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Dear Marianne // 13 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 am I doing wrong?”

“Do you think this font is…?”

“I need help!”

Looking for blog design advice or feedback?

Can you believe that A YEAR AGO this week I started the first Dear Marianne blog design advice column?! Today is my monthly version of Open Office Hours! I love this First Friday post because it’s so fun to see your questions and learn what you’re struggling with. So ask me whatever your heart desires below today (as long as it’s about blog design or blogging)!

Here are the “rules” πŸ˜‰

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • If you’d like to respond to my reply after comments are closed, please Tweet me or talk to me on Facebook.
  • Share this with friends! The more that participate with questions, the more we learn from each other! Here’s an easy Tweetable below:

Wanna Know How You Can Improve Your Blog Design On Your Own?

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It’s Your Turn!

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 could get flagged as spam).

Here’s a tip: Consider selecting “Replies to my comments” below the comment box so you’ll know when I’ve answered your question.

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Don’t want to wait for an answer? Come join us at the DYOB: Blog Beautiful Facebook Community where you can get advice from me and the community any day of the month! Find out how to join here!

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  • Elena says:

    Hi Marianne! I recently change the colors, layout and logo on my blog. I would be very grateful for any feedbacks. Thank you! πŸ™‚

    • Marianne says:

      Oh wow Elena, I absolutely LOVE it! The colors and the logo are just beautiful! Just being nitpicky here, but I would change the line-height on the sidebar widget titles like this:

      .foodie-pro .widgettitle { line-height: 1; }

      and also add a little space above your submit button in your opt-in box:

      .enews-widget input[type=”submit”] { margin-top: 15px; }

      Other than that, I wouldn’t change a thing, great job!

      • Elena says:

        Marianne, thank you so much! I am glad you like it πŸ™‚
        Also, thank you for the suggestions. My opt-in box looks perfect now! I was trying for a week to add that space above the submit button, but couldn’t find an answer.
        It’s so generous of you to share your knowledge with us!

  • Ntina says:

    Hi Marianne! I’ve recently changed my sidebar after reading your free e-book and I would appreciate your feedback. Also, what do you think about my “about” page? Thank you!

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Ntina,
      I like the top of your sidebar with the bio. The only thing I would do is make your sidebar 300px wide to accommodate the wider ads you have. Then center the rest of the items that are narrower than that. You might also want to add some sort of dividers to the items to help them stand apart from each other. This would help add some dimension like you did with your menu bar. πŸ™‚ Check out this post for some ideas:

      You’re doing a great job Ntina, little by little!

      • Ntina says:

        Very useful information, I will try to make them work. Thank you so much! I really appreciate it.

  • I love your post on the epic guide to starting a blog. Actually, I love everything I read of yours, including this advice column once a month, you’re very generous, so thank you for this! I’m trying to decide whether to launch into WP or stay with Blogger. I love the plug ins of WP (like β€œtweet this”) and the easy access there to share the post on social media. Everyone says if you’re really serious go to WP and I am really serious. It just seems cleaner and nicer, but I am SOOOOO not technically minded. It took me forever to learn the ways of blogger. It sounds like what you are saying if that is the case is to just stick with blogger.? I’m ready for a total rehaul of my site, so that’s happening if I stay. I know I need to. Thoughts?
    Also, I hate the colors on my site. I want pastels, like pink and pretty. I love your colors, and I love the main page of and would LOVE to have a similar design, or something like the cute stuff Surface Hug has, but it looks like neither of them have templates and that is what I need. I just don’t have time to start from the bottom up, but if I had a whimsical template after that kind of pattern I think I could do the installation. Who would you recommend for both blogger or IF I decide to go to WP?

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Ruthie, I just replied to your other comment on the blogging platforms so I won’t repeat myself here. But if you do decide to try out WP, there are so many really cute templates out there that you really wouldn’t have to edit much at all. Check out Restored316 (there’s a banner ad link on my home page towards the bottom), or Bluchic, Angie Makes (both in my sidebar) or Pretty Darn Cute Designs. They all have super cute templates that you really wouldn’t need to do much to at all to get the look you want.

