Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Basic Blog Design for Dummies!

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time you probably noticed my new design!  I am really excited because I designed the blog all by myself.
Some of you out there are very good with techy blog things, but I am definitely a beginner.  I wanted to take a minute and share some of the resources that made my blog design process a success, so other blogger newbies can feel empowered to take control of their blog.

When I first started blogging I was very intimidated by the blogger interface.  I couldn’t figure out what was going on and decided to have someone design my blog for me.  She did a lovely job and I really liked my blog’s look and layout.  There are all sorts of wonderful blog template designer people out there.  The only problem I encountered was a lack of flexibility.  (This may not be the case with every custom blog template design…)

The blog template I had purchased was customized and as such I couldn’t make changes to the template, layout or design without fearing a complete blog meltdown.  I don’t know about you, but I like to fiddle around with my blog and keep it fresh and new.  So I got frustrated and decided to try doing my own thing.

*Disclaimer* – I am not a blog design expert!  I am just sharing what worked for me. 

First – create a test blog where you can mess around and try out lots of different backgrounds, layouts and looks.  I just made mine private so nobody could witness the madness!

Next – explore the blogger interface – choose the template look that works best for you.  Don’t get hung up on color schemes…look more at the header layout, what do the tabs look like, etc.  You can change the background, fonts and colors.  In the end I chose the “Simple Template”.

Then start to play around with your new look. I tried so many different background I can’t even tell you!  I did this by opening the background in PowerPoint.  Your layout should mimic your blog – Portrait and similar dimensions.  (This is what worked for me – may not be the smartest way)  I would then save the background as a .png file – these apparently open more quickly in blogger (according to a couple different websites).  I kept my background simple because I couldn’t seem to master the layered look…

Here is a tutorial I found to help with setting up your blogger background: 
This blog has all sorts of tutorials for blogger – you should check it out if you need some guidance especially with basic HTML.  Several of the tutorials helped me!
After my background was decided I began to work on my header, sidebar titles, social media icons and more.  Here are some of the tutorials I found:
I had to play around with the different pieces of this a lot!  Be patient!  I had about 100 tabs open on my browser and created many images that did not end up working – they were too big, too small, ugly, etc.  But I got better and better at creating images and using the tools that these tutorials explained and now feel semi-confident that I could do it again in half the time!

Tutorial Websites: So, if you are looking for blogger tutorials these are the two websites that you should check out (same as from the links above just go to homepage)
http://makincuteblogs.com/ – to to Tutorials
http://www.somethingswanky.com/ – go to DIY design

Free Graphics: I also found a website with amazing graphics you can use for personal use or for your own blog design (not to sell as a template – you would need to buy the commercial license).  This lady takes pictures and somehow extracts the images to create some really cool graphics!  It’s not easy to sort through all of her stuff, but it’s worth it!  I got my thumbprint art here:
http://www.scrappincop.com/ – just start scrolling through!

Free Digital Paper (Backgrounds):If you haven't invested in digital paper yet to use as your background, you can find amazing backgrounds to download for free here:

I hope these resources are helpful if you’re thinking about making some changes to your blog.  I truly could not have done it without them! 

Mrs. Castro
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  1. The new look of your blog is just superb..It looks so simple and attractive...Template Design

  2. This is SO on my to do list! Thank so much for the inspiration to give it a try.

    Chickadee Jubilee

    1. Get ready to be 100% focused on this project - it was hard for me to step away and be normal...I just wanted to work on designing my blog. Hopefully you're better at prioritizing! :)

  3. fantastic post and Thanks for sharing this info. It's very helpful.
    web agency brussels

  4. Love your new look. I'm wanting a new look myself. Thanks for the inspiration. I'm definitely going to tackle this project. These tutorials will be great help.
    Ms. Kerri and her Krazy Kindergarten

    1. I like your blog design! Yours is already bright and fun...mine just wasn't!

  5. I even made my blog header in Word. It's not perfect, but it's something! :) I love your new design- so bright!

    Luckeyfrog's Lilypad

    1. Thanks Jenny! I looked at your blog when looking for inspiration! I like that you kept it simple.

  6. I want so badly to have a new cute blog design that I create! It's too funny because I just posted literally about 2 minutes ago about looking for a good tutorial or a cheap custom made one. But I agree with you, I want to be able to change it as I want as well as feel the pride of doing one myself! I'm going to try these tips out and see how it goes! Wish me luck!

    BakingCraftingTeaching Oh My

  7. I am your newest follower! I'm always looking for bilingual resources so I'm so happy to look at your resources. BTW, your blog looks awesome. Love the free digital backgrounds.

    Enchanted with Technology

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