By Design

Do you like my new header?  My blogging friend Susie designed it for me!.  She has launched a new blog design business called A Little Luxury.  Her specialty is working with people who use Blogger, though she can also help out Typepad folks like me with headers.   And folks, her prices are AMAZINGLY low.  I mean, really, really, crazy, what-is-she-thinking low.  So before she figures out how talented she really is and raises her prices, you should run over there RIGHT NOW and sign up to have her freshen up your blog.  Be sure you see her gallery of designs!

Paint Speaking of blog design, I’d be interested to hear some good discussion on the topic–so please, weigh in!  How important is blog design to you, as a reader?  Do you find yourself drawn to a particular "look" of blog?  Does it bug you when a blogger changes his or her design very often?  Do you think dark or light backgrounds are easier on the eyes?  Are there any design features you really like to see?  Any you don’t?

As for me, my ever-aging eyes seem to prefer a white or very light background–much easier to read, especially late at night (when I do most of my blogging).  And one important feature I always like to see is a way to e-mail the writer.  And obviously design changes don’t bother me, seeing as how I change mine all the time (you should see how often I rearrange things in my house!).

So, you great bunch of commenters, let’s talk blog design.  What do you have to say?  If you think of it, come back to see what others are saying–we can all learn something!

41 thoughts on “By Design

  1. EmmaSometimes says:

    I like the new header.
    People like cheerier and white is always good. Bigger font and less clutter seem to be a plus. I constantly move things around just because I get bored. Oh well…
    I also help people with their templates, but I do it free and when I can work it in between hubby’s business, posts, friends, school, four kids, carpool, chores, aka, rarely..Hehe.

  2. Amber says:

    I really like the new header. I love when blogs redesign. I don’t care if it is often. I love to redesign mine whenever I get the chance. It is a fun way to be creative.
    I think the design of a blog (or any website) can be a great asset or a big turnoff to potential readers. Many times I find myself making a snap decision on whether I should even proceed to read a new blog based on how user-friendly their design is. If there are a bunch of flashy things and the text is hard to see on the background of the site, the blog will most likely lose my attention before I even really give it a chance. My husband does web design/development for a living and I am a information architect/interaction designer who dabbles in web design, so I might be a little more critical than most. I have some strong opinions about web design and accessibility/compatibility.
    Incidentally, your site displays well in my Firefox browser and is easy to navigate and read, so you pass that very important test for me. 🙂

  3. Stacey says:

    I love everything you’ve done with the new look!!
    I’m still so new to this whole blog world that I don’t know how to change anything on mine! I read what I can relate to and that’s about the only reason I choose one blog over another.

  4. Mel says:

    I love your new look.
    I like white background and black letters . . . it’s easiest to read. While I appreciate a cute blog, the content is what really matters to me the most. I don’t like a cluttered blog with ten thousand flashing things on it.

  5. Meredith says:

    I think the look is important. I like to read blogs that are bright, clear, and not cluttered. Light colors are easier to read on then darker. The header is a good place to reflect the writer’s personality. I like yours, it tempts me to try and find one for me.

  6. ~m2~ says:

    white? important. really important – so people can read easier (there have been studies, and i would link to one but i am pressed for time……..)
    cheery? depends on the blog and its content. cheery is good if you are you, but cheery would not be good if you were me because i am not *cheery* (does that make sense? i am a joyful person, don’t get me wrong, but more of a classical art lover blogger so a cute basket of laundry would not work for me like it does for you.)
    does that sound bad? i hope not!
    thinking about how that sounds….
    now the disclaimer: shannon, please know i don’t mean that in a snarky way….i love coming here or you wouldn’t be one of my first stops! 🙂
    i think art or photography can add to your story but should not be the main focus. could help bring things into focus. i will write something relatively quickly, but the google search for art can sometimes take too long. i am working on that 🙂

  7. Kim from Hiraeth says:

    I love coming here and seeing your changes. Your blog’s design seems to reflect you to a “t”. Bright and breezy and cheery. I think each design you have had reflects joy and energy.
    I’ve been fooling around with mine–partly because I had problems with my code and partly because I am trying to learn to do more for myself. I’m not satisfied with what I’m doing yet, but I think it at least reflects who I am–pretty calm and stable and well, peaceful. (Not that that is a bad thing!) I really do think that design-beyond the ready made templates and even then, to some degree-reflects a bit about the person behind the blog and that’s great.

