Building a Beautiful Backend October 3, 2011Posted by christinapappas in Blogging, Strategy.
We talk a lot about starting a blog, choosing a topic, setting a schedule, attracting readers, building community and staying motivated to keep doing it but I hardly ever see anyone talk about actually building the blog. As in picking out a theme, a color scheme, fonts, a banner image, and even pics of yourself as the author (if you choose). This is what I call the backend (ya that kind, not the other kind).
This is the stuff that’s the hardest for me to do.
You see, I am a marketer but in no way shape or form am I a designer. You could put some layouts in front of me and I can tell you which ones I like and perhaps give you some suggestions for improvement based on the numbers, but I am not going to be the go-to person for starting from scratch – ever. And that’s ok. But on my blog, I am a 1 woman show. I don’t have a design team on my payroll, I don’t have a coder or a flash developer. I had to do this all by myself (unless I paid someone).
Many of you are in the exact same position. So how did I do it?
My brother was the one that actually turned me on to the WordPress Child themes which presented me with a myriad of options. Needless to say I was overwhelmed. I love the font on that one, but I love the way this right sidebar is formatted. Oooo, I love those social media icons. And that blog layout.
So I went through all the demos like this and built a list of about 10 ones that I liked and that I thought might work for me. I made notes next to each of them to remind myself why they were on my list and what I liked most about them.
I then made a second list of everything I wanted my blog to have like a search function, email subscribe, a space to put video, a tag cloud, social icons, my tweets, my blogroll, etc.
I put it all aside for a few days and just didn’t think about it. I didn’t look at themes, I just put the whole thing out of my mind.
Then I revisited the themes I had chosen and the list of ‘wants’ that I had for my blog.
After taking a break and coming back, I noticed that the things I liked about some layouts, I didn’t care for anymore. I actually was saying ‘what the heck was I thinking’ several times as I went through my former short list. I was able to get my list to my top 4.
With my top 4 list and the list of things I needed my blog to do, I compared the two. I had ordered my 4 favorites from best to worst so if the first one on my list was able to do everything I wanted and needed it to do, then we had a winner.
The confusing part for me was that if all these themes were ‘extremely configurable’, then why did I have to make the decision in the first place? Couldn’t I just choose any theme and turn it into what I wanted my blog to look and feel like? Why the endless choices and ongoing confusion?
From what I understand (and love your opinions and insights in the comments on this) is that the themes are there essentially to help people like me who don’t have a design bone in their body. The theme is like a paint by number piece of artwork. The stencil is there, they have handed me the exact shade of red that belongs in said space and all I need to do is take the paint and color it in.
That made it a lot easier to understand but had me revisiting my list again. Could my top choice do everything without me needing to do too much to it? The answer was yes. And because I was now running with a purchased Genesis theme, I had way more widget options available to me.
Theme selected. Check!
Logo, banner, images selected. Check!
Content for pages done. Check!
Everything I wanted to have in a blog. Check!
So stay tuned for a new look and feel for The Content Cocktail!