At almost five years in, my blog had never had a design or logo refresh. I know, shame on me. While I had made itty bitty changes to the site via plugins, widgets, and the like over the years, the basic layout and logo never changed, and it wasn't because I didn't want to do it. I hesitated for several reasons: 1) I work full time and was focused on making sure there was new content daily 2) financially, I wasn't making enough off of the site to cover the costs of a major redesign 3)I was nervous to make the decisions that I would surely commit to for at least another few years to come.
I finally came to the realization that the other aspects of my site may be suffering because I never was able to take the time to create a new look, and finally bit the bullet last November to start the process. Right after February the new face of Fashion Pulse Daily launched, and I've never been happier; all of the worry, time, and money was certainly worth it, and it wasn't as daunting as it originally seemed.
Below I've devised a few questions to ask yourself if it's about time to give your site a redesign, alongside some pointers that may help move the process along.
1) Are you embarrassed of the current site?
You may not want to admit it, or automatically get a gut reaction, perhaps even a tad bit unconsciously, that your site makes you cringe. After some blogging under your belt, you may feel like your site is just a little too novice looking, or perhaps you are sick of seeing the background skin color over and over again! Which leads me to….
2) Does your site no longer reflect your blog and who you are as a blogger and a person?
This is an important one to consider, since blogs do tend to grow and evolve, adding or subtracting categories, features, and even the focus. If you feel that the logo/graphics/layout of your site is no longer in sync with what you've been expressing and feel don't reflect you as a blogger, then it's time to figure out a more appropriate design that does. Sometimes having an unbiased opinion, like from a graphic design professional, can lend a fresh perspective as to what would be a more on target match for your aesthetic.
3) Do you feel any envy over fellow bloggers' sites?
I hate to draw comparisons between my site and others, but I began to notice that some people who started around the same time as me had already gone through several site refreshes, or newer bloggers to the game had incredible designs that I really admired. This made me realize that I had to step up my design ASAP! Since I do strive to make money with my blog, I feel that it does have to contain certain criteria, aesthetically speaking, in order to rationalize my rates and stay competitive with the other blogs in my category.
Tip 1: Make a List of Features You Love
While I was looking at some fellow bloggers' sites, I started to compile a document of features that they had that I loved and why.
For me, most of these things would improve the functionality and reader experience, and helped me keep tabs of the elements that I felt I absolutely couldn't live without including in the redesign (a slideshow was one of my must-haves).
Tip 2: Find a kick ass designer, or get your ducks in a row to DIY it
While doing step #4, I found out about Lisa Butler of Elembee Designs, who also blogs, and did an amazing job on my friend Eileen's site. If you like somebody's blog, scroll to the bottom and see who is responsible for designing it, or if it's a WordPress Theme you can easily pick up and modify to fit your needs. If your budget for this is pretty much non-existent, check out Jennine's article on 6 Graphic Design Resources for Fashion Bloggers, or see if a blogger friendly all-in-one option, that includes a monthly subscription and slew of services that can be hosting, mobile viewing optimization, and support such as Virb, may be a good switch for you. Even just switching from one free layout/theme to another and changing the colors or font of your design can breathe some new life into it!
Tip 3: Sometimes knowing what you don't want is just as important as what you do want
You know you most likely want a new design…but where do you start?! Besides other things to consider, my designer suggested I create a Pinterest board, which really helped me visualize colors and designs that I found pleasing to me…but along the way I discovered that there were certain colors, motifs, and designs that made me instantly scrunch my nose up in disgust. I think it's important to clearly spell these things out when working with a designer, or even yourself, so that you can cut out a lot of back and forth and get to your final design a lot faster!
Have you undergone a redesign lately? If so, any tips?
[Image credit: Shutterstock.com]