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Dear Marianne // 01 Blog Design Feedback

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

“How does my header look?”

“What type of font would you suggest I use for an accent?”

“Do I need more color?”

I know you have questions about your blog. Or maybe you just want me to take a quick look at your design and tell you what I think.

Sorry, comments are closed for July, but come back and ask on the next Dear Marianne post on August 1st, 2014!

Well you’re in luck because the first Friday of every month is now dedicated to the “Dear Marianne” Blog Advice column. (Ok so since tomorrow is the 4th of July here in the states, I moved it up to Thursday this time).

I’ll give each comment one quick tip. Questions that require longer answers may be saved for a future post.

The advice column is open today from 6am to 6pm MST so if you miss the window, you’ll have to wait til next month, so don’t delay! You may want to sign up below for my email list to get monthly reminders.

Now it’s over to you:

If you’ve got one specific question you’d like to ask me, leave a comment below.
If you just want me to take a look and give you a quick tip about your blog’s design, leave a comment below.
Don’t forget to leave your URL!

The wonderful thing about public advice is that everyone can learn something from each other’s blogs so be sure to share this as the more questions we get, the more you’ll learn!

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  • Kailey says:

    How big is too big for pictures on a blog? I love the idea of big beautiful pictures but is that inconvenient for the reader?

    I’d love for you to take a look at my site and let me know what you think!


    • Marianne says:

      Hi Kailey, I don’t know that there is a hard, fast rule for photo sizes, however you should make sure that the images are optimized and condensed for faster viewing. Otherwise they could take a long time to load and turn people away. If you don’t use Photoshop for optimizing images, try this free tool:

      I like your blog! The consistency in design elements and colors is great. The only thing I think is a little off is the first link in your top nav because it wraps to two lines and looks a bit strange. I’d just shorten that to “About Me” or even just “About.”

  • prabhat ks says:

    I would like to know the best theme to use for setting my WordPress blog in the free section which facilitates the maximum customization with maximum features in it.
    Also can you suggest me the best fonts that can be used for official works.
    Thank you.

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Prabhat,
      So your first question is pretty difficult to answer. There are thousands upon thousands of free themes and I can’t say I am familiar with too many of them. It also depends on what type of features, style, etc. you are looking for. I will say though that if you are looking for maximum features, you’d probably be better off investing the small amount in a premium theme with support from a company like WooThemes, Elegant Themes, Genesis or iThemes. There are of course many more, but these are quite reliable from my experience.

      Can you clarify your 2nd question? I am not sure I understand what you mean by official works.

  • Angel Y. says:

    What an exciting column idea! Looking forward to seeing how you help out bloggers with their design needs. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Marianne says:

      Thanks Angel! Me too, I am quite curious to see what kinds of questions people have and this will really help me to shape future posts and product offerings too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Roopini says:

    I would like to know comments on my new blog design and suggestions on font styles. Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚ I just love your blog so much and your e book gave me lot of confidence to start my blog. Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Marianne says:

      Thank you Roopini, that’s sweet! I am so glad to know my blog has had an impact on you ๐Ÿ™‚

      I like the design and the colors are soothing. I have two suggestions for you:

      1. Try adding this style to the following class in your stylesheet: .header-outer {margin: -10px; }
      That will remove the white borders around your header image. This is personal preference and you may not like it but I think it looks better to have the image go all the way to the edges of the content area.

      2. Fonts: I think your fonts are fine. You have two main fonts with nice contrast: a serif for headings and sans-serif for body copy and a script accent for your sidebar headings. However I am thinking the Georgia font for your headings is a little old fashioned for your overall design. Try finding a nice slab serif in Google fonts or even a thicker sans-serif. Let me know when you change it and i’ll be happy to look again and let you know what I think. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Deborah says:

    Hi Marianne.

    I’ve paid to have my website put together properly and although it looks way better than the one I did, it just doesn’t feel right at the moment. I think I had certain expectations and I chose the colours but the header was a point of concern and it just doesn’t gel with me.

    Because of the background in the header the colours aren’t as alive as I would have liked. I did say I liked the blackboard look but it just isn’t right!! I decided to move onto the rest of the site construction and leave the header till later because I was concerned that we weren’t on the same page at all and it could jeopardise the rest of the job.

    Anyway the last thing to complete is the sign up and I’m still trying to get my head around how I do the newsletter.

    Would love you to take a look and tell me what you think.

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Deborah! I got your message about the newsletter. I will get back to you on that asap.
      As for the design…. hmm i see what you mean, the header does feel like it needs a little more vibrance. I like your about sidebar section probably because it has a lighter background. Could you have the header redone with a lighter background perhaps?

      Or you could try replacing the dark coral colors with that light peach/pink instead. The nav bar background could be lighter as well as the logo. That would lighten up the color scheme if you still wanted to keep the chalkboard background.

      My other suggestion would be to move the ad at the top of the sidebar down below your about section. You’ll want your opt-in there at the top and then your about since those are two very important thing people should notice right away. You already have an ad at the top of your top post so that should be enough for the top section of the page.

      • Deborah says:

        Thanks Marianne. Yes I think I’ll change the header. She hasn’t put the sign up box back yet so I’m wondering if the html code I got from MailChimp was right. I think the ads are too heavy and this was confirmed by a third party site I used to review and give feedback on the site – too many ads and too big so I need to find out how to ditch some of them. was the site I used. Random people look at the site then video their review and send it back within 24hrs.

        • Marianne says:

          thanks for sharing that site, I just submitted mine too. great find!
          let me know when you update the header, i’d love to see it!

  • Gina Marie says:

    I’m trying to find the “Me” in my design and just can’t get there. I am in the process of designing a water color header with my blog name in Great Vibes and Amatic Caps (like my profile pic) Will make water color social media buttons to match and some sidebar decoration to match also. I’m using Pantone colors Orchid, Rosebud, Cool Blue, and Bay in the header design. My question is font, I love Amatic font but don’t know where to put it and what other fonts go with it.

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Gina Marie!
      I would suggest you choose either Amatic or Great Vibes for your titles and headings. I know you have them both in your logo, but you dont have to use them both in the rest of the design. I don’t know that it would work. So try playing with each one at a time and see which you think you like better.

      Btw, I love the color scheme you are going to use, very soothing!

  • Dean says:

    Hey Marianne! Excellent idea! That’s supposed to be one of the secrets to generating post ideas, right? Ask your readers directly!!

    As you probably know from the Masterclass, I cannot for the life of me figure out how to change the background color in the caption area around an image. The font is white, and the background is a light gray, which makes the captions very hard to read! I’m using the Canvas theme in WordPress.

    Keep in mind, I know less than zero about coding, so the dumber you can make the advice, the better!

    BTW, I’m contemplating yet another design change anyway. I had a very talented friend design a spiffy new logo for me, which I love but doesn’t work with the current design. I’m thinking a turn-of-the-20th-Century newspaper look. Do you have good ideas for font resources for those styles?

    Thanks Marianne! Hope things are well with you.


    • Marianne says:

      Hi Dean, yep that’s right. I actually didn’t come up with this idea all on my own though.. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Ok so your captions. You have access to a custom style sheet right? If so, to change the light gray background to something else, you’ll need to change the background value in the style definition for this class:
      .entry .wp-caption

      If you want to change the color of the text instead, add a “color: black” (or whatever color you want) to this class:
      .entry .wp-caption-text

      If you aren’t sure what this all means, you’ll want to take a look at my CSS basics article here:

      Font suggestions for turn of the century? Hmm… i don’t really know off hand of any just because I don’t know too much about that period but I’m sure if you start searching for the terms, you’ll find something you like. Sorry that wasn’t much help!

  • Trina says:

    Hi, I’m just ‘in progress ‘ on my site.
    I would like to set up a page which only subscribers can access – (I’m wordpress and Woo themes Canvas) so it they have access once they have added their email address to mail chimp.
    Also I’d like to install a break between posts like a pretty flower or something, I think I saw a tutorial on your site but can’t find it now.
    Thanks for all the excellent posts and props you deliver Marianne. You are doing a great job and I really do read everything.. Thank you Trina

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Trina, thank you!
      Ok, so I haven’t gotten into creating subscriber-only pages so the only way I know to easily set up a subscriber only page would be to create a password protected page (this is in the edit post page, top right) and send the password out to your subscribers.

      I’m sure there are more sophisticated ways to do this, but I am not sure how. I would think that WooThemes would have some sort of plugin for this perhaps?

      As for adding a break between posts…. I don’t have a tutorial for that, but it’s a great idea for one. Wish I could tell you in this comment, but it would take longer than that. I’ll try to create one sooner than later!

Comments are closed.