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Dear Marianne // 08

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!

“What do you think my blog is missing?”

“What should I add to my footer?”

“Is my sidebar too cluttered?”

I know you’ve got questions about your blog’s design, you DIY-er you! Whether you’ve got a specific question or you just want some honest feedback, this monthly column is for YOU!


Here are the “rules” 😉

  • 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.
  • 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. 😉 Or mark it in your calendar.
  • Share this with friends! The more that participate with questions, the more we learn from each other! Here’s an easy Tweetable below:

The eBook That’s Really a Course!

Blog-Beautiful-50-tips-make-blog-glow-smMy newest eBook, Blog Beautiful: 50 Tips + Tricks to Make Your Blog Glow is now available for instant download!

The price will be going up next month so if you haven’t jumped on it yet, now’s the time to do it!

Ok Gals, It’s Your Turn!

Leave a comment below with your URL in the URL field.

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  • Dawn says:

    Hello Marianne
    I haven’t been doing this for too long (still need to keep learning ) and I wanted to ask how I could get more of a visual impact for my blog? I suppose I’m asking does it look too cluttered? Many thanks Dawn

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Dawn, I’m so glad you found me then! So I like the premise of your blog (i have terrible posture myself!) I don’t think the site is cluttered at all, but I do feel it’s missing you. I don’t see anything about you in the site, why you do this, what are your qualifications, story, etc. I think that goes a long way to show your credibility in a subject like yours.

      Another thing you might consider is using an accent color sparingly. A complimentary color would work well, or even a blue-green. Take a look at my color posts for more help/info!

  • Deborah says:

    Hi Marianne. If I want to put text in a widget (other than a title) then a picture underneath the text how do I format the font size? I can get the text to show but I can’t increase the font size. Is that because it’s picking up from the style sheet

    • Marianne says:

      Hey Deborah, I took a look at your sidebar and I’m assuming its the lovely text about my book 😉 I looked at your code and you’re missing the colon ( : ) after “font-size.” That should fix your problem.

      Thanks for the kind words! 🙂 Btw, I love your subscribe image, super cute!!

  • Christina says:

    Hi Marianne,
    I’ve only been blogging for 6 months, but my Blog in embedded in my website ( It’s Joomla based and I was wondering if you knew anyone else who blogs in Joomla? Having a hard time getting it to do what I want, so would love to talk to others who are in the same boat! Many thanks, Christina x

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Christina, I wish I knew who was using Joomla but I really don’t off-hand. Perhaps a search for #joomla on Twitter could turn up some people who use it. Or I bet you can even find a group on Facebook for Joomla users.

      Do you think it would be too much work/money to transfer to a WP site?

  • Claire says:

    Hi Marianne

    I’m trying out a new layout on a burner blog, and can’t seem to change the width of images in the blog posts!

    I’m using this css, which has worked for me before:

    .post-body img {

    and the only other place “.post-body img” appears in the html is setting the width for the mobile view.

    When I load a page, I can see the the size of the content area flickering back and forth, and eventually settles on taking up the whole width of the blog, covering up the side bar.

    It doesn’t do this for posts without images, then it looks normal. What sort of code would over ride my css?

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Claire! The reason it’s not working is that your new template doesn’t have a div called “post-body”. Try putting your image styles in this instead:

      .entry-content img { }

  • Deborah says:

    Also, if I’ve completely re-designed my site can I remove the copyright information from the person who fixed the site up for me and replace it with my own details.

    • Marianne says:

      Yes definitely Deborah!

      • Deborah says:

        I can’t find where it is in the stylesheet. I went to the parent theme but couldn’t find it there either.

        • Marianne says:

          The copyright won’t be in the style sheet, that’s just where you define styles and design for your site.

          You’ll probably have to find it in the footer.php file. Go to Appearance > Editor. Look in the right sidebar, make sure you have the correct them chosen, then find footer.php.

          But make sure you BACKUP the file before changing it in case you mess something up.

  • Hi there,
    I am really trying to work on making my site more user friendly, focusing on the college and travel post since that is my blogs focus. Anyways I was wondering if making a ‘gallery like’ page with these post would be a better way to display post vs the just have all of them shown when on a category.
    Or if you have any other ideas as a useful way to show post in a more organized way that would be great!

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Caitlyn, I’m not sure I fully understand your question. Do you have a specific page on your blog you’re asking about? What would your gallery show, just photos or are you wanting to show a layout that shows a featured image for each post in a tiled or Pinterest-style layout?

      If you don’t see my question before i turn off comments tonight, feel free to clarify in a post on the FB group or send me a Tweet: @marianney.

  • Jenny says:

    Happy Friday, Marianne!
    So, I am kind of new to blogging (1-2 posts per month). Wondering what suggestions you have for me … as my blog was basically set up by my web designer. What do you think my blog is missing? What do I need to add to my footer? Anything else? Would love any honest feedback! Thanks for sharing your brilliance 🙂
    Thank you so much ~ Jenny

    • Marianne says:

      Happy Friday to you too Jenny, thanks!
      So your footer seems like it’s off a bit. The links aren’t aligned because the subnav below coaching seems to have something wrong with it. If you can’t get your designer to fix it, you might want to remove the submenu items and that should fix things up there.

      I don’t know if you’ve gotten my book or not, but a few of the steps deal with the footer, how to make 3-4 column footers with suggestions on what to add in them, such as an opt-in form, perhaps an archive widget, etc.

