I think I discovered Allyssa Barnes Web Design about a year ago when it was still called Barn Blog.
She always shares some great design tips and inspiration that I decided to follow her on Twitter.
In the last few months, we’ve become more acquainted on Twitter and she always has something beautiful or useful to share.
This post is the second of the Meet the Blog Designer series. If you’d like to see other interviews in this series, just click that link. 😉
Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you get started in web/blog design? How long have you been doing it for?
I first became interested in web design back in high school. LiveJournal was popular at the time and I was bored with the templates they provided so I set out to learn how to create one of my own. That interest led me to study computer science and interactive multimedia in college. So all in all. I’ve been designing sites in one form or another for over 10 years!
Do you have your own business or do you freelance on the side while working full time?
I design websites full time! I started my business a little over a year ago after quitting a job I was unhappy with. It was a huge leap, but I’m making it work!
What blogging platforms do you prefer to work with?
I only work with self hosted WordPress, that’s how much I love it! It’s such a great platform and you can do so much with it. It may seem a bit overwhelming at first, but it’s incredibly user friendly once you get the basics down.
What type of clients do you look for? Do you specialize in a certain market? Any particular reason why?
I look for clients who are excited about having a web presence and are willing to have an open mind when it comes to designing their site. The small business owners and bloggers who I work with are serious about what they do and are willing to invest in a design that will take their site to the next level. They also have a decent idea of what they’re looking for and aren’t coming into the design process blind.
You recently redesigned your own blog. Would you mind sharing with us your process: How you came upon the final decision for your design, what factors you took into consideration, etc?
I knew I wanted to create a strong brand, so I set out to create a color and font palette that would make my brand recognizable. From there, I kept things basic and focused on usability in terms of site layout. I wanted my site to be easy to read and easily navigable.
My homepage was the last piece of the puzzle. I struggled with whether or not my blog should be on the homepage, but in the end I decided to use it to sell my services. The design process is never done though — I’m always tweaking things to make things work better.
Great choice, I looove your homepage! – Marianne
Your Thoughts on Design and Redesigns
What is your favorite part about redesigning a blog or website?
My favorite part is seeing everything come together in the end. At times, designing a site is like a puzzle, so I love the sense of satisfaction I get when it pulls itself together and my hard work pays off.
What do you feel is the most important thing to keep in mind when redesigning a blog?
Less is more and white space is your friend. You may want to go crazy, but the focus should be on your content. Your design just frames it.
What is your method for selecting a color palette?
My first stop is usually Design Seeds or Pinterest for inspiration. From there I’ll pick a color (or colors) that match the mood I’m hoping to convey. Usually then I’ll end up opening up Adobe Illustrator* and playing with different color combos until I get one that feels right. It’s a lot of trial and error!
What is your method for selecting a font palette?
Selecting a font palette is usually a lot easier than choosing a color palette. I usually focus on one font for the accents. Then I’ll select a body font that coordinates. I also utilize different font styles and weights for a little variation.
What advice do you have for a blogger who wants to do a few small touches to their blog’s design to spruce it up?
Sometimes a few small changes can make a big difference! Focus on cleaning up your colors and fonts (less is more!) and space things out. Remove your background image and/or clean up your sidebar to give an airier feeling.
What are your favorite trends in blog design at the moment?
I love the minimal design trend and the focus on typography. Well placed and designed text always draws me in!
What blog design trends do you wish would go away?
Pop ups! It seems like they’re everywhere nowadays. Between asking me to sign up for your newsletter, to telling me to like your Facebook page, to having me follow you on Pinterest, it gets to be too much. Supposedly they work though, so I can’t argue with that, but boy are they annoying!
What is your biggest pet peeve about the design of some blogs?
When sites don’t have easily accessible menus. If I can’t find your menu in 2 seconds, you have a problem.
Also, a home link in your menu is soooo important! Even if your header/logo links to your homepage, a home link in your menu is still beneficial. You don’t know how many times I’ll click off a site after reading an interesting post, just because there is no home link anywhere. Your readers are lazy. Make it easy for them!
