bwab screeshotDot over at Deeper Issues and I must be blogging sisters as we both enjoy looking at, experimenting with and/or changing our themes.

In the beginning days of blogging, I changed the theme to this blog quite regularly, but now use my test site to play with new themes so I don’t confuse all of you by making too many changes here.

On my next project, which is STILL under construction, I’m not only getting posts written for the unveiling, but am redesigning the theme. I’ve changed colors, added widgets, created and recreated the header a half dozen times, and played with so many fonts I’ve lost count all in an attempt to get it “just right”.

Today’s Lesson

Just as they say the first impression is a lasting one, the theme we use can say a lot about us and our blog.

Some choose colorful ones with photos, whereas other bloggers are sporting lots of white space.

Some have sidebars filled with ads, photos, badges and widgets. Others prefer things much more simple.

With so many blog themes to choose from, the possibilities are endless. Add to that the fact changing the code can result in an original creation, bloggers can customize their sites and make their theme a representation of who they are.

When I land on blogs, I wonder why the author chose the theme they did. Was it the color that attracted them, or the layout? Did they customize the header or did they choose to only display the name of the blog and its tag line? Does the theme represent what I’ll find in the articles? And is it a true representation of the author?

For me, I chose this theme because I can change the header image with just a few clicks. It has a “custom header” feature which allows me to download a different photo if I so desire.

Because I wanted this blog to showcase those who comment, older posts and interviews, advertisements took a back seat. (I have some in the footer).

What I’ve done may not work for others, but for this blog I feel it fits.

What about you?

Today’s Assignment

Why did you choose the theme you use?

Does it fit your personality or is it time for a change?

Raise you hand and share how your blog theme was born.

signature for blog post.

P.S. The photo at the top of the post is a screenshot of this blog prior to April 2009

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  1. I use to change my blog all the time. I just couldn’t get it to ‘feel’ right. After countless hours and more tweaks/changes than I can count, I finally hired a professional to create a theme specifically for ‘me.’ Now I am much more happy with it and while I still make changes at times, it’s minor things and not as often.
    .-= Check out Heather Villa´s awesome post: The Metrics of Social Media =-.

  2. Kelvin KaoNo Gravatar says:

    I wanted the text to be big enough and in high contrast with the background, so in other words, easy to read. I also wanted tabs in the header, but that part proved to be not so important to me anymore later on. I am planning to re-design it once I have time to pick up more skills. (For a site that’s used for business, it’s probably a good idea to hire professionals to tweak designs if you aren’t already good at it. But my site is for myself, and as a programmer, I like to mess with code myself. So that’s why I will be taking care of that.)
    .-= Check out Kelvin Kao´s awesome post: Puppetry Classes =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Kelvin,

      That’s a good point. Having our text large enough and in good contrast to the background make for easier reading.

      I’ll be watching to see what you end up doing with your site. Being able to do it yourself makes a huge difference.

  3. I personally love to keep things simple that’s why I design my own template and make it as simple as I can. I think my theme well represent my blog content and me.
    .-= Check out Arafat Hossain Piyada´s awesome post: Completing My 1 Year in Blogging Today, What I Gain? What I Lost? =-.

  4. Great questions! I chose my theme because I’m pretty much obsessed with the color orange. I also think orange fits pretty well with the idea of being positive since it’s a pretty upbeat color! For now I’m happy with it, but who knows what will happen in the blogging future!
    .-= Check out Positively Present´s awesome post: are the people in your life positive? =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Dani,

      I notice that too. When we are drawn to a color in the real world, we’re more apt to use it on our blogs.

      I like orange, too. It’s a happy color.

  5. KeithNo Gravatar says:

    Hello Barbara,

    Very good article! I must be honest, I chose my blog theme mainly because I know little about CSS. For that reason I used an existing template, though I did put my own header on it. One year ago I was brand new to blogging and was so anxious to get stared writing. My schedule is pretty full right now so I don’t really have time to learn CSS. I have learned much in the past year and in early 2010 I am launching a new blog, one with a wider scope so I can engage other topics. As I have learned, when you follow your heart and your passion things seem to “fall in place” when you need them too. I have met a an individual who does graphic design and is helping me design a custom blog this time around. 🙂

    Thanks Barbara!
    .-= Check out Keith´s awesome post: Dreaming Or Drifting? =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      You’re welcome Keith,

      I don’t see anything wrong with using existing or free templates. That’s what I’ve always used and like you said, with a few minor tweaks, we can make it our own.

      How exciting you’ll have a new blog come the new year. I’m anxiously waiting to see it and read your words of wisdom.

