Thursday Thought: Blog Design

Posted on Oct 3, 2013 in Discussion, Thursday Thought | 39 comments

THURSDAY THOUGHTThis Week We Talk About:

blogdesignSo, I am by literally, NO MEANS a designer, but I have created my design for this blog on my own.  I made the header, and while I HAVE had some help with coding from the likes of Judith and Ashley [whom without which, I’d be lost!] the design in and of itself is all me.

I don’t have the MOST GORGEOUS blog on the block, but I will say that am I proud of the design that I do have, as of right now.  I’m always, always tweaking but for right now I am content.  But here are the questions I have for you…

blogdesigndoyoudesignSome of the most gorgeous sites I have seen are made by the blog owners themselves.  I’m looking at you- Judith, Ashley, Debby and Rachel! I can’t get over how talented they are, and I want to know who else has design skilllzzz up the wazoo and has created their design all on their own.

Even if you haven’t created your own design, who has made a default template their own and just customized a little to give their blog a whole new look?  Recently, Gaby of Ella Bee Reads redid her blog a bit and I truly love what she’s done and I can even see her growth with her graphics!

Or Maybe..

Design isn’t that important to you.  You don’t really care, as long as you have the content you figure its all good.  Well, here’s my teeny confession…

I’m a design snob.

Whatever, I openly admit this. Therefore, if your design is not nice, it takes a LOT to keep me coming back.  But there are cases in which this happens, because I will NOT forget what my first design ever looked like, and that Loretta had to be like, yo, you can’t have neon text and a dark background Cass.  

So hey, I know all about the learning curve, baby!


blogdesigndoyouhireAgain, some amazingly phenomenal blogs have progessional designers behind them.  Case in point: Rather Be Reading, probably my favorite blog design EVER.  Also, Lit Up Reviews, That’s What She Read , Pop Goes the Reader, Novel Sounds and I Swim For Oceans have been perfected by designers.  And they are all [in my opinion] gorgeous.

There’s also templates like the ones that Lauren and Hannah have made their own, and I love those both as well.

Who has hired a designer? How much have you spent? [if you’re okay with telling me, of course!]  I got to admit, I have considered hiring a designer but the cost is my biggest concern.

What are some of YOUR favorite blog designs/designers?  Do you not care about design?  How much of your blog do you design?

And for GRAPHICS, what do you guys use?

I must know! My go tos are Photo Filtre and with a dash of StudioFX thrown in!

THURS THOUGHT:What We Don't Talk About..DNF-ing


  1. I put my blog design together. I had just a smug help with the navagation bar from my friend who has a degree in web. My degree is multi media but I didn’t practice web or grasp it as well as others.
    I’m happy with mine for now. I might tweek it in the future.

    I’m a design snob too. No worries there. I try to remember before I went to school I wasn’t that great either.
    Sometimes I want to be lazy and shell out the money and have someone else do my design. Just so its perfect.
    Johannah Doll recently posted…Blog Interview #2My Profile

    • I agree with the wanting to be lazy portion! hehehhe

  2. I’ll be the first to admit that a blog’s design is extremely important to me, both on my own blog as well as the ones I choose to follow. Humans are visual creatures by nature and there’s no denying that a pleasing, easy to navigate layout will be more likely to attract attention, no matter what the content. While the latter is obviously also extremely important, I knew that Pop! Goes The Reader’s design would be of utmost importance when I first decided to launch my book blog.

    While I do have a fundamental understanding of Photoshop, HTML, etc, I chose to hire a professional to design and code my layout because I knew I wanted a polished, professional look, which was something I knew I couldn’t accomplish on my own. I employed the services of Cindy Pepper and I couldn’t have been happier with the end result! :) It was a collaborative process and I greatly appreciated that Cindy took my preferences into account in regards to the layout, colour scheme, illustration, etc. I feel as though it was perfectly tailored to my needs and was better than I ever could have imagined. While the cost of the layout design and coding could hardly be considered ‘cheap’, I see it as an investment in Pop! Goes The Reader’s future as I have no plans to change it again in the foreseeable future.
    Jen @ Pop! Goes The Reader recently posted…Waiting On…These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan SpoonerMy Profile

    • I LOVE YOUR BLOG DESIGN JEN! UGH I need to add you to this post, I ADORE IT!

      And that’s so cool that she worked with you all the way through!

      I agree about the investment portion!

  3. I am jealous of your/anyone’s design SKILLZ because I have like NONE. I always admire people who have pretty blogs and incorporate their own graphics because I have NO IDEA HOW.

    My blog design was created custom a few years ago by a friend who wanted to build his portfolio. I loved it for a long time, but NOW we’re looking at updating it considerably and I’m paying him… but we haven’t fine-tuned the price just yet lol.
    Jen @ Almost Grown-up recently posted…Inaccurate Realities Cover Reveal!My Profile

    • Aww thanks Jen!

      Its honestly easier than you’d expect [the graphic part at least] Cool fonts go a LONG WAY.

      And thats awesome that the first one was free for you, but now you get to pick exactly what you want this time which is cool too!!

  4. Please,would you make me the honor to design my blog??
    Savvina recently posted…The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa Official book trailerMy Profile

    • I don’t do designs, I’m sorry Savvina! I designed my own but I don’t do professional design!

  5. I’m bad. I have just used a basic template on WordPress and really have left it alone. There’s a crazy background and I make some graphics for my blog, but meh. I am just have no desire to try anything on my own! And then add in the cost factor for hiring a designer… Eek! The only designer I have ever really been interested in cost around $300 and there’s no way I could dish that kind of money.

    So based on my own blog, I sort of just expect the blog to be legible. Make it so I can read it and it doesn’t have too many things in the sidebar or anything like that. If it’s a basic template or simple design beyond that, I’m good!
    Asti (A Bookish Heart) recently posted…Bookish Finds: Alexander Korzer-Robinson’s Cut Book WorksMy Profile

    • Simple + fits your needs is nothing to be sorry about 😉

  6. I’m with you: if a blog’s design turns me off, it takes a lot to interest me into visiting it a second time. I’m a design, color, and font snob, and when things just don’t work, I get annoyed.

    Anyway, so my blog design I guess fall somewhere in the middle? I didn’t create my template fro mscratch, but I did take an existing template and tweak it to make it look exactly how I want it to look! I love this because it really does make the blog feel much more MINE.

    For a long time I was using an adorable theme, but I hadn’t really personalized it. Now when I see a blog using that theme, it’s kind of jarring and disorienting for a few seconds! It’s just so weird to see something so familiar on someone ELSE’s website!
    Kelley (Another Novel Read) recently posted…Review: You Are Mine by Janeal FalorMy Profile

    • I love your design, girl! So it totally works for you but I could only IMAGINE seeing the same thing elsewhere!!

  7. I’m a design snob too, and like you, a poor design will turn me off from visiting a blog a second time around. But I try to remember that not everyone has experience with designing or HTML/CSS. Hell, even though I’ve designed and coded my own blog, I know that my skills are nothing like the professional designers. So mostly, all I ask for is that the blog is legible and uncluttered. A bit of personality is nice too, which I think is something easy to add even using a basic Blogger or WordPress template.

    I wouldn’t ever judge a blogger for not using professional designers, though. They’re expensive, and I don’t know their financial situations and whether or not they have the spare cash available. A professional design is something I would be interested in for my own blog at some point in the future, because like Jen I believe it’s an investment in my blog, but I need to be sure blogging is something I will stick with first, and I need to ensure I am financially secure enough to allow it.
    Nikki @ The Paper Sea recently posted…Book Review: One Tiny LieMy Profile

    • Defintely wouldn’t judge, EVER for non professional design. Mine isn’t, for sure!

      I love that you have knowledge with HTML/CSS I think its so great to have!

  8. oh my gosh. i would looove to have my blog professionally designed!! you know i use which doesn’t give much freedom at all. unfortunately i don’t have the time to figure out design on my own even if i did switch to .org. i barely have time to blog in general. plus– don’t have the money to do it! i’m still a newbie though, only about 8 months into blogging. if i decide to stick with it, hiring someone to make it pretty, or at least switching to .org and purchasing a template is something i’d definitely consider for sure!

    i love pretty blogs. sometimes i just sit there and stare at them…. and think… WOW. This looks awesome. hahaha

    I will say though— it drives me nuts to see a pretty blog and have high expectations, only to find crappy content! I think content is #1. Blogs that have both are amaaazing!!!

    although– hahhaha thinking back to when i almost switched to 2 columns– then said hell no even though you thought it was better… its obvious that I go with what I LIKE over what others might. psssssh. hope people don’t hate on me for it. 😉
    Betty recently posted…Random Rantings: Some Books Make Me Want to VOMMy Profile

    • I know all about this! I think your blog looks good as is, nice header 😉

      And yeh yeah yeah on 2 column vs 3!

      I think professional design is a huge investment, so thats why I won’t [personally] do it, but if blogging is something you’re gonna do for a WHILE, I say its totally worth it!

  9. I’m honestly of the opinion that as a blogger, tastes should develop overtime. Having said that when I started blogging, I wanted to do the customization all by myself. I learned the little tidbit over time and kept tweaking my blog until it satisfied me completely. I knew I was eventually going to go for a simple and sleek design that not only looks great but also reflects my personality or at least something about me.

    For a few months now I’ve been working on customizing a template to my liking. I’ve come to admire the use of different textures and realize the importance of color palettes. I’m definitely going for a minimal look this time. I’ve really come to love blogs that utilize minimalism. Judith’s blog is a perfect example of that.

    So yes, I just really feel that if a perfectionist like me is taking the time out to blog, I should also take the time out to make my blog look how I want it to. I’ve recently started learning Photoshop and I really hope that I can make the best use of it when it comes to blogging.
    Sana @ artsy musings of a bibliophile recently posted…Say Hello to Horror OctoberMy Profile

    • Agreed! Perfectionism means we need to figure out exactly how we want our blog to appear!


  10. While I endure reading blogs with crazy sidebars and fonts that make me cringe for the good content, I like visiting pretty blogs better! I feel like total snob for saying that but that’s just how it is. I love all the blogs you mentioned and they’re all totally on my list of must-visit blogs!

    I know Georgie of What She Reads designed her blog theme and I find it lovely! I think Nikki of The Paper Sea designed her own too! I actually worked on my blog by myself as well but in no way can it match all them pretty blogs out there! My basic knowledge of css and html + experience with photoshop has been really helpful though! I’m satisfied with what I have now but if I had money, I’d hire a designer in a heart beat. :)

    Great post, Cass!!! 😀
    Hazel @ Stay Bookish recently posted…Review: The Rule Of Thirds By Chantel GuertinMy Profile

    • Your blog is gorgeous too, Hazel!

      And I must check out the others that you mentioned!!

  11. I do my blog reading through a reader, so I don’t really care about blog design. When I go to comment, sometimes I’m…less than pleasantly surprised haha. But sometimes I’m completely blown away by how awesome people’s blogs are.
    I use, and I’m not incredibly invested in my blog design but I also lack the skills/funds to change it. Like Betty, I think if I made the switch to .org and really committed to my blog I would eventually want to make the time or monetary investment into making it look exactly how I want – but right now I’m not at that place.
    An example of my lack of skills: I just figured out how to make images with writing on them in picmonkey and WOW do I hate that. I’ve got to take a weekend to make all the ones I need and then just never do it again I think.
    Justine @ paperback heart recently posted…ARC Review: Rule of ThirdsMy Profile

    • Totally understandable! Everything takes time, and I’ve actually just come to enjoy making graphics! Its not for everyone though because it can be SO tedious!

  12. I’m a bit of a design snob when it comes to blogs I follow. I need a blog to look pretty to follow it (and have great content of course). If it’s not easy to read or just too much going on I won’t follow. It’s taken a long time to learn the basics, which I didn’t even think about before starting a blog. But I’m proud to say I have created all the graphics on my site. I’ve thought about buying a pre-made template, but I how mine looks, and I’m also too cheap to pay for one or switch to For now I like that blogger you can customize a lot of stuff as I’m constantly changing how it looks.
    Ashley @ The Book Addict’s Ramblings recently posted…The Road to You by Marilyn Brant Author Interview + GiveawayMy Profile

    • Ashley, totalllly understand! And I like how your blog looks now, FYI!

      Blogger definitely offers lots of customization options [I started there!] And some people may choose to even stay! It has more than I realized it did!

