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Dear Marianne // 10 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!

“What is my design missing?”

“Should I try _____?”


It’s Q+A Day on DYOB, the day where you can ask me anything your heart desires about your blog’s design! My favorite post of the month and today is the 10th Dear Marianne, wow!

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:
  • If you have further comments or questions about my reply and comments are closed, please feel free to Tweet me or talk to me on Facebook.

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Ok now over to you!

Leave a comment below with your URL in the URL field so I can go check out your blog. (If you leave your URL in the comment area, it might be flagged as spam).

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  • Hello from Greece!
    I have 2 questions to ask!
    First of all, I love-love-love your popular posts widget! How can I make mine, adjusting the code with the colors of my blog?
    Secondly, I don’t like at all my home (landing) page! I have tried to change it using several tutorials and I didn’t make it! Instead, I made several mistakes to the HTML code and now I can’t fix it. I can’t even reload my previous template because it says it has an error! Could it be possible to give us a step by step tutorial of how to make an attractive home-landing page?

    Thank u for your time!

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Momma!
      About the popular posts widget, what I did was use the Inspect Element feature that’s built into the browser to find out what class names were added to the elements. I then added those styles into my custom style sheet and added my own style definitions to them. You can learn more about how to do that in these articles: and

      As far as your home page, I don’t see anything wrong with yours at the moment so it’s difficult to know exactly what you need to fix on it. I am not sure I would be able to make a tutorial on a home page only because it’s so different from theme to theme and platform to platform. It might be best to search for tutorials on this or websites that are specific to your actual theme. Sorry I’m not more help in that aspect!

  • kaushik says:

    Hello Marianne,
    Didnt want to ask anything but just wanted to say that your blog’s design and colors are awesome.
    Specially the creativity that you have with all the images in the post.
    I love it !

  • Lisa says:

    Hi Marianne,

    First, thank you so much for your creativity and generosity!

    I’m a bit embarrassed to be posting my wordpress site on here, but… I gotsa, cuz I need help!

    The blog was made to accompany an online storefront I’m launching in late April/early May. It’s for feminine, beautiful accessories of all kinds with an emphasis on easy, relaxed living (jewelry, notebooks, entertaining, etc.) I wanted to drive traffic to the site through the blog.

    I’ve never had a blog before so go easy on me! Much love.


    • Marianne says:

      Hi Lisa, so glad you’ve come and asked for help, that’s the hardest part (as you know)!

      So I would recommend a new theme. The one you have doesn’t work well on smaller screens as your logo gets cut off the side. Also, the menu that drops down when you click the arrow takes up the entire screen and I was confused on how to get out of it until I realized it had just pushed the page down and I had to scroll down to close it.

      I think that once you find a better built theme (not all themes are made well), that will give you a jump start on a better design. Then come back next month and show me!

  • Haley says:

    Is there a way to change my URL without losing all of the traffic to my current site?

    • Kaushik says:

      Yes, Its Called 301 redirecting !
      It is SEO friendly technique !

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Haley,

      Just like Kaushik suggested, you will need to do a 301 redirect from your old domain to your new domain. Will you stay on Blogger with a new URL or will you be switching to another platform like WordPress or Squarespace?

  • Hello Marianne :) thank you for this opportunity to ask questions :)
    I launched my new design for in january and still have a laundry list of things I want to do- but I would like to hear your general feedback for the site. Where do you think it is lacking? Where do you think i got it right- etc :)

    thank you again!!!

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Jenn, I think it looks really great! I think the only thing that’s really missing is more of an explanation as to why and/or how your site is different from others like it. Give newcomers a reason to stay and explore and also the benefits to why they should subscribe. Other than that nice job!

  • Nicki says:

    I have more of an SEO question than a design question. :) I want to know if you don’t plan to make money off your blog (call me crazy) but you do just want to increase visibility, is it worth getting a self hosted site instead of using WP or Blogger? Are the SEO benefits on the backend with plugins worth it, in your option Marianne? Also…what do you think of my blog? I did some upgrades after reading your book? Which is AWESOME by the way!

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Nicki! First let’s ask the question: why do you want more traffic/visibility to your blog? Is it to connect with other bloggers? If that’s what you want to do, I’d focus on social media. I’m not an SEO expert, but from what I understand, platform doesn’t have a WHOLE LOT to do with SEO. Many Blogger blogs get good traffic mainly because they are on a Google platform. So I wouldn’t worry so much about the platform, especially if you don’t plan to monetize it because then you’re paying for hosting and not making that money back.

      In terms of the blog’s design, I think you’ve done a very nice job with it. The colors + textures are very peaceful and pleasant, I really can’t say too much else about it. :)

  • Taylor says:

    We would love general feedback on our blog!

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Taylor, I think overall the design is very nice! The only thing I’m not crazy about (and this is personal preference) are the borders/drop shadows around the posts on the blog page. I think the design would look much cleaner, simpler and more open without them. Hope that helps!

  • Rhonda says:

    Hi there.. thanks for the opportunity to get your general thoughts. Please check out our site and We have blogging for a couple of years and slowly increasing views, etc but am looking to increase traffic. I know we need to put a lot more time and energy into social networking, etc and don’t mind having a couple of ads on our blog but don’t want it to just be about that. Any first impression you have to really catch peoples eye? We are thinking of changing up the theme for the newly popular rolling themes. What do you think?

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Rhonda, I really like the one-page or parallax designs so I think that would be a great option for you, especially if you wanted to put more of a focus on the benefits of your site on the home page as opposed to the list of posts. If you go that route, use a lot of bright and colorful images like you already do in your posts because that’s the main attraction of a travel blog.

      I think another thing that would be helpful would be to really highlight the benefits and advantages of your blog vs other travel blogs. Really explore the question “why should someone read our blog over others like it?” and then explore ways to make it better or different.

      Good luck and definitely come back and let me know when you’ve switched themes!

  • Hi Marianne!
    I’ve recently changed up my site with a new theme and am trying to get everything streamlined and cohesive. I would appreciate any general feedback you have. I am thinking my header is too busy but am not sure what would be the best design for it. I include a lot of photos in my posts and think maybe it takes away?
    Thank you so much for offering this feature! I love your blog and have found it so helpful in making changes to my site.

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Ginger, first of all, thanks so much for the kind words. I’m really glad it’s been helpful for you! Second, I think your blog looks really nice!

      I actually like your header image as I feel it complements your photos and doesn’t take away from them. However, I can also see a very nice clean design if you just had a centered logo on white and no background image. Perhaps play with that and see what you like best.

      If you did decide to keep the current header image, I would move your site name/logo to the left for a more balanced look with the sidebar. I would also take away the left and right padding for the header so the image is the same width as the content area.

      .site-padding, .site-header, .site-content, .footer-widget-area, .site-info {
      padding-left: 0;
      padding-right: 0;

  • Clara says:

    Hello there
    I been trying to create a blog but I will love to do my own design, can I get some help on that, like what kind of programs or how do I start?
    Thank you

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Clara, start by getting a free blog at because that’s the simplest way to start and why pay money when you’re trying something out for the first time? You can then look for a template that suits you (either free or paid). I would start there. Then if you want to customize the look of your template, I would recommend buying my book as it will walk you through all the different elements of a blog’s design with tutorials and examples.

      Hope that helps!

  • Brooke says:

    I would love to have you take a look at my site. I have done it all myself so I am not too attached to anything and open to whatever you suggest! Please and thank you!

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Brooke! You’ve done a nice job so far so good on you! The only thing I see missing that I think is incredibly important is your photo and a short description of why people should read your blog. This should be near the top of your sidebar as it help newcomers understand what your blog is about and what the benefit is to them to stay and read more.

  • Hi Marianne!

    I love keeping up with your blog. It’s helped me do some awesome tweaking :) My question is – how can I make my menu bar more noticeable? The white text on the blue background isn’t bold enough to attract attention, I think. And it doesn’t help that the sign up button for my newsletter blends right into the menu bar. Any feedback you have on that particular question or my site in general would be so deeply appreciated. Thank you for all you do!

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Emily, good to see you here again! :) So I don’t it’s necessary for the nav bar to stand out more than it does, personally, but if you don’t like it, you could try changing the background to the purple in your logo instead. That would definitely make it darker. Or try a darker blue. Plug in the blue you’re using into and find a darker shade.

      Also, you may want to add a 5px top margin to your navbar to separate it from the form button:

      .nav-primary, .nav-secondary {
      margin-top: 5px;

      Have a great day!

  • Ashlynn says:

    I was wondering if you would give me feedback on my website’s design! Thank you!

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Ashlynn, I think the site looks nice overall, but I am not quite sure what to do once there. The images on the home page don’t link anywhere and there is no explanation of what they are there for. Could you add a paragraph of text below the “Hello there” that explains what your blog is about and what people should do once they are there?

  • Nicole says:

    Hi Marianne,

    First I want to thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and expertise with each of us, personally. What a treat!

    Other than any feedback you might have for the general design of my blog, I do have a couple of specific questions. (I’ve done all the work on this blog myself other than using a template for a jumping off point, so I can use all the help I can get :) )

    1) As a visitor to my site, do you feel that the blog design matches the title well, or do you notice something inconsistent or “off”? If so, what could I do to improve that?

    2) I feel myhomepage needs work… Any suggestions?

    Thanks! And hope you have a great weekend!

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Nicole, I think you;ve done a really good job of customizing your blog so far! I do think the design matches your topic, especially the colors. I only have 2 things to suggest:

      1. for now, switch your opt-in and bio in the sidebar. People will want to know what the site is about first before they give their email. Edit your bio to be more about how your blog will benefit the readers. Tell them why they should stick around, what’s different or better about your blog and why they should subscribe.

      2. In the footer, move the archives below Topics. It would look more balanced. Then if you want, you can add something else below your social links like another sign up form or something else you’d like.

      Hope that helps and sorry for the delayed response!

Comments are closed.