    • Cath LawsonNo Gravatar says:

      Keith – I would never have guessed that your template was a free one. It’s actually pretty cool. Far better than the free one I used to use anyway.
      .-= Check out Cath Lawson´s awesome post: 2 Things A New Business Must Do =-.

  6. Wow, you’re reading my mind! I’m in the process of redesigning the theme for Blogs With Wings. The present theme is a little dark and I want to give a more uplifting feel to the site. I felt it was time for a theme that was bright and hopeful. So there is going to be sunny orange, sky blue and fluffy white clouds – all presiding over an open and well-organized layout. One that makes it easy for people to connect with me and the blog.
    .-= Check out Blog Angel a.k.a. Joella´s awesome post: Making Old Posts New Again – Get Your Readers To Go Deeper =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Joella,

      *smiles* Isn’t it fun finding and using a different theme? Not only do we surprise our readers with the changes, but just like anything, even we get tired of looking at the same theme after a period of time.

      I’ll be checking in on you and your blog and check out the changes.

  7. CharleneNo Gravatar says:

    I started with simple…now I’m 2/3 of the way to a year and just realized how complicated I’ve made it. Will be re-doing this weekend. Re-do includes increasing font size, moving ads, making use of a new page for archiving and a page for news. *sigh* I have a custom header and am on Typepad, so I can’t use the wonderful themes you’ve tried out – no excuses though, I can do better with what Typepad has to offer.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Charlene,

      Oh, that sounds like fun. Even making a few little changes can make a big difference.

      I’m not familiar with what Typepad has to offer, but I do visit a variety of blogs who use that platform and see a large variety of options.

  8. FriarNo Gravatar says:

    Meh. I’m not impressed by the eye-candy.

    To me, 95% of a blog’s appeal is the content its posts, and the lively comment discussion than ensues.

    I know quite a few blogs that are quite boring and ugly to look at. But I regulary visit them, for precisely the reasons above.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Friar,

      That’s so true. If our content isn’t good, it doesn’t matter how great our blog looks.

      Eye candy? You must have candy on the mind as I just read your post about candy yesterday. 🙂

  9. Wendi KellyNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara,

    I chose my web Design very carefully and work closely with my web designer who was a great resource in helping me to get the feeling I wanted for Life’s Little Inspirations. I knew I wanted a Lighthouse. I had a sense that I wanted that beacon for folks to come to. My designer found the perfect banner and colors to give it that restful, inspirational feeling I was looking for. I can honestly say I never have the urge to change it. I love it just as much today as I did the day it was finished!

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Wendi,

      I still remember when you unveiled your theme. It is a beauty. I love the lighthouse, too. It fits the message of your blog perfectly.

      I just clicked over to it again, and can understand why you haven’t tired of it.

  10. KarinaNo Gravatar says:

    Originally I went with a white background, again very simple, but white. I love white and usually never use colour in my blogs. Somehow it just wasn’t working for me however. I played around with colour for a while, red, pink, blues… and then I landed on orange. It just felt right. To me orange is a very happy colour, and since I wanted my blog to remind me of the happiness that I have in my life, I decided to stick with orange, even though I would never have orange in my home. I’m very particular with colours.

    It was important for me to keep is simple and clean. That’s what attracts me to other blogs, so that’s what I wanted mine to be as well. Originally I had the text an even lighter grey because I liked the look, but realized that it was hard to read, so I darkened it a bit. I like light and simple, and I think that it works for me.
    .-= Check out Karina´s awesome post: Words of Wisdom =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Karina,

      I agree, orange is a happy color. And with what you’ve done, the simplicity makes your blog look real classy.

      That’s a good point about the color fonts we use. Some people have a problem reading text that doesn’t provide good contrast.

  11. Lori HoeckNo Gravatar says:

    Recently, I opted to move to a more minimalistic 2-column option for my site. A few tweaks more and my blog now says, “No hype here. Just powerful info.” I kept the black belt photo because I can’t think of anything else more appropriate. I didn’t play around with color too much because I’m an old-school journalist, and my topic isn’t cosmic, flowery, or snarky.
    .-= Check out Lori Hoeck´s awesome post: How Grandma’s wisdom helps in self defense =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Lori,

      That’s true. Since our blogs reflect us and the content, keeping the photo of the blackbelt in the header instantly tells your readers they’re in for a no nonsense blog.

      Yours is a great example of how the name, header and content are all consistent.

  12. DavinaNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara.
    I appreciate a funky, colourful-looking blog just as much as a professional-looking one. The content, conversation and connection with the blogger is more important to me, however. I chose my theme because I like the white space. I would like to have a header designed eventually, but for now, I’m satisfied… too many other irons in the fire right now.
    .-= Check out Davina´s awesome post: There’s An Artist In Our Midst =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Davina,

      I hear you. It’s the blog author that makes a blog. If they capture our interest, the theme becomes secondary.

      Like you, I also like white space. It gives me a chance to pause before continuing on.

  13. HilaryNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara .. great thought .. I changed my blogspot theme to be larger and colours that others didn’t have, but I hope keeping it simple.

    I haven’t done much – as I need to move it, and I still need to learn how I can do things .. I’d like it to be simple, eye catching, positive in its outlook, cheerful .. the things I hate are too busy (if it’s unnecessary additional bits and pieces eg ads), and moving banners, or ads, or blogger play – anything that distracts from the content of the blog.

    I do look at other blogs to glean ideas .. and thoughts – but my progress has been zilch as my mind has had to go in other directions .. but it’s working on the best type of approach to my blog. I look forward to your next project and see what you’ve done!

    All the best Hilary Melton-Butcher
    Positive Letters Inspirational Stories
    .-= Check out Hilary´s awesome post: Iron Curtain or a rich Green Natural Wilderness =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Hilary,

      That’s an excellent idea. To analyze what other bloggers are doing with their blogs and pick and choose favorite ideas. Since we have to look at our blog so much, we definitely want something we enjoy looking at, too.

      My new project is moving right along. I had time to work on it again today and am getting closer to the unveiling.

  14. DaphneNo Gravatar says:

    Barbara, I’m actually in the process of changing my blog template to better reflect myself and the content of my page, so your post comes at an opportune time. My initial theme was chosen for the clean lines and warm colors – yellows and blues, happy and sad together. I just added a header by Kim Salyer at Thinking Out Loud (http://kdsthinkingoutloud.blogspot.com). It’s the first change of many. I’m going to use your idea of using a test site to try out my changes so I don’t scare people (or break something). Thanks for the encouragement!
    .-= Check out Daphne´s awesome post: Patience and Waiting =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      You’re welcome Daphne,

      I clicked over to take a look at your header. It’s beautiful. I like that country road. It has such a tranquil feeling.

      Yes. A test site works wonders. I test themes and plugins, too. That is also where I learn more about CSS and how by changing a little bit of code, we can change the whole look of our themes. Fun!

  15. J.D. MeierNo Gravatar says:

    I enjoy the continuous challenge of whittling away the gaps between me and my blog. Hemmingway blurred the lines between his adventurous life and his writing.

    I like to stay simple and clean, but at the same time, I try to avoid the “tip of the iceberg problem.” It’s a balance between simple starting points and breadth/depth.

    I stopped changing themes (for now) but I’m still playing around with layout. I just re-organized my sidebar. It’s not where I want it, but it’s at least simple to find some of the key things.

    I try to keep it clean and casual. I have a mixed audience, but life is mixed so I like that. I also want to keep it feeling fresh. I like the key to any blog and author is growth.
    .-= Check out J.D. Meier´s awesome post: Balance Connection and Conviction to Reduce Anxiety and Lead Effectively =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi J.D.

      I noticed how you had made the changes to your sidebar. It’s looking great.

      That’s true what you said about us growing as bloggers. What worked for us in the early days, no longer fits. I always find it fascinating to watch how a blog author changes their theme as their blog (and them, too) develop.

  16. I chose my theme because it’s clean and pretty. It still fits… so no need to change.
    .-= Check out vered | blogger for hire´s awesome post: Genetic Testing for Children: Would You Do It? =-.

  17. PatriciaNo Gravatar says:

    I am just working on keeping my writing of good quality and reflecting my values and changes, because by attempting this ebook I have learned that with my kind of dyscalcula I am totally dependent on my IT Geek to do the layouts and code and themes….
    Sometimes I have to beg her for changes…other times I buy her a Wii or Wii Fit….this trip I am buying her a reading chair for her graduate studies and to get the ebook published in time for Thanksgiving.

    🙂 I do what I need to do…;)
    I just love all the creative ideas…and was wishing I could figure out how to share this beautiful power point presentation someone made about how the design of food relates to our health….it was beautiful…but my IT does not have time and I do not have the talent…

    You do such wonderful work….and I love all of yours and Dot’s changes and sharing. Thank you for being you…and sharing that on your blog.
    .-= Check out Patricia´s awesome post: Dear Michael Pollan =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      You’re welcome Patricia,

      Like Friar and Davina said, it’s the content that is the most important, and you do that VERY well.