  13. You’re so freaking sweet, girl! Thanks for the mention <3

    I'm definitely a design snob. Having a great looking design is going to make me more inclined to subscribe to your blog. I mean, if you don't have a good blog design but have amazing posts, I probably will still subscribe… but, if you have an awesome design I'm more likely to visit your blog every day to read your posts (as opposed to just reading them in the email/reader).
    Ashley recently posted…BBB Question: What Are WordPress Pingbacks?My Profile

    • Oh please, Ash! You’ve helped me so much even in just giving me feedback! So, my pleasure 😉 <3

      And YES I agree. Great content still gets a subscribe from me, but Good design makes me WANT to go visit as well!

  14. I am new to blogging, just over a month in and this is something I am really struggling with. I am currently using a generic Blogger background whilst I attempt to design/make my own.
    After reading and watching many tutorials for it I am still struggling!!! I have no clue what I am doing and feel completely lost. When I go on to other blogs, like this one, and see all the amazing designs, graphics, backgrounds, I am blown away. I don’t even know where to begin.
    It’s something that I hope will just take time and patience and that I will get there eventually. I really think design is important and I worry that my shoddy blog layout will put people off.
    But I do believe it is important and so I will put all the time and effort into learning how to design. Even if, so far, I am proving to be pretty rubbish at it!
    I am new to blogging, just over a month in and this is something I am really struggling with. I am currently using a generic Blogger background whilst I attempt to design/make my own.
    After reading and watching many tutorials for it I am still struggling!!! I have no clue what I am doing and feel completely lost. When I go on to other blogs, like this one, and see all the amazing designs, graphics, backgrounds, I am blown away. I don’t even know where to begin.
    It’s something that I hope will just take time and patience and that I will get there eventually. I really think design is important and I worry that my shoddy blog layout will put people off.
    But I do believe it is important and so I will put all the time and effort into learning how to design. Even if, so far, I am proving to be pretty rubbish at it!
    I would love any suggestions on how to do it and what programs are good. Someone suggested using Gimp or PicMonkey and I am currently attempting and struggling with both.
    Reviews from a Bookworm recently posted…W… W… W… #1My Profile

  15. Yup, I’m a design snob. Blog designs are usually the first thing that catches my attention (before reading the content in somebody’s blog). If I don’t like it, then I won’t come back. It irks me when designs aren’t personalized or is very cluttered. I’m a big fan of simplicity. You can do a lot with a white background if you have little personalized things like a header, meme images, or border images. I like when the personality of the person oozes from the blog design and from the blog posts!

    I’m incredibly jealous of people who can design their layouts. I don’t have a lot of money to hire a designer nor do I have the skills to give my blog design a full-on facelift. Despite that, I’ve managed to create images I love. I designed my header, which was a very tedious task because I’m a perfectionist. I have to love it or I won’t use it. I use the WordPress templates and tweak it until I love it. I don’t know CSS codes or anything so I just play around with it until I get something right. My current layout is completely different from what it originally looked like (it was very stilted and impersonal). I do want to more professional design, but in the mean time, I’m pretty happy with my blog design.
    Cee recently posted…JUDG(ING) A BOOK BY ITS COVER | Changes in The Raven Boys by Maggie StiefvaterMy Profile

  16. I used the Tweak Me theme from Ashley and made the graphics for my header and background and stuff myself. =) I’m pretty happy with it now. I get tons of help from Ashley when I need help with coding stuff, but her theme is really customizable and the UBB plugin is priceless. So for now, I’m content with the design I have. Do others like it too? I don’t know, but I hope so.
    Bieke @ Istyria book blog recently posted…Review: Indelible by Dawn MetcalfMy Profile

  17. I first got a design made by Meg (from the no longer existing Ink skies) and when I wanted to try something else, I went for it and adjusted everything on my own. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out 😀 It’s by far from perfect, but that’s fine. I’m not a designer and I honestly don’t care enough to learn to understand ever HTML thing :p
    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted…Review 202. Lauren Oliver – Requiem.My Profile

  18. A blogging buddy started up a design business and offered a contest for a blog makeover — and I won! I was just starting out, and definitely wouldn’t have spent the money on designing my blog, but I was happy to have something more than just the basic blogger template :)

    But I am super in awe of your design skills! I always wish I knew how to do the fancy graphics that you put into your posts — you do have skillzzzzzz 😉

  19. I’ve thought about hiring a designer in the past, but my reluctance always comes down to money. I use a paid theme from Theme Forest called Verb, and I customized it with my own graphics. I can do small stuff because my day job is graphic designer, but I don’t have the coding experience to do anything major. Maybe someday.
    Abria @ Read. Write. Discuss. recently posted…The Cost of ARCsMy Profile

  20. Design is very important to me and I have to admit that when a blog has a nicer design, I am ten times more inclined to give their blog a follow. I try not to be biased but I can’t help it!