  8. Jane Payne says:

    I love your new blog look! Kudos to you and Susie. I like your blue on white–it’s soothing and inviting.
    My opinion on sites/blogs?
    -Too much unorganized info on the page overwhelm me.
    -I like the use of bullets when applicable so that I can peruse info quickly.
    -I like the use of photographs that depict the posting
    -I especially enjoy posts that are positive (especially in the face of trauma, i.e., lightning bolts on a rented van)
    Shannon–you fit the bill on all of them, that’s why I like your blog so well. I’m a fan!

  9. Carol says:

    That is a nice banner, Shannon. I was enjoying the wompy dryer illustration, too. Maybe you can change things out from time to time? Not too often though, right? I prefer reading black on white. Sidebars can be colored as long as everything is legible. For me, the most important thing is navigability. I really hate not being able to find the comments link because someone had to swim upstream and post it at the top of every message or something.
    The only other thing I think is extremely important is a lush reciprocity area. Link exchange and comments are what makes the blog world go ’round.

  10. peach says:

    I like simplicity and a blog that fits well in my browser. Shannon, yours meets both requirements. You are usually my first stop in the morning, too, and I have hung in there with you through at least six or more changes. I love the adventure of anticipating what you’ll do next! Love this one, BTW. Good job, Susie!
    Content is important, and as I have always mentioned — spelling is paramount to me. If you repeatedly make errors, I may enjoy what you have to say — but my eyeballs refuse to stick with you through the fray.
    White with dark type is the easiest to read. I’d like to make some changes myself, but find myself sorely lacking in the design realm.

  11. Shannon in Surprise, Arizona says:

    I like your new header. I have been to Susie’s site and I like her’s too and the work I have seen from her. I tend to like a clean site, well organized and colorful. I love pictures too! I need a face lift on mine…so I may need a bit of Susie 🙂

  12. Randi says:

    Love your new look!
    I like creative-looking templates. They are just more fun to look at the basic ones.
    It does bug me a bit when people change their template alot–just when you get used to their look they go and change it! Can you tell that I like things to stay the same???

  13. Diane says:

    Well! I am challenged by this! Since I am new to blogging–and remain solidly computer challenged (upgraded from computer illiterate just a couple of months ago!)…..I have noticed others changing their designs and templates…but have never wanted to venture into template land–afraid I would collapse ALL of blogspot and maybe even the neighboring typepad!
    I appreciate the look/design of a blog–but am more drawn to the content. I love blogs that share openly and honestly about real issues–love blogs that start great dialogues….and love to leave a blog smiling ( a great sense of humor keeps me coming back!).
    So, the short of it remains: I’ll be back! No matter what you do to your templates (they look mah-ve-lous, btw!).
    🙂 Diane

  14. Sue says:

    Love your look. I like the white background as well. I find a black background very hard on my eyes, especially if it’s in a small print.

  15. flipflop says:

    I love changing my blog design often. I love white. The yellow on my site is getting on my nerves. However, I DO (maybe I shouldn’t), but I do not like reading some blogs because of their design.

  16. Kate says:

    Oooooo sooo cute! I love white backgrounds or light colors. It’s just easier on my eyes. Changing is fun – just fun. Like decorating, except way way cheaper. I like a range of designs and colors. I LOVE blogs with pictures. It helps me picture the story or the point.