      As for tweaking your blog, just take things one at a time. I know you’ve been busy with your ebook and like I mentioned before, I’m anxiously awaiting it’s publication. I know you’ve done an awesome job. (Plus, you’ve learned ebooking. WooHoo). 🙂

  18. I wanted the theme to be minimalist but also slightly psychedelic. I love how the colors always change, some may say it can be off-putting, but I think it is reflective of the way reality really is. And something about that just seems organic to me.
    .-= Check out Steven Handel´s awesome post: 33 Questions from Dragos Roua =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Steven,

      I just clicked over to your blog, hit one of the categories and see what you mean about the colors changing. I like that. It’s not only original, but appears to fit you and your blog topic. Good pick!

  19. As always, your post covers something I’ve been wondering about. Are you reading my mind? I chose my blog theme by “trying out” about a zillion on word press. Okay maybe not a zillion, but I just kept hitting “preview.” Then I settled on one that was simple. Kind of thought of it as my starter theme. Now that I’ve been out in the blogosphere though, I notice so many with the clean, black and white theme. So I wonder, what’s up with that? Is there something I don’t know? Now that I’ve been doing this for a bit, I’m looking to customize a theme in the near future, and probably choose a new one. But there’s no rush.
    .-= Check out Patty – Why Not Start Now?´s awesome post: A Large State of Fear =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Patty,

      We must be on the same wave lengths, hey? I know what you mean about hitting the “preview” button. It’s so hard to choose.

      Re: the black and white themes. I’ve seen a lot of those too. In fact, that was what I had prior to this themes. It appears just like fashion, blog themes change and evolve. When I began using this one, several mentioned the header was too big, but I liked it so I left it as is. Ironically I’m now seeing new themes coming out with bigger headers, too. Hmmm.

      It really comes down to what a blog author likes and what they feel best suits them and their blog topic. I think that’s where our individuality really shines through.

  20. Raul OjedaNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara,

    I just found your blog and, after reading several of your posts (very useful information!) I’m tempted to leave a comment.

    I am not good at all with computers so in my blog I just used a simple theme that doesn’t give much choice but also simplify my life.

    There are many things I would like to do with the theme to better reflect what I want to say, but those will have to wait till I learn a little more on how to do them.

    Basically I wanted simplicity and a theme that was easy in the eyes; sort of a relaxing page to see, with not too many colors and shapes, and nothing moving all around. So far I’m satisfied with the results.

    I liked your idea of a test site! Very useful to try things and learn “hands on” without destroying what’s already acomplished (for me even adding a smiley is a misterious thing!) I’ll do it!

    Raul
    .-= Check out Raul Ojeda´s awesome post: Technologically Dumb! =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Raul,

      I’m so happy your found me and my blog, It’s great having you here and as you’ll find out, those who show up in the comment section here, are blog authors with blogs well worth visiting, too.

      You’ve raised a good point. Simplicity says a lot. Not only does it make it easy for our readers to find stuff, but by keeping things simple, nothing gets in the way of our content.

      With regard to a smiley. The basic one is just two keystrokes. Use the semi colon [ : ] and the right parentheses [ ) ] and you’ll get this 🙂

      If you use the semi colon with the left parentheses [ ( ], you will create a sad face 🙁 (There are no spaces between the two keystrokes)

      • Raul OjedaNo Gravatar says:

        Hi Barbara,

        Thank you for the welcome and support.

        I believe the theme is important but the quality of the content should be even more, so I try to give more attention to improve the quality in my posts and later, as I go, give some little tweaking to details in the theme.

        Thank you for the info on a smiley (did I mention that I have no clue on computers?)

        Raul
        .-= Check out Raul Ojeda´s awesome post: Why Alien Ghost =-.

        • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

          You’re welcome Raul,

          That’s true. Content is much more important than the theme, however we certainly don’t want to turn away new readers by having a theme that distracts them so much they don’t even stick around (like Zeenat said – see the next comment).

          P.S. For someone who has no clue about computers, you’re doing a great job.

