Tuesday, January 15, 2013

This Olde Blog II : Electric Bugaloo

A few posts ago (is it odd to measure time in "posts" instead of "days"?) I was trying to decide on a new look for the blog here. To my surprise, I not only got some comments (I'm still always surprised when someone stops by to comment), but I got some very good ones, at that. I really appreciate everyone's input and sharing their experiences in the sprucing up blogs.

A few folks suggested trying to migrate the whole shebang over to Wordpress as it seems to be a bit more flexible, style-wise. Having had a Wordpress blog for a while, I would tend to agree with them...my only issue being, I didn't want to lose the Blogger format of following people as well as it's integration with Google Plus.

Then Charmaine Clancy hit upon something simple that would, pretty much, solve most of the problems I was having with my "blah blog". She suggested keeping things simple and creating my own banner as well as utilizing more pages to organize a bit better.

So, that's what I did.

I wanted something clean, template wise, and simple....which is the majority of the Blogger templates, in my view. I chose "Picture Window" but didn't like the colors nor the background. So, I checked through the backgrounds, settling on something that I thought looked like rusty, old papyrus..."Mammuth". The slight transparency of the theme lets the background show without overpowering the text, which I liked.

Then, I started playing with the color scheme and went with the 'burnt orange' look while keeping the charcoal post background and white text...which seemed easy on the eyes. After that, I started searching for banner pictures.

I hit up Google Images and began looking for something centered around writing or left handedness, you know, trying to be clever and all......it didn't work. Most searches came up with pencils or goofy looking stock photos of a left handed figure drawing, Meh. I didn't like any of them. So, then I got the idea to try typewriters and, finally, settled on a typewriter key type theme.

A few of my early choices.....

All of these were way too big for a banner, so I took more of Charmaine's advice and checked out PicMonkey. I have to say, it was pretty easy to upload and use their picture editing software. I'd definitely recommend them to anyone looking for a free alternative to Photoshop.

Anyway, I measured my banner space and started playing a bit. I came up with dimensions that I thought looked good and tried them all out. I didn't bother with the "Corona" picture and had already eliminated it by the time I got to measuring and adjusting. The first pic was o.k, but the colors didn't blend well for me. The second and third were better, color-wise, but a bit too light for the blog title....which led to my next issue.


After trying all three, I still had a problem....the blog title wasn't very visible over the picture. I tried a lot of colors, white looked the best, but it still didn't show up as clearly as I wanted and the description was in even worse shape. This template didn't allow for adjusting much on the description. I played around some more with the pic monkey site and darkened up the second picture until the title was more clear.

I liked this and thought it melded well with the rest of the "rusty look" theme. I still had a slight problem in that the light color of the keys was blurring out part of the blog title and all of the description. Then it hit me, I made the letters bigger to where the writing sat on the dark parts between the lighter areas. Woo hoo! It worked and both blog title and description (which I had toyed with the idea of just doing away with) showed up fine.

Satisfied with all of that, I decided to implement the 'more pages' piece of advice from Charmaine and use one to make a list of links for my other social media spots. It was pretty simple to download a 200x200 logo from each and use pic monkey to make a banner. I rounded off the corners, completely, to make them look like more typewriter keys and clearing the background to have it blend in with the blog color. Easy peasy.

To clean the front page up even more, I created another page for my "Accolades" and figured it would be better to highlight my blogroll higher up on the page.

All in all, I'm pretty happy with the results and, also, I can't recommend PicMonkey highly enough. If you need to edit a few pics, it's the place to go...seriously.

Again, thanks to all those who commented with tips on the previous post and, especially, to Charmaine for her simple, yet great, ideas. It was the right way for me to go.

So, what do you think?


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Think it looks great! And yeah, wouldn't want to lose the Google Friends Connect either.
You'd said you didn't like any of the Blogger templates, so I assumed you mean the entire layout and all of it needed customizing. (Or I would've made some suggestions for headers and stuff.) But the color scheme matches the header perfectly.

Mark Means said...

Thank you, Alex :) Yes, the Google Friends Connect was one of the main things I was definitely not wanting to lose.

Ah, that's o.k, I don't think I was clear enough on what I was going for. Also, I didn't really take enough time to play around with all the alternatives either, so it was mainly a mis-communication on my part. All the input was appreciated, though :)

Suzanne Furness said...

It's looking pretty cool, Mark.

Mark Means said...

Thank you very much, Suzanne :)

Jennifer said...

This looks great. I recently did a redesign of my own blog and I wish I had known about Picmonkey then.

Mia Hayson said...

New person here so I can't really compare it to a before BUT! I do love your banner!

It's amazing what a few things here and there can do to make a blog feel really clean but still friendly. Wordpress is pretty amazing but just from experience managing other sites it is kind of confusing in some respects. I get so lost on wordpress sites sometimes. Hehe. Plus, as Alex said, can't lose the GFC!

It's not weird to count in posts instead of days. I love doing it because then we don't have to talk about how non regular my posts are.


Mark Means said...

Thanks Jennifer. Yeah, I can't recommend PicMonkey enough (have I said that enough yet?) :) It's a great tool and now you'll know for next time :)

Mark Means said...

Thank you, Mia, and welcome...thanks for adding me :)

You're right, sometimes it's just a few small things that can make all the difference.

Like others have mentioned, I like to keep it simple....like me :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...