  17. Owlhaven says:

    Only rarely will I pass on a blog because of design. However I do have a few dislikes, including gargantuan font, frequent foul language, and black background, because my eyes get tired. Content is most important to me. If the content is well-written and humorous, I will be back, no matter what the site design looks like.
    Mary, mom to many

  18. Shalee says:

    Well, I like the new look, but I was just getting comfortable with your old one. I like things to be stable for a while. I compare it to someone who is changing hairstyles every other week. Nothing wrong with that, but I never know what to expect.
    I don’t like a lot of flashy things or tons of ads on the side. A super long blogroll makes me not want to look at the list. I like the light background, too, with easy to read font. (White space is always easy to read.
    Content is the most important part to me too. I choose to frequent places that are uplifting, funny and honest, rather than complete fluff or “bad for me”.
    And I love finding blogs where people will comment with real comments, not just shallow words to see your name on a comment section.
    But know this Shannon, no matter your look, I’ll be back because I like getting to know you and all the other minions you invite daily. To me, this is fellowship at its best on the net. This is the very reason I blog.

  19. mopsy says:

    Very nice!
    I prefer simple, clean lines. I hate blinkies, banners, ads, etc. It is probably related to my strong dislike of bumper stickers. Too much clutter in the sidebars is like a car plastered with cheesy, goofy, eye-rolling bumper stickers.
    White/light backgrounds are kinder on the eyes than dark.
    Echoing many others, content is key. I will overlook headache-inducing graphics if the writing rocks.

  20. Monica says:

    I, like Michelle, loved the photoshop dryer the best – though the new look is great too! And, like others am tempted to look into one for myself.
    I often find myself on a blog that is so cluttered or busy that I simply don’t want to read what they have to say. Which means I miss out on some good stuff, but simpler is better!

  21. mother of two says:

    I love your new look, too!
    I am fairly new to blogging and I am just learning how to add links and other things. I am tempted to get Blogging for Dummies. lol
    I got a lot of neat tips here from your commenters. Thanks!
    For me, content is most important. But if the look is too chaotic and confusing, I usually don’t stick around.

  22. Julie @ Everyday Mommy says:

    I like the new header design. Very fresh, very clean. I like the blue which always has a clean feeling and is indicative of water. Ever notice how many soaps have blue in their package design?
    I also like that it’s very, very readable. I’m a graphic designer (22 years of freelancing) and I work mainly in print media. Easy readability is so important. I like the fact that I can read your subtitle easily.
    Speaking as a designer, light backgrounds are always more easy to read, as is upper and lower case text and serif fonts. All upper case is more difficult on the eye.
    The only change I would suggest (this is strictly my personal opinion) is to make the body text darker, possibly even black. This will mean easier readability.
    In my designs I focus on a clean look. I stay away from visual clutter. Open space, or empty space is as important visually as is filled space.
    Now I have to master HTML so I can expand into web design…sure, I’ll do that in my spare time.

  23. Joy says:

    I love your blog. Very fun and informative; I am going to make that “reversed” flannel blanket.
    As someone who would like to start her own blog I would love advice on exactly how to start and manage a blog. For instance, how do you upload your pics? Were you a writer in a previous life and do you think anyone can write a blog, if not where can we go to brush up on our grammar skills? You get the idea. I realize when you sign up for a blog they give you a tutorial to learn what to do but it helps to get insight from someone who has “been there, done that”.
    Joy 🙂

  24. Gibee says:

    I LOVE the new banner! I’m still pouting because your picture is in black and white… COLOR, babe… color!!!
    I like a soft background (white, cream, light, light, light) and larger, dark-ish, simple font. I also like an email link… Although, I don’t think I have one … yet … Susie is working on something for me too!
    I don’t know html language very well, and have a tough time with the large font on the headers of my daily blogs… but we’re working on that with Susie’s help!
    I also kinda like the clothes dryer in your banner, because your name is Rocks in my DRYER… just a thought.

  25. Brandie says:

    I like your new header =)
    As far as personal likes – I hate when blogs have light font that is hard to read. I also dislike blogs where the background is a picture and the writing is over it.
    I like blogs with links on them – that’s how I find more blogs to read LOL!!! =)
    Other than that, there’s not too much I don’t like.