  21. HI Barbara,
    My god..I have lost count too as to how many times i have changed and then change and then changed the blog theme and header. Phew!!
    I’m still new to the blogging world…6 months in…and my blog is on wordpress.com for that very reason. Its cause its simple..and doesnt really require a CSS understanding. I can choose my theme and play around very simply.
    2 things that i look for in a theme are “Custom Header and Three column”.
    Custom header- cause it adds a kind of branding to the blog.
    Three column- cause then everything stays organized..and i can add new stuff anytime without it being cluttered.
    Finally after trying so many…I have now settled for one theme. I am getting a good response from my readers as well saying they like the new look..So am happy for now 😉
    I do love love love widgets..somehow its like accessorizing and adding facets to the blog. And since my blog is now my new baby…I love to doll her up 🙂
    I would love for you to have a look at the new theme on my blog and tell me what you think 🙂
    Finally though its the CONTENT that counts the most and I try hard to keep that good. But i feel if a reader lands on my blog at random….and finds a pleasing theme, he/she will stay longer and dig deeper. Just my way of thinking 🙂
    Lots of love…

    .-= Check out Zeenat{Positive Provocations}´s awesome post: Multiple Personality By Choice! =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Zeenat,

      You, too, are another “sister”. Who knew changing our themes could be so much fun?

      Like you, I prefer the three column. It does help to keep things more organized, especially when we have a lot to share with our readers or want to use multiple widgets.

      I was just on your blog and LOVE what you’ve done. Not only have your changed the theme, but I see you’ve added your services (free and paid). That’s a fantastic idea. And, right there at the top of your header where it’s easy to find. Great job, Zeenat.

      And yes. If a new reader lands on our blog, having a pleasing theme is more likely to get them to stick around and start digging.

  22. When I went to change my site from being a personal blog to a professional one, I decided that blue and white were calm professional colours that blue also inspired people to dream (think Caribbean or Mediterranean Sea).

    I’ve edited theme several times moving away from a strictly blog website to one that has more focus on being a business website with articles relevant to the business.

    In its latest incarnation, the blog homepage directs people to three things: a Someday Assessment, the Newsletter and the latest article.
    .-= Check out Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome´s awesome post: Controlling Control Issues: The Lab Rats Look At Who’s In Charge =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Alex,

      I love the blue on your theme as well as the photo. It’s one of those photos that can take you to a place far away. Very tranquil.

      What you’ve done with your blog, converting it to more of a business website has worked perfectly. When someone lands on your homepage, the reader is inspired to “take action”.

  23. suzenNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara!
    My original “look” or blog design came out of the box, blogger templates, because I had no idea what I was doing. It was a basic brown nun shoe I think, very blah. I had a make-over a few months back to a light background and a few butterflies – keeping it simple but at least original. I didn’t do it – I hired it done. So I feel I’ve gone from an oxford nun’s shoe to a light and breezy sandal – feels just right!

    The title of my blog, Erasing the Bored, is about finding (thinking about) all the wonders and awes of life so you can never say you ARE bored. It’s eclectic in content and I have fun with being the butterfly who flits around (topic wise) and lands in expected places. I’m more concerned about content than looks on blogs and I barely even SEE the blog designs on the blogs I read after the initial visit.
    One thing drives me nuts are the people who put MUSIC on their blog that pops on the minute you start reading it, forcing you to listen. I’m already playing MY music in the background – it’s too “noisy”.

    Anyway, does my blog reflect me? I’m thinkin’ yes.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Suzen,

      So, that’s how your blog name came about. I wondered about that. I like your idea of “never being bored”. And that’s true, if we make time to see the wonders and possibilities that surround us, there’s no time to get bored.

      I know what you mean about landing on blogs after the initial visit and really not noticing the theme. It’s like we’re anxiously waiting to read what our blogger buddies are sharing and become blind to the blog itself.

  24. George AngusNo Gravatar says:

    Barbara,

    In the year or so I’ve been blogging, I’ve had two themes and this weekend I will do a major theme revision over to Headway. I’m excited about this upcoming change because I have a clear direction and I’ll be able to do some customizations.

    I like to change things up a bit on my site every month or so – adding or deleting widgets and such – kinda like re-arranging the living room furniture.

    George
    .-= Check out George Angus´s awesome post: Vintage George – 15 Years Is A Long Time =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi George,

      How exciting. A new theme. I’ll be by to check it out.

      That’s true. Changing things on our blog is like redecorating or rearranging furniture. It’s always fun to mix it up every once in awhile.

  25. Hi Barbara,

    My husband and I designed the logo for my blog. I specifically wanted something that conveyed what I felt. We found a theme that would enable us to use the logo that we designed. I wanted a clean and simple look. We were able to do that. Within six months, we picked an even more professional theme and still was able to use the logo. I personally think it is vital to have your own logo as part of your blog. It may take time to create it but it so much fun and so worth it.
    .-= Check out Nadia – Happy Lotus´s awesome post: Vampires, Investments and Love =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Nadia,

      What fun. And how lucky you are to have your husband being such an active part of your blog.

      I like you idea of having a logo. That can make a difference and is a great way to continue to brand ourselves.

