It's amazing to me that while the fashion blogosphere is huge and growing every day, there still isn’t a great resource to turn to when designing your blog. Web design is one more thing we end up figuring out on our own. Luckily, bloggers are natural self-starters and go-getters—but we always appreciate a helping hand. I sure could have used it when I was designing my own blog.
Three years ago when I launched my blog, Style Wax Poetic, I wish I would have known to ask some important questions: Who can create the look I want? What’s an average cost per design for fashion blogs? Is email-only the norm for communication? How does design affect SEO?
With the little resources I had, I took a leap of faith and re-designed my blog, but I’ve never been 100% satisfied for a few reasons.
For starters, I wasn’t prepared and went into it without a clear vision of what I wanted. Second, I hired a designer who doesn’t allow phone calls; everything was done via email. Lastly, I spent $700 for a design that I consider pretty basic. With a little more information, I could have saved hundreds of dollars.
But I won't to let my bumpy path be in vain. Hopefully you an learn from my mistakes by following the steps below!
1. Figure out the style you want—get specific.
When approaching your design, it’s important to have a clear vision of what you want regarding typography, width, logo, overall feel, color-scheme, slide banners at the top and the way you’d like your sidebar to appear. Screenshot what you like from other sites and build your desired look and layout in photoshop or another simple graphics tool you're comfortable with. That will provide the designer an instant understanding of what you like.
2. Make SEO a priority.
SEO wasn’t my designer’s top priority, which makes me believe she may not have had my best interests in mind and just wanted to complete the job. When interviewing designers, don’t be afraid to ask how they will prioritize SEO. Some items to consider:
- Is your design mobile friendly?
- How will the design keep readers engaged and maintain a low bounce rate?
- Will the design include a customized, well-designed plug-in with related stories below each post?
3. Determine whether you need a full custom design or a pre-designed layout.
Here’s where I’m really kicking myself. When I knew I wanted to take my blog to the next level, that meant an investment. Shelling out $3,000 was out of my range, but a $750 dollar investment I could do—it seemed worth it in the long run. My blog is pretty simple in terms of layout and I recently discovered that a pre-designed layout would have been a lot cheaper and maybe even closer to what I was originally looking for.
After taking a look at Thrift and Threads, I realized she used the same designer but purchased pre-designed layout for only $75. My customized blog design didn’t add much except a logo design and a customized signature after every post. Thrift and Threads did have someone help with with a few extra add-ons to expand the width and it appears the side bar has been customized to hear liking. There are so many great options for pre-designed websites that you can make your own.
4. Where should you purchase a good design?
I’ve been on the lookout for a good designer for sometime because I'll be taking on another re-design. Here are a few places I recommend:
If you’re interested in a custom full design:
- Exsite.ca—known for desiging The Skinny Confidential beautiful blog starting at $7K
- Project M Plus—custom design, marketing and copywriting starting from $5K. Known for designing Sincerely Jules
- Willa Agency—a clean, specific esthetic
- Blog-Coo—designs with a little more playfulness, co-owned by Lauryn Evarts from The Skinny Confidential.
If you’re interested in a pre-design
- Easy—surprisingly they have some amazing designs starting at $18. Make sure to look for themes by platform: Blogger or WordPress (highly recommended).
- Leap Marketing—she’s not taking new custom designs and she works only by email, so I don’t recommend the full design process with Leap, but she does have a few great pre-designs as mentioned above for $75.
- Here is also a link to a variety of new themes for 2016 recommended by fashion bloggers.
A blog redesign takes a lot of time, work and energy, but getting it right is worth it in the long run. Branding, aesthetic and usability play a huge role in the outcome and success of fashion blogger. Good luck!