Blog DESIGN, BLOGGING | April 5, 2009

Top 3 Tips for a Blog Design Makeover

If you follow me on Twitter, Facebook or read At Home with Kim Vallee, you are aware that I migrated my main blog to WordPress last Friday. Any blog migration comes with a blog redesign. Let’s examine my top 3 tips if you are planning a blog makeover.

What are Your Goals?

Whether you do it yourself or outsource your blog integration, the first thing you need to do is to write a program that clearly expresses:

  1. the mood you wish to create, the style you aim for
  2. where you wish to bring your brand (a blog is brand). I believe that you must design for the future, not the past
  3. and to define your needs and the features you wish to have. Do not forget to specify the maximum width of your layout and other technical issues.

This long and hard process is crucial. While reading the comments I received about the new AHWKV look, I was proud that my readers spot my goals as something they like about the new design. It proves that we were successful. To stay focus the entire time, we considered my program over the whole design and implementation stages.

What Design Problems Do You Wish to Solve?

This is more and less a part of the mock-up step. I include it separately as people often get hooked on the problems. I have 15 years of quality software assurance to support this claim. Writing them down permit you to pass to something else.

For At Home with Kim Vallee, I wanted to solve the fact that my sidebar could not fit the Medium Rectangle ads (300×250 IMU). It was the trigger point for the new layout. But many other factors led to the fact that I switched to a 2-column layout.

Start with a Mock-Up

Illustrating your need with a mock-up is more efficient than writing everything down. You indicate what goes where. You validate and must take into account usability from a reader’s point of view.

If you are an interior designer, imagine this step as your initial space planning. You must take into account the actual size of things. Therefore, use Photoshop or a paper montage where you put what plugins and in what order do they will appear on your sidebar.

If it easy to be carried away with all the WordPress plugins that exist. Doing this exercise, allow you to validate their purpose. I always asked myself if a plugin adds value to my readers.

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