      Someday I’ll have one for this blog, too. 🙂

  26. Barbara — My blog has gone through the same growing pains as I have. It seems that it has changed as my own life has shifted. That said, after adding my new header, I like where my blog is right now:~)

    To be honest, I’m not very good at theme adjustments and usually ask for help regarding this. I have gotten a bit more daring and play with the widgets more now…but it still makes me nervous, especially after crashing my site once.

    There are still many changes I would like to make in time. It never fails that I will land on someone’s blog, see something they do and say, “Wow…I want to do that too!” It doesn’t mean I always do it, but I am amazed at how creative bloggers can be with their sites:~)
    .-= Check out Sara B. Healy´s awesome post: The Journey Begins: Part Two =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Sara,

      I hear you – about being nervous about making changes. When our blogs are new and readership is low (or none), it’s no big deal, but once we build up a readership, we certainly don’t want to do something that will create a crash. (been there, done that 🙁 )

      You’re right. By visiting other blogs we can get tons of ideas for our own. There is a lot of creativity in blogosphere.

  27. DebNo Gravatar says:

    Hey Barbara (and everyone else too!).

    You’ve raised some very interesting points here and one of the most difficult question for most people looking for a blog theme to answer is “Who am I?”

    I’ve designed quite a few sites for many clients, but when it comes to creating one for myself, I’m stumped! Nothing seems good enough for me. It’s so much easier for me to look at what a client wants and organize their personality and feel. (And no, trying to view myself from an outside point of view doesn’t work. Believe me, I’ve tried tricking myself into that many times.) 🙂

    I’m also the type of person that when I can’t find a premium theme that I like, I make my own. Most premium themes (themes you pay for instead of freebies) have a lot of bling most folks won’t use or don’t want. You might like the sidebar on one, or the header on another. Having a theme designed and coded from scratch is a good option, but it can be expensive. However, getting exactly what you want will save you a lot of searching, time and money in the long run.

    On the other hand, there’s a lot of themes out there and all it might take is a tweak or two to get what you want.

    Sara also brought up a very good point: You don’t have to do it all at once, either. You might have a long term vision, but breaking it down and working on it piece by piece is a very smart way to go.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Deb,

      isn’t that the way it goes? We know what’s best for clients, but when it comes down to our own, we get stumped. Maybe you’ll have to hire another designer to create yours or you could barter and do each others. 🙂

      I know premium themes can offer blogger more choices, but like you said with a tweak or two, a free theme can work just as well. The only thing I’ve found with using free themes is you have to be careful with the links the developers put in them. I’ve run into some where the footers are encrypted and some of the links lead to uncomplimentary sites.

  28. PeacefulWmn9No Gravatar says:

    Good questions. I guess I’m one who DOES love a certain amount of decorativeness or interesting “by the ways” in a blogs side bars. Too much simplicity and white space makes me think of my apartment the first time I saw it: nothing but blank white walls in every room, no furniture, etc. The overall feel was one of a chilly barreness.

    I do, however, like organization, for nothing is more frustrating than landing on a blog that is so busy your eyes hurt, or one so cluttered or disorganized that it takes forever to find anything on it.

    And as we’ve all heard dozens of times: content is king.

    I also find neon bright colors and flashing ads hard on the eyes!

    My own new projects don’t reflect me just yet, but I’ll keep tweaking them until they do. It’s part of the joy of having a blog 🙂

    Karen
    .-= Check out PeacefulWmn9´s awesome post: Do You Doodle? =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Karen,

      Your comment is a good reminder that if a blogger uses too much white space, they risk stripping all personality from their blog. If the topic of the blog is simplicity than it fits, but if not, some “decorations” will tell us more about the blogger and their personality.

      You’re right. Tweaking our blogs is half the fun of having one. After all, they are our homes in blogosphere.

  29. Cath LawsonNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barb – As you know Men With Pens created my theme and I still love it. It was the colours that drew me the most I guess. I wanted something bold – probably because my theme was so dull beforehand.

    I’m not planning to change the colours yet but as you say, there’s lots of tweaking you can do and I’m planning to spend a lot more time doing that in the coming weeks. I really need to come up with a new tagline too.

    Can’t wait until you unveil your new project – I’m curious.
    .-= Check out Cath Lawson´s awesome post: Thinking Of Immigrating? 8 Things You Should Know =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Catherine,

      I love the chrome in the header of your blog. It’s classy, and at the time you had it redone, I wasn’t seeing it used a lot.

      That will be fun tweaking your blog. I’m waiting to see what you come up with for your tagline.

      P.S. The project is moving right along. Soon…..