      I also think that using some dividers between your sidebar items would help organize it a bit. These posts can help: and, as well as my book of course 😉

      I hope that helps point you in the right direction!

  • Marylou says:

    I’m working through your super great book, and later today is Mail Chimp Opt-In. I don’t have an incentive freebie yet but working on that. However, I think it important to get the Opt-In done. I’ve been working as time allows in the redesign. My question is how to tighten up the space in the sidebar. I want to add the Opt-In form near the top, but trying to eliminate the extra space between all the widgets? I’m using Genesis/Lifestyle Pro theme. After this it’s to the footer. And, what do you think about the over-all look and feel? It’s still in infant stage but always in work…
    Thank you so much for your super eBook, your Group on FB and all you do for us! I would not be this far without you. Happy Friday!

    • Marianne says:

      Wow Marylou, I love the changes, it’s looking good! And I’m so glad you’re working through the book, can’t wait to see more changes 🙂

      I agree that you could tighten up the sidebar elements. You could change your widget padding from 32px to 5px and 15px (top/bottom and left/right) and still look good:

      .sidebar .widget {padding: 5px 15px;}

      You could also decrease the bottom margin from 17px to 5px like so….

      .sidebar-primary .widget:not(.woocommerce) {
      margin-bottom: 5px;
      margin-top: 0;

      Happy Friday to you too!

  • Leapinmoon says:

    Hi Marianne,
    Thank you for this forum.
    I would like to design my logo and features to install on my wordpress page. Windows 7 is liminted and wondering if I need to invest in photoshop or if there are other options that can give me a professional look for my page.
    I love the vector art and know if I want to use it I need a new computer. Considering whether a desk or laptop is the best value for added features.

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Deb! You shouldn’t need a new computer to create some graphics. You could get Photoshop but if you’ve never used it before, the learning curve is a little steep. I recommend you just try out PicMonkey or Canva and see how that works for you before investing in an expensive program you may or may not use.

      As far as vector images go, again you need to know how to use programs like Illustrator or the free

      Hope this helps!

  • Toyin Alli says:

    Hi Marianne! I love that you do this! I was wondering…do you think I should create a custom header for my blog? Right now, it’s just text. I’m hesitant because I don’t want to mess up the simple/minimalist thing I have going on. Also, do you think my font is too small?

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Toyin! No i don’t think you need a header image. I like the minimal header you have and it’s well done (nice job!). Your colorful photos offset the need for a graphic header.

      And yes, your font is too small. I recommend at least 14px for maximum readability.

  • Laura says:

    Hello Marianne.

    I am trying to set up my blog and I am all stuck up! This is the third theme I buy because the other two I found somehow difficult to configurate (even with the help of programers).

    I am figuring out what colours to use as my brand…I can not decide because I see very beautiful combinations but are sort of “girly” for me. I don´t intend to make it serious but, how can I keep balance? I think I would like to start there.

    I would love to hear what you think.

    And congratulations for the group and your support. It´s a great experience sharing with so many nice bloggers out there!

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Laura! I’m sorry you’re having theme troubles! Did you buy from Theme Forest by chance? I have had problems with themes there and know others who have too.

      In terms of color, it might help to create a Pinterest board, where you gather images where the colors catch your eye. Also look at After at least a week or two, look at your board and step back. Do any color themes stick out at you?

      Also, have you read my color posts?

      Hope that helps get you started!

  • Estela says:

    Hello, I am in heaven with your website and blog! Thank you for helping us. I am looking for help on adding graphics to my subscribe title “join us in our obsession” on my sidebar. Maybe a little heart or something sweet like that. I cannot figure how to do this. Also , I am having trouble adding my logo right beside the site title “cvlinens” . The theme “chef” in WordPress wants to put it above and not beside. Please help. Any ideas, tutorials or links will help. I’m a beginner (;

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Estela,
      Hmm….. it’s a bit difficult to answer those questions without logging into your site and playing around with the theme. I don’t know how it’s built and where it would be inserting the image for your logo.

      As far as adding an image title to your Subscribe, create an image in PicMonkey that includes the text in it and then upload it to your media library, then click on the image to get the url for the image.

      In your subscribe text widget, remove the widget title and inside the bigger box, add this:

      < img src="IMAGE-URL-GOES-HERE" />

      (remove the space between the < and i ) I hope that answered your question and good luck! If you still have troubles, you might consider hiring a designer to do a few tweaks. It shouldn't take too long, therefore not cost too much money, depending on the designer. Good luck!

  • Tami says:

    Hi Marianne! I’d love to know how to universally change my fonts. I would like to change my header font and also my paragraph font and I have no idea how to do this. I’m on wp using Genesis. Would love even just general guidance! I’m okay at finding my way through fixes on most anything but in wp I have a hard time just knowing where to go in the first place. Thanks!!!

  • Brooke says:

    I am having a debate about how to display the content. I have categories listed with most recent posts, but some still get lost and don’t show up on the main page. How do you recommend sorting posts so you can see more, find what your looking for etc?

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Brooke! Unfortunately there is no one-size-fits-all answer to your question. It depends on how many categories you have, what types, are they related, who your audience is and what would they be looking for.

      Most people just have their posts (on the blog page) organized by date and then show a categories menu either in the header or sidebar (or both). As for me, i am leaning towards showing the latest in certain categories on my home page, only because i think people come to my site searching for different things.

      Good luck with whichever you decide to go with!

Comments are closed.