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Dear Marianne // 04 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!

“Can I get some feedback?”

“Do you like this header?”

“What am I missing?”

You’ve got questions about your blog’s design and I’ve got answers. Got a specific question or just want me to take a quick look and give suggestion?

Well you’re in luck!
Because today is the First Friday of the month which means it’s time for the “Dear Marianne” Blog Advice column.

I’ll reply to each comment with one quick tip. Questions that require longer answers may be saved for a future post. So for maximum impact, try and think of a specific question you’d like to ask.

The advice column is open all day today only so if you miss the window, you’ll have to wait til next month, so don’t delay! You’ll want to sign up for my email list to get monthly reminders.

Ok, It’s Your Turn Now!

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 at your blog and give you a quick suggestion about your design, leave a comment below. (You might consider checking the box “Notify me of follow-up comments by email” so you know when I’ve answered your question).

Don’t forget to leave your URL!

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

Comments are closed. The next Dear Marianne column will be November 7th, 2014. See you then!

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  • Claire says:

    hey Marianne, can I get some feedback on the blog I help my husband with? He does the writing, but I do the design and take a lot of the photos, etc:

    (I know the random time stamps are kind of weird, getting rid of them is on my to do list!)

    thanks a lot for your advice, I know you get a ton of requests and you must spend a lot of time and energy helping us out!

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Claire,
      The first thing that stood out to me is that the background image isn’t wide enough for widescreen monitors (that’s what I’m using here at work). If it’s possible to get that image just a tad wider, that would be preferable. It’s not a huge deal since most people are probably viewing your site on smaller screens, but wanted to point it out.

      That said, one other thing I’d change is the silver/gray throughout. I’m not crazy about it with all the browns in your theme. Try using another color from your header or even a complimentary color (something across the color wheel), like a dark blue? Play around with it and see what strikes you.

      Check out:

  • What an awesome – and generous – feature! Will you look at my about page? I’ve recently added some pictures but still have words at the top. I’m debating just using one or the other, or moving the pictures to the top, ahead of the words. Both cover different elements, so I’ve left them both for now. What do you think? Thanks SO much for your feedback!

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Kristen! I like what you did with the photos and text over it, instead of just a boring list of bullets! I’d keep them where they are. Or you can sprinkle the photos between paragraphs that talk about what the photo is about. For example, the 4th paragraph could go above the first two photos and so on.

      Make sense?

      Also, be sure to read this article on about pages:

      • Thank you, Marianne! I couldn’t figure out how to alternate them enough between paragraphs, so I’m going to leave them where they are to help the flow. Thanks for taking a look for me! I just stumbled across your blog, and am loving it! I am learning so much!

  • Nessa Jay says:

    Hi there! Love this monthly feature. Today I was wondering; Is my blog too wide? My blog is

    Thank you!

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Nessa!
      So on a desktop, no it’s definitely not too wide, it’s a pretty average width. Was there a specific reason you were concerned about the width?


      • Nessa Jay says:

        HI Marianne! Thank you so much for your answer!

        I actually asked because I keep getting a horizontal scroll bar on my computer no matter what width I set my blog to and it’s making me a bit paranoid. I LOATHE pages with horizontal scroll bars and I’d hate it if someone had to deal with that when visiting my blog.

        • Marianne says:

          Ah yes you’re right! I should have checked on smaller monitor.
          I took a cursory look at your content width and it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary: about 1000px, but now that i look at the code, it’s actually 1100px with wide side padding making the content appear smaller.

          If you aren’t comfortable messing with the CSS/HTML to fix it, you might consider looking for a new responsive template. Last I checked, there were plenty of free ones if you aren’t able to buy one.

          For more about responsive, see:

  • Hi Marianne! Thanks so much for taking the time to do this feature. I’m looking to tweak my site design a bit and would love your general feedback as a place to start. Thanks again! xo–Kaitlyn

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Kaitlyn!
      One thing I noticed is that the backgrounds for your sidebar widgets are not wide enough to accommodate the content. Also, you might try dressing up your top navigation bar: either adding a background or using a cute + colorful font?

      Other than that, it’s very simple and pleasing so far. My advice would be to start a Pinterest board and start collecting blogs/templates you love in it and seeing if there’s a pattern to what you like.

      Hope that helps!