  30. Dennis EdellNo Gravatar says:

    Mine says I like to share as much as possible all in one place. A custom theme with plenty of “boxes” top/bottom, not to mention double sidebars (yea a widget freak at one time also).

    A brand new MUCH upgraded version of this theme will be unveiled when I finalize my blog merge-move…as it turns out I have much more to share, so I don’t currently have nearly enough “boxes” (or accordion widgets 😉 )

    One solid promise to those cringing at the moment – by sharing, I don’t mean advertisements, although there will be a couple more options there also, and navigation will be sweetly easy! Even easier then it is now.

    OK that’s two promises. 😉
    .-= Check out Dennis Edell´s awesome post: IS An Advertising Page Really A Good Idea? An Interesting Opposing View… =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Dennis,

      I know exactly what you’re saying. Sometimes it seems like we don’t have enough room on our blogs to share all we want. I know when I chose this theme I loved the fact it had an area in the footer to share more, too.

      Re: ads. I personally don’t have a problem with bloggers having ads. Knowing most of us are blogging for free, if a blogger can make a few bucks by being an affiliate, that’s great.

      In case I miss it, please do come by and let me know when you unveil your new theme. I’m anxious to see it. In the meantime, have fun. 🙂

  31. Evelyn LimNo Gravatar says:

    I have stopped changing themes ever since I bought thesis. I find that I spend way too much time in getting the look right. Sticking to a theme now allows me to focus on getting other things sorted out – like traffic or writing more articles for instance. So it is more about function and simplicity rather than going for the best look for me now!

    Blogs are like homes, nonetheless. They should convey the experience that you’d like the reader to have, when he or she pays a visit.
    .-= Check out Evelyn Lim´s awesome post: Feed has moved =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Evelyn,

      You’ve raised a good point. The more time we spend tweaking our themes, the less time we have to concentrate on our writing or other aspects of blogging. Decisions, decisions….. 🙂

      Yes. Our blogs are our cyber homes. Conveying the correct message to those landing on them is very important.

  32. RoseNo Gravatar says:

    I chose the theme I’m using because it was an SEO friendly crisp looking theme.
    .-= Check out Rose´s awesome post: Christmas Gift Ideas for Women- 2009 gift ideas =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Rose,

      Thank you for bringing that up. Having a theme that is SEO friendly is important as it makes our job behind the scenes all that much easier.

  33. ToddNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara,

    My theme is called “Perpetual Work in Progress.”

    I use Movable Type Open Source for the blog, and I don’t believe there are as many themes for MTOS as there are for WordPress, so I have just been evolving the default “no style” theme with custom CSS. The current goal right now is to reduce the page sizes for quicker load times since some of the pages weighed in at over a megabyte when displaying multiple images.

    The bottom line is that I really enjoy working with the various web technologies such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and PHP, and that is what makes it so much fun to have a blog or website.
    .-= Check out Todd´s awesome post: Indentured Sushitude =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Todd,

      That definitely works to your advantage that you know coding. I’m slowly learning CSS and am thrilled to find out all we can do with our blogs in just a few key strokes. It’s a lot of fun, isn’t it?

  34. Barbara,

    Changing and tweaking themes used to keep me awake all night, literally. In the end sheer fatigue made me stop, and the theme I’m using now is clean and simple enough that it doesn’t annoy me and make me want to change it again and again! Your post got me wondering whether it’s time for an upgrade, though probably I’ll stay put since I feel that the site is finally as “me” as an electronic page can be.
    .-= Check out Daphne @ Joyful Days´s awesome post: Can You Pack Your Life Into Two Suitcases? =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Daphne,

      Ah ha, another “sister”. 🙂 It almost gets addictive, doesn’t it?

      I like how you described a blog; as an electronic page of us. Although it can be difficult to put all of our personality into our theme, it’s those little things that make each blog unique.

  35. I didn’t realize that one has to pay for thesis and that a design could actually be SEO friendly, the latter which piqued me greatly.

    My blog’s gotten too cluttered. I need to get with my IT gal to see how to move those little blog catalog widgets to my footer. Speaking of footer, I had no idea you had ads in yours, I don’t believe I’ve ever ventured to your footer before.

    I perhaps need to fool around with my css to pad more white space to my blog.

    I am going to start show-casing photos on my blog a la dooce with Lightbox. That should be fun.

    Looking forward to your unveiling!!
    .-= Check out Jannie Funster´s awesome post: Bag Children At The Park =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Jannie,

      Yes. Unfortunately Thesis is a premium theme.

      I like your idea of using Lightbox to showcase your photos. For anyone who posts a lot of photos, it a great way to display them. I’ll watch for your upcoming changes.

