no it’s not necessary if you don’t plan to sell anything and just want people to follow your blog.

      That said, is there a reason you want to add a popup subscription form? Do you plan to sell one day? Because if not, it’s not really necessary to built your list up that way. Popups are very obtrusive and if it’s not necessary to grow a large list you might want to just stay away from them and add a form to your sidebar. Here’s how to customize one if you go this route:
      http://designyourownblog.com/how-to-design-a-custom-opt-in-form-without-a-plugin-part-1/

      However, if you do decide to get a pop up form, I have never used one, so can’t recommend one based on experience, but I believe that a lot of people use SumoMe:
      https://sumome.com/app/list-builder

      Let me know if you still have questions @marianney on Twitter!

  • Laura says:

    Thank so much Marianne for your feedback! Will help me a lot. I appreciate very much your comments.

    Kind regards.

Comments are closed.