As you already know, our blog was recently re-designed by the team at WebDevStudios. We absolutely love the design, and I thought it would be interesting to hear about the process from the designer’s point of view – how they go about doing a blog redesign and perhaps some tips/tricks for those of you reconsidering a new brand for your blog. I chatted with WebDevStudios co-founder Brad Williams, who spearheaded our redesign:
How often do you suggest someone change his/her blog template/theme/layout?
The best time to make changes to your design is when you feel the current theme and layout are no longer meeting your needs. Many people come to us because their blog has grown and their current website is no longer providing them with all the functionality they need or the current setup is confusing to their audience.
Another great time to change your design is when you are looking to rebrand your website. This seems to be more common for company websites, but perhaps your client started as a food blogger but wants to expand to become more of a travel blogger who also talks about food. A redesign is a great time to change your focus and give your website a new look at the same time.
Having a stable website is important for your audience so we don’t recommend making major changes too often.
Is there anything that a blogger/blog owner should do before initiating a blog redesign?
It isn’t always easy to see the finished product. Many people come to us completely overwhelmed because they think they need to tell us exactly what they want the new design to look like, how the website is set up, what features they need, etc. This isn’t necessarily true. One of the most helpful things a client can provide us with is a list of likes and dislikes. This can be as simple as picking features or designs or even color schemes off of already existing websites. Find your favorite websites, the ones you go to almost every day. What is it about that website you like? What brings you back time and time again?
What are the pros/cons of using pre-existing blog templates/themes?
The pros of using a pre-existing template or theme is that the groundwork is already set for you. If you are just starting out with theme design, pre-existing themes are great for learning the structure and requirements of a theme.
However, the downfall with using pre-existing themes is having to learn someone else’s code and then fit it to the new style. There are even times where the code can be old and not utilizing newer methods of coding. Creating your own themes gives you the advantage of having a theme, knowing exactly what everything does and that it include all of the functionality you require. You know the theme inside and out because you are the one who made it.
When you begin working with a client, what steps do you take to give them a preliminary design? Do you try to get a sense of their business, their favorite websites, etc?
The first step is holding a call with the client and one of our designers to understand what the client wants and how they want to get there. We discuss what the website is, who their audience is (intended or current), what their focus is, any features they want included, how they want the menu set up, and what they like or dislike from websites that are already out there. It’s just as important to understand the ideas behind the website and goal of the website as it is to understand just what the client wants it to look like.
How long does it typically take to complete a blog design and implementation?
This can vary significantly based on the specific project. For a basic blