If you get in any group of bloggers together and bring up the topic of layouts and design, chances are you’ll hear a chorus of groans followed by, “I hate changing my blog’s layout!” As a result, many keep their blog the same for years or pay someone else to design it. That doesn’t have to be the case! I wanted to share a few tips and tricks I’ve learned over the past 10+ years of creating websites and tinkering with blogs. It doesn’t have to be a frustrating process, I promise!
Tip 1: Don’t Practice on Your Live Site
Whether your based on Blogspot, WordPress or Tumblr (or some other service), don’t practice on your blog. If you’re just learning, setup a test blog on your platform and play around with possible layouts there. You’ll want to have a place where you can flex your muscles and learn the ropes. Once you’re confident in your skills, then work on your blog.
Tip 2: Estimate How Much Time You’ll Need
Once you have a grasp of the basics, estimate how much time you’ll need to make the changes. Do you want to make easy edits like the color of your links or are you looking to overhaul your whole layout? The former is a quick fix but the latter can take days. Don’t embark on your edits without having an idea of how long it will take. Once you have that figured out, set aside that time whether it’s after work or on the weekend.
Tip 3: Shut Your Website Down or Use a Remote Site When Editing
This is especially important if you have a fair amount of visitors who might get confused when they see changes happening live. Plus, you want to be able to unveil your site once you’ve put the finishing touches on the design. For those on Blogspot, this might mean making a practice blog and then copying the code or temporarily making your blog password only. On WordPress, I recommend setting up a sandbox site on your local machine where you can see your edits. Here’s a good tutorial on how to do that.
Tip 4: Know When to Go to Bed
The worst thing is feeling cranky and miserable after working on your blog. Web design can be a fun and invigorating experience and the last thing you want to do is drive yourself crazy. If you hit the wall in your web design, walk away from the computer and finish it tomorrow.
Tip 5: Have Fun and Keep an Open Mind
There’s no reason to feel dread when it comes to web design! The way I look at it is every layout I work on is a learning experience. Not only do I come away with new knowledge every time, but I can usually edit faster next time around. Remember everyone is always learning when it comes to design. After all no one was born knowing HTML and CSS. It’s a learning experience that can be incredibly empowering. There’s nothing better than answering, “Me!” when someone asks you who designed your site.
If you have any questions, please let me know! I just redsigned my site after not doing a major overhaul for about seven months and I wanted to share what I learned (again) from the experience. Let me know what you think of my new design!