      As for, did you mean You could also get a similar look to that type of site with a WP template. I think that Elegant Themes or WooThemes would have something similar.

      Hope that helps!

      • Thanks SO much, Marianne, you have been so thorough and helpful! I’ve been researching these sites all evening – super cute stuff! I’m getting closer! Working on a new name and then, on to!! πŸ™‚

  • Hi Marianne

    Happy Birthday for Dear Marianne! And thank you so much for creating an open Office House for such a long time and keep going helping others with the design! πŸ™‚

    I’m working on my new shop and would love to hear your meaning about it. It would be great if you could look it at a mobile devise and let me know if there looks something strange. I work just on a big desktop and have no mobile devise to check.

    Thank you and enjoy your long weekend.

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Skye, I like this theme so much better! You can always see the mobile view, by making your browser window narrower. Then you will see how the site behaves responsively.

      The only difference I noticed between doing that and viewing on my phone is that symbols that appear by your Welcome to our Shop text don’t show up. The hearts do, but not the swirls. Strange isn’t it?

  • Your blog has been a very big help for me! I’ve got tons of tips and resources from you and THANK YOU SO MUCH for that!

    I love that you’re doing this free blog design advice because I really need a general feedback for my blog. Like an expert critique for color schemes, fonts and the general appearance of my blog.

    Thanks so much, Marianne! Love your blog so much! <3

    • Marianne says:

      Thank you Inah, I really appreciate that! I really like the colors and the fonts you’re using so no issues there! The general appearance is great too! I think that the only thing I would change is perhaps lightening up the outline on the blog name letters. It creates a little too much contrast than is necessary and lightening up the gray a bit would soften it up and match better with your light colors.

      Hope that helps! Thanks for being a fan πŸ™‚

  • Hi Marianne! First of all, thank you for the Twitter card tutorial in the newsletter… it was super-duper helpful! πŸ™‚

    Also, I recently relaunched and redesigned my website. I’m going to ignore the design for awhile and just create epic, solid content, but I wanted to get your opinion on the overall feel and look of the site.

    Thank you!

    • Marianne says:

      Oh I like what you’ve done with it and the colors are great! The only thing I see missing is something about YOU. I think people would feel more comfortable taking your recommendations if they knew more about who the person is behind the recommendations. A nice photo and description of you, your interests, why you’re doing this would go a long way towards gaining people’s trust.

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the newsletter! I plan to share more stuff like that from now on πŸ™‚

      Oh and one other thing: in your office supply roundup, I think it would be great to see some pics of the items as well as a blurb about why you like each product. That would really make it epic! πŸ™‚

      • Thank you so much, Marianne! I was planning to update my About page sometime soon, but I had completely forgotten.

        Also, thank you for your suggestion about the pictures of the items: I want to do that, but I’m still on the look-out for a good camera. Do you have any recommendations I could try out?

        Ooh, goody-goody! I can’t wait for your next newsletter, then! πŸ™‚

  • Tiarra says:

    Hello Marianne,
    I have recently switched from free hosting to self hosting. The design of my blog is completely new and I was wondering if I could get some feed back. Just want to know your overall thoughts about my site.

    Is the design easily accessible? Any thing that I should add/delete?
    Does it convey a vibe of positivity and inspiration?

    Thanks a lot!

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Tiarra! Ok first of all, I LOVE your profile pic! It absolutely conveys positivity, you’re so adorable!

      I like the colors too. I think the only thing I would change is to have a more memorable logo. Check out as they have a bunch of super cute logo templates you can buy and make into your own.

      Other than that, really nice job!

  • Hi there! πŸ™‚
    Would love to know, if possible, how to create (on a Blogger blog) the jump links I’ve seen in your last blog post.