Is there anything you feel people spend too much time on (in terms of design) that is really not that important?
I think the actual design of the site isn’t as important as people think. As long as you have a site with plenty of white space and you limit your font/color choices, you’ll be good.
Wrappin’ It Up
Do you have anything else you’d like to tell us about design?
Good design doesn’t have to be complicated. Sometimes people get hung up on flashy graphics and cool features, but that’s not necessary for good design. Focus on picking out 1-2 fonts and colors. Clear the clutter. White space is your friend. Do that and I promise you you’ll have a decent design with little effort.
Also, design isn’t just about making something pleasing to the eye. It’s about human interaction and ease of use. Design first for usability. If no one can navigate your site easily, then your design is a failure, no matter how pretty it may be.
Do you have anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself?
I love “meeting” people online, so stop by my blog or say hello on Twitter (I may or may not be addicted…)
Awesome Allyssa, thank you so much for joining us here on DYOB today!
Folks be sure to check out Allyssa’s beautiful new website redesign, it’s gorgeous, really!
Join in the Convo!
Got questions or comments for Allyssa? The comment section below is the perfect place to share!
And as always, please share this with your network if you found it useful.
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Thanks for featuring me Marianne!
I’m so happy to Allyssa! I’ve admired your work for a long time!
Hi Marianne and Allyssa,
This post is loaded with designing tips that could benefit bloggers like me 🙂
Thanks a lot!
Hi Dima, good to “see” you again! I’m really glad to hear this was so useful! Be sure to check out the other designer interviews in the series too for more great advice!
Happy to “see” you again, Marianne, at least virtually 🙂
Sure will check them all soon !
Awesome advice from Allyssa! Love her style! 😀
Hi Erin, me too! Thanks for coming by 🙂
Awesome post, Marianne! Love Alyssa’s blog — her tips are always useful and well-designed (SUPER pin-able!) — and it’s always cool to get insight into a pro’s process and inspiration. 🙂
Hi Sandee! You’re so right, Allyssa’s posts ARE very pin-able! Glad you enjoyed it.
This interview was just what I needed. I just launched my new design business – and everything Alyssa said was spot on! Thank you so much!
Hi Ginny! I just saw that, how wonderful! Congrats and good luck 🙂 I think your blog is beautiful!
Love this post!
Keep up the great work 🙂
Hi Aina, thanks for stopping by! Very cute blog btw 🙂
I am new blogger. I want to design my blog. How can I do it? It is my personal Blog.
Hi Riad, I recommend you start by downloading my free ebook by subscribing (see top of the sidebar). Then go through some of the posts and tutorials here on DYOB. Then stay tuned for my next book coming out later this summer.
I like the way you think. Simple is so underrated today. I have a hard time explaining I want a simple design. Each time my designers come back with something fancy and they tell me what I want is boring. Particularly, I hate when they suggest 10 different colors. Those gives me headaches. Two or three must be the maximum color theme I like.
I agree, simple is best and sticking to a minimal color scheme is important for several reasons: to allow your images to stand out, keep the pages from looking cluttered and also allow the important elements to stand out.
Hmm Jen, your designers sound like they may be stuck in some outdated design patterns. Perhaps it’s time to look for someone new?
I COMPLETELY AGREE with the part where you said that LiveJournal has BORING templates. 🙂
funny i never even looked at LiveJournal before but you’re right, they are pretty lame! 😉
I don’t have a home link, so I need to add that in! Thanks for that tip.
I’m always looking for more design tips so this was so helpful. It was great to get advice from an expert and has made me consider a few changes for my blog.
Good point on accessibility. Customers and web site visitors expect quality, streamlined and functional websites. It’s the norm.
Great thoughts, blogs are a great way to build trust with the audience, I will link my blogs to the homepage too.
Web design skill are indeed important these days! So tough to get. But try hard and finally one will get results. i believe that Design plays the most important role today in attracting potential buyers and it’s the only thing which could give you a better ROI if done properly
thanks for sharing the great information here. now I can apply these techniques to my own website.