  • Jess says:

    Hi Marianne! What a lovely feature. I would be very grateful to any feedback and tips on how to improve my blog design. Thank you very much! x

  • Hannah K. says:

    Hi Marianne! My sisters and I run a beauty and fashion blog and would love any feedback.

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Hannah, cute blog! One thing I’d say is try to use images that are as wide as your content. If that’s not possible, you might center them instead of left aligning them.

  • Sarah says:

    Hi Marianne!

    You say in your ebook that you should stick to only three colors. I have intentionally chosen not to do that on my blog/site … instead I’ve gone for a range of pastels and bolder colors in the same color families. I really like the effect and think it demonstrates my range because I’m a designer. Your thoughts?

    As a side note, I sent in a pitch for a guest post and am not sure if you’ve received it. If not, I’m happy to resend, just let me know! Thanks so much.


    • Marianne says:

      Hi Sarah!
      I’m so sorry, I haven’t received your pitch! Did you submit it through the form on the guest post page? I’m bummed that it didn’t work if so ๐Ÿ™ Would you mind trying again? or you can send it directly to marianne (at) designyourownblog (dot) com

      In regards to color: you are an artist so you know the rules and are able to break them correctly ๐Ÿ™‚ You also need to show off your art! I think it’s just fine. But if you look at the rest of your blog (like the elements without the illustrations), you’ve got a pretty subdued color palette: gray, white and pink, which is great because it helps your illustrations stand out.

      There definitely isn’t too much going on and there certainly are blogs that use more than 3 colors well. But for those starting out with color palettes, sticking to 2 or 3 is always a safe bet!

      • Sarah says:

        THANK YOU! It’s nice to have your take on it … your blog is so so pretty! I will resubmit my idea through the form so you can see if it’s working, but also email it to you! Cheers.

        • Marianne says:

          Thank you Sarah, that’s a great compliment from an artist like yourself!

          And I got it! I’ll take a look and get back to you in a few days!

  • Angie says:

    Wow! This is a great idea. I know a lot of bloggers that could benefit from having a second pair of eyes look at the layout and design of their sites.

    Keep up the great work!

  • Mari says:

    Hi Marianne!
    You’ve the same name as I :).
    But what I’m curious about is my blog design. Is it reader friendly? What would you change to make it more interesting?
    Actually my blog is in Polish but I think it doesn’t matter.
    Also write what do you think about Disqus comments?

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Mari! Wonderful name yes? ๐Ÿ™‚

      I think your blog is reader friendly, yes. It’s easy to read. I’m not sure I am crazy about the colors, but that’s only because I tend to like more feminine colors. Do the colors seem to match your target market? Also, I think it could use a little more personalization to help it stand out.

      In regards to Disqus, I have mixed feelings about it. If I am using Firefox, I cannot get logged in for some reason so I have to switch browsers to leave a comment. Sometimes I just don’t bother. I don’t know why this is or if others have the same problem, but it makes it difficult for people to leave comments i’ve heard.

      Also sometimes I prefer to remain a little more anonymous when I leave comments. It depends on the blog or topic.

  • Gina Marie says:

    I’m about ready to go public with my blog, I’ve been keeping a low profile while I learn the ropes so to say. Could you peak at my site and see if I’m missing anything. My side bar seems kind of bare. Are there any wp widgets I might be missing. I want to get it all polished up because I’m heading to Bloggy Boot Camp in Atlanta soon so I can learn how to get some adds on it. Oh and I’m going to jazz up my about me page with pictures soon.
    Thanks Marianne!

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Gina, I noticed you were redesigning the other day and overall i think it looks great! Sidebar looks fine, you don’t want it too cluttered. Just two things:

      1) can you move your bio/pic to the right on the home page? it’s slightly jarring to have it jump from left to right when clicking over to your blog page.

      2) Add something by your newsletter opt-in that tells people why they should sign up. Either offer a free download as an incentive or give an explanation of what they’ll get and they don’t want to miss out.

  • Nykeya says:

    hello. I am starting a new blog to document my life as a newly engaged CPA. I have no content as I just starting designing the blog this week. Would you mind taking a look at it and let me know if the overall design seems appealing so far? There is a lot more that I would like to do to it before launch and my first post so any advice would be appreciated as well. Thanks Marianne!

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Nykeya!

      I think it’s a good start! It’s cute and colorful. I’d like to see a larger photo of you in the sidebar – preferably a close up with a big smile! And then a bio near it that tells people exactly what they should expect from reading your blog and what they’ll get out of it.

      I look forward to seeing it evolve!

  • This is so generous of you. Quick feedback would be much appreciated!!!

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Joanne!

      I like the cute background. What’s missing though is something to explain what the blog is about. I’d love to see your photo with a bio at the top of the sidebar that tells me why I should stick around.

      And adding a tagline under your header would also help with that a lot.

      Thanks for participating!

  • Kylie says:

    Hi Marianne!

    I would love some feedback on my blog design. I’ve not long finished it and have (mostly) got it looking how I want it too.

    Any feedback is appreciated! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Kylie!
      Not sure if you saw my reply to your comment on the Pin it button tutorial, but I LOVED how your button came out, it’s seriously one of the cutest I’ve seen!

      Like I’ve been telling almost everyone, I’d really like to see a photo of you with a quick bio that tells me why I should read your blog. What’s different about it? What types of books do you review? Anything that helps a new visitor understand quickly what the blog is going to do for them.

      Also, I’d like to see a solid background behind the posts column. Currently there is no differentiation between the 3 columns which makes things look a little too busy. A light colored solid background would also make it easier to read.

  • Corinna says:

    Hi Marianne,

    I just stumbled upon your blog and this feature is so generous of you! I definitely need to brand my blog but I’m waiting to hit some financial goals before I do so. What I haven’t been able to do successfully is create a badge that could effectively act as my brand. I made a badge with a vector image which I’ve displayed on my FB fan page, but do you have any advice on creating something of my own? I might just need to wait and do everything at once while I just make do with what I have for the time being. Any feedback you provide is so greatly appreciated!

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Corinna!
      First of all, great theme choice for the blog, it’s definitely wedding-y!
      If you’re on a budget, you came to the right place ๐Ÿ˜‰ but seriously, what about purchasing a logo template to use until you’re able to get a professional one done? Try one of these: (that’s a ref link btw but I LOVE luvly marketplace!) They have a pretty good selection of super adorable logos that you can customize with your own brand name and they’re cheap too!

      Another good place to look is Etsy. Who knows, you may even find something on one of those sites that you end up keeping for good!

      One other thing that’s missing: out of all the wedding blogs out there, what makes your different and why should I stick around? Identify that and make that message prominent on your blog via the tagline and sidebar bio.

      • Corinna says:

        Thanks so much for your recommendations! I hadn’t thought to search for logo designs and I did take a look at the link you provided. I’m going to keep looking for something that really stands out and hopefully I find something that works perfectly. I appreciate your help and now I feel I have some direction. Wishing you much success with your business!

  • prabhat ks says:

    I am curious about my blog design and theme. I am using free wordpress blog with the free theme. I just wish if you could advice me from your end what you think on my blog. I have started it recently and mainly my blog is about sharing personal thoughts.
    Thank you.

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Prabhat!

      I think it’s a good start! I will admit, I am not a fan of the thick borders around the posts. I think it would look cleaner without them or by changing them to a thin 1px thick border.

      The only other thing I’d say is the top navigation bar (the dark brown) is a little jarring because it’s so dark. It doesn’t really blend with the rest of the page. Perhaps using that same light beige currently being used on the borders?

      • prabhat ks says:

        Thank you so much for taking the time to visit and check and all that advise you provided. Really glad to hear from your end. I will put those out soon in the blog. And I have got one more problem today. The settings of discussion column is set like everyone can comment just like I am doing it here providing my email and name. But few of them are unable to post. I don’t know why? Someone was trying to comment on my post but it says you need to log in. But while writing the contents it shows you are posting using your wordpress account. And when the comment is posted finally it then redirects to login saying you need to log in. What might be the problem. I am really irritated sometime with this posting things.

        • Marianne says:

          Hmmm I’m really not sure why that would be happening. You might want to search the WordPress forums and see if there is a thread about this already. If not, you could always start one.

  • Erica says:

    Hi Marianne, I would love some feedback on my blog’s design, especially the header. Thank you!!

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Erica,
      The feedback only runs on the first Friday, but since I forgot to turn off comments, I’ll go ahead and give you one quick thought: it’s too tall. Perhaps moving your social icons to the navigation bar (right aligned) or the top of your sidebar will allow the navigation and content to move up closer to the logo.

Comments are closed.