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Diana, sure that’s easy!
      They are officially called “anchor tags” so if you forget how to do them, you can Google it. But here’s how:

      You need to edit your post in HTML mode and then find the spot where you are jumping from. Add these tags around the text you want to turn into a link:

      <a href=”#part2″ rel=”nofollow”>Jump to Part Two</a>

      The text between the quotes must begin with a hashtag.

      Then at the point where you want it to jump to, you’d add another <a> tag just before it:

      <a name=”part2″ rel=”nofollow”></a>Part Two Starts Here

      Here you use the same text between the quotes but you remove the hashtag.
      Also note that the link uses <a HREF=

      and the jump point uses <a NAME=

      Don’t put the <a> and the closing </a> around any text or that will turn into a link that doesn’t actually go anywhere and may confuse visitors. That’s why you close the tag before the text that you’re jumping to.

      Hope that makes sense!

  • Kenzi says:

    Hi Marianne~

    I’m a newbie and was just curious what suggestions you would have for my blog design in general. Also, what do you think would be a good logo to go with the current theme of the site?

    Thanks so much!

  • Lory says:

    Hi Marianne,
    I’ve been fortunate to visit with you on Facebook this week about the items I’ve been working on on my blog. Would love feedback and what you think a good next step would be.
    Lory xo

    • Sooo Sorry for the double comment. I was using my phone at first and didn’t think it sent. I should have checked more carefully before re-posting. πŸ™‚

      • Marianne says:

        No worries Lory! I think it did go to moderation because of the link in the comment. So next steps….

        nothing really other than perhaps saving a higher quality image for the poppy photo in your sidebar because it’s a bit hard to read. Other than that, I really can’t say you’d need to change anything Lory, you’ve done a really great job!

        • Lory says:

          Thanks so much for the awesome book and resources! I will work on that image. πŸ™‚

          thanks again,
          Lory xo

  • In my quest to make my blog responsive, I somehow messed up the header. The image is only viewable in Firefox and I want the ad block to be on the same line and to the right of the header image.

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Katrina,

      Unfortunately I think you may have to switch to a new theme. The one you have is pretty old and was coded using tables which makes it very difficult to make it truly responsive and that’s probably why you are having issues with the header.

      But the good news is that there are tons of great free themes in the WP theme marketplace that have been recently coded and are already responsive!

      I know that may not be the answer you were looking for, but I think you’ll be better off in the long run with a more current theme. πŸ™‚

  • How does my sidebar look to you? Is it too cluttered? Or would you switch the order of anything I have there? Thanks for the opportunity to ask a question, and glean your insight!

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Kristen! I think the sidebar looks great and the order is fine. The only thing you’ll want to change is to override the sidebar width in your custom style sheet. It’s currently set to 280px but most of your content is 300px wide (which is the normal size).

      Add a style that looks like this:

      .sidebar { width: 300px; }

      and that should fix the alignment. Other than that, looks great!

  • Hi Marianne! First off, I just have to say I LOVE your blog and everything you post is so helpful and relevant. Your generous spirit is so inspiring so thank you for all you do!

    I have two questions, one very specific and one quite general: 1 – where can I put a tag line on my blog with my current header and how can I do that? I’m not great with code but I can follow instructions., and 2 – what if anything would you add/delete on my blog?

    (I’m on WP self hosted).

    Thanks soooooooo much!

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Doreen, you’re so welcome! I would say that the best place for your tagline to be is in the header, but it’s kind of busy to be able to add anything else to it right now. Are you able to create a new header that is a little more simple so you can accommodate the site name and tagline?

  • Claire says:

    HI Marianne, I recently updated my blog theme and I’m hoping to get back into the blogging game after a break. I’ve tried to keep my design clean, but I’m wondering if I can inject a little more color into it without going overboard. What do you think?

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Claire, welcome back! I think you’ve done a fine job with the new theme and I don’t think it needs too much more color just because you have big colorful images in your posts that should draw the attention.

      That said, how about adding some color or even a repeating pattern to the background of your footer? That could add a little bit more playfulness that doesn’t take away from the rest of the design.

Comments are closed.