  26. chilihead2 says:

    Because there are so many blogs out there, I do find that I am drawn to blogs with good design. I don’t know that I’m drawn to a particular look, though I like one-of-a-kind type design.
    Constand design change does not bother me. In fact, I’d love to change my stuff around but I love my header too much to do anything to it! I love to see what other people can come up with though.
    Haven’t decided if I like 2 or 3 column better. I used to covet 3 columns, but now that I havce one, I’m not sure I want to keep it. I almost feel like I have to keep my posts short because the 3-column layout makes everything seem so long.
    I prefer light backgrounds, but do read a few that have dark backgrounds. Really, as most people have said, it’s the content that makes the final decision.
    As for design features I do/don’t like to see…I am not a big fan of adverts. I have kind of stopped paying attn to blogrolls unless I need something new to read (yeah, in my spare time!). And I’m a sucker for reading 100 Things.

  27. Antique Mommy says:

    I agree with you – readability is everything to me. I especially have trouble with a small font (Shalee!) Lighter backgrounds are better as well. I’m kinda of a less is more gal when it comes to design, so I don’t like a lot of buttons and ads and especially things that vibrate or jitter or move. I like it when the headers change periodically. Keeps it interesting. Having said all that, I’m over at Blogger with the simplest template they have and I have no idea how to do anything beyond post and add a link. Will need to look up Susie.

  28. Tiff says:

    I definitely am drawn to a blog because of its “design” sometimes even with good content it can be too much on the eyes if the design is not good! I do think that your friend did a wonderful job!!!

  29. abc momma says:

    My template changes as I learn more about working with the code. My header is the next thing to work on. Your header looks great, BTW.
    I like straight clean lines. It bugs me when something from the main section bleeds into the sidebar, but that may just be my browser’s problem.
    For the text, it is more comfortable to me if it is dark text on a very light (not necessarily white) background
    But most important is the content. I can’t stand swearing in writing other than *&$%.

  30. Traci says:

    I do like the new header, although I did really like the crazy dryer on your other one. I think being easy to read is more important than what the header looks like. I have been to some awesome looking blogs that are really boring and I’ve been to some plain jane blogs that I love and still continue to read. It all boils down to content. You can’t judge a blog by it’s cover! 🙂

  31. Chaotic Mom says:

    I think changing the look often is okay, but keep SOMETHING constant, like your photo. That helps to keep one registered with who’s blog they’re reading.
    I like light backgrounds better.
    My blog is okay right now, I just had it changed up a bit. But I’m already thinking about something different. Maybe it’s the change in seasons that gets me?

  32. Karen says:

    I adore the new header. I loved the old one too. What I like best, though, is the content and the neat person who writes it.
    I also prefer light backgrounds and easy to read fonts that are not fancy, a funky color, and are a decent size. I won’t read if I have to strain.

  33. beth says:

    I like the new look–very clean; although I also liked the funky font and dryer of your old header. I totally disagree (respectfully) with whoever-it-was who wants you to get a colour photo–I love the b & w and think that’s a great pic.
    I must admit that I am attracted or not attracted to how a site looks…she admitted guiltily as her own blog is just a template and she has no idea how to change it 🙂 But it’s content (interesting topics, good writing) that will keep me coming back. I don’t like dark backgrounds and light text, but don’t care too much what colour is used on the side.

  34. Faith says:

    I love your new look. Orange is not my favorite color – so , I like it a lot better! I like a white or light background too. I have very old eyes. Black backrounds can be very difficult,if the type is in some flourescent color.

  35. Islandsparrow says:

    I love to fool around with design – but I am just a beginner.
    I like a clean, fresh look – no clutter.
    I like light backgrounds – no ads – no flashy stuff – no marquees.
    I am very attracted to beautiful photography that goes along with thoughtful or funny posts.Long posts, without pictures, are less conducive to read unless they are written exceptionally well.
    I enjoy reading thoughtful comments too.
    I think design and good writing are both important to me – but good writing is what will keep me coming back to a blog.
    like this one 🙂

  36. Lei says:

    I had so much fun personalizing my blog recently… I cannot believe I did it all myself, lol. I just love everyone’s personal touches. It’s like your home, you know? It’s a reflection of you – the colors you choose, the details you add. It’s fun to kind of gain insight on bloggers based on what they choose to represent them… when I think about the blgos I’ve read, I remember their layout sometimes before I even remember their name! And no, it’s not like a judge by the cover kind of thing, it’s just one of the best ways for us to show who we really are in the blog world

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