    I have thought of hiring a designer but ultimately, I think I would want to learn to create my own design. There are so many resources out there which makes me think that if it were something I really wanted to do, it wouldn’t be too hard to learn.

    Right now, I’m rather happy with my freebie blog background but I hope one day I’ll be able to make my own!
    Annie recently posted…The Random Reads TeamMy Profile

  21. I love a good blog design, and have been known not to follow a blog where the design is really bad. I think in a time where there are a lot of good free themes for the blogging platforms to can be used a truly horrific layout is avoidable. However, I am conscious this could make me shallow and I should care about content not appearance.

    If I could afford a designer I would definitely go with one, for now I have played around with a free wordpress theme and altered the bits I can manage without ruining the theme.
    Alice recently posted…I grew up in the 90s – the Dancing BabyMy Profile

  22. I hired someone to do my design (but she’s out of the design business now because she got a job teaching kindergarten <3), and we purchased my graphics from istock! Picking out my graphics was a lot of fun actually since istock has an excellent selection of illustrations and then my designer tweaked things and made everything fit together quite well. I recently had a bit of a facelift for the blog from a different designer (who I wouldn't recommend, it wasn't a great experience), so all told I've spent about $600 over the course of two years. Yup, it's a lot, it was two summer presents to myself.
    Anya recently posted…What Faction Would You Be? (+ Int’l Giveaway!)My Profile

  23. Awww, thank you so much for mentioning me! :3 I’m all flattered now. Design is pretty hard and it is so time consuming, but there’s definitely a learning curve, and I think it’s so worth it to invest that time. Layouts are darn important, because that is the first impression you give to your blog visitors. I honestly have some blogs where I like open the webpage, cringe, and then close it again. If it looks too cluttered or messy, I’ll take the blog less seriously. That’s… probably bad, but I can’t help it.

    I am planning to move to WordPress soon and it terrifies the hell out of me because I’ll almost have to start from scratch as far as my design goes… x_x oh god. But still, it is fun too, and usually once I start a design, I get completely absorbed in it, and just won’t do ANYTHING else until it’s done. Haha. So we’ll see how that goes.

    For graphics I use Photoshop, Photoshop, Photoshop. It is my love xD
    Debby (Snuggly Oranges) recently posted…Book Review: Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCaffertyMy Profile

  24. Hey!
    I think blog design is so important, I am a bit of a blog design snob too :) If a person’s blog doesn’t look particularly great when I click on I won’t stick around for long, as bad as that may sound. I made my blog header myself too and take pride in having done that without asking for a professional blog designer to help :)

    Charlotte Harrison recently posted…Feature Fridays! (a rant, too)My Profile

  25. Design is SUPER important to me. I always want my blog to look better or different, but I also don’t really want to shell out the cash to make it better or different – mostly because I feel like I could do it myself if I put my mind to it, but also because of cost.

    Right now I really like how my blog looks, but I depending on whether or not I end up moving to WordPress, I might spend the money. WE SHALL SEE.
    Gaby @ Queen Ella Bee Reads recently posted…Top Ten Books I Was Forced to Read Due to FOMO (36)My Profile

  26. Design is super important to me! If a blog is pretty and easy to navigate/read then I will definitely come back!

    I’m lucky because I used to design websites, so I learned HTML/CSS when I was a teenager and while I’m not able to fully customise WordPress, I can do little tweaks here and there.

    My favourite programs are definitely Photoshop. It’s a real must have for creating pretty graphics! :)
    Daphne @ Winged Reviews recently posted…Across the Pond Blogoversary Day 4: Susan Dennard and Tom PollockMy Profile


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