  36. Hi Barbara. My blog has gone through 3 major redesigns. The first two really didn’t capture anything about who John is, instead it was a little more representative of our company and its brand. In my new design, I wanted something a little more representative of “me”.

    It’s a grunge / alternative kind of theme. I’m a musician and hard rock is in my soul. I’d like to do more, but I’m afraid of changing it too much because I don’t want to lose focus.

    I have been thinking lately on ways to add even a little bit more of “me” into my blog.
    .-= Check out John Hoff – WP Blog Host´s awesome post: 23 Kick-Ass Links From My StumbleUpon Account =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi John,

      You’re not alone. Trying to get more of us into our themes does take time. Then as we change as bloggers, or our message changes, we often feel we also need to adjust our themes.

      But isn’t it fun? With blogging we never have a chance to get bored.

  37. I keep mine clean and simple cos its about the content bit i agree that the first impression counts.

    Barbara if i may. Generally i like the heading of your blog, but the header, wow, i was shocked, to much colour.
    .-= Check out Izdelava Strani´s awesome post: CMS ali HTML tehnika izdelave spletne strani =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Izdelava,

      I was just looking at your blog and it does look great with all of the white space and simple design.

      I have to agree, my footer is pretty wild. When I first added all of the color I liked it, but now as I look at it, I realize it’s time to tone it down. 🙂

  38. ExecGiftsNo Gravatar says:

    We use Thesis on all our blogs, partly because of the clean design and because it is SEO optimized and largely because it will continually be tested, supported and upgraded as WordPress changes. Our blogs use many plugins and are complex and we don’t want them to be broken as WP and plugins change over the years.

    It has enough flexibility for every blog to look unique and enough consistency that it is easy to move between blogs effectively.
    .-= Check out ExecGifts´s awesome post: Top Selling Holiday Gift Ideas Countdown =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi ExecGifts,

      I’ve heard lots of good things about Thesis and your comment backs that up. Although I haven’t used it, I visit many blogs that do and like how personalization can make each blog unique.

  39. Personally, I think it’s time for an overhaul on my blog (the theme I’m using). I have a theme in mind and I’ll be changing it within the next week or two. I’ve always felt that a blog is an ever-changing thing (or at least it can be). In this case, it’s time for a change for the better 😉
    .-= Check out Ricardo Bueno´s awesome post: RETechSouth 2010 Registration is Open! =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Ricardo,

      I agree. Blogs are ever changing, and as we grow as bloggers, it’s inevitable the look of our blogs will change, as well.

  40. MarcusNo Gravatar says:

    well the look of a blog tells a lot of it´s creator.
    there are those people who would never use a pre-made theme and always create their unique one.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Marcus,

      That’s true. Some bloggers are so talented they can create an original theme and make a huge impression.

      Hopefully some day I’ll know enough about coding I’ll be able to do the same. 🙂

  41. For people who use their blogs for business, it’s interesting to think about whether the blog says something about the blogger or about the business.

    The answer would probably depend a lot on how effective it is make personality a visible presence in your business… and it might, of course, be “both”.
    .-= Check out Ravi@How to make quick money´s awesome post: How I Got 700 Unique Visitors Last Month? =-.

    • Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

      Hi Ravi,

      That’s a good point. I think some business blogs can do well without the author making a presence, whereas others would do better if the author shows some of their personality including trustworthiness and expertise.

  42. I always prefer to make things as simple as possible and that is the reason i have chose Thesis as the theme for blog which is well known for its simplicity..
    .-= Check out Rajesh Kanuri @ TechCats´s awesome post: Happy Blogging Year 2010 – 2010 Blogging Resolutions =-.

  43. JennNo Gravatar says:

    Barbara, I liked this post very much! I think because I was so used to the fun social networking pages I was forever enjoying the art of change and expression and discovery. Lately, I am finding that my “changes” are heading to a more “beautiful founding place” so I am hoping that before too long I will have my domain back and can take it more professionally and then keep my blogger just for building wonderful relationships and as another door into that place. I think customizing is the best for sure.. to get it just right for each person, however as frustrating as it can be sometimes to not be able to make up my mind, I know I like the more cutesy design taken to a clear professional level. lovable, but pure and simple. so that would be my theme I think. 😉 I love bird shapes, some leaves and a hint of pink but not overdone. I think it reflects the heart song we each long to sing on this love journey. 😉 thanks for letting me share my thoughts here, have a lovely day! Jenn
    .-= Check out Jenn´s awesome post: Workshop 2 of 10: Surviving Setback for The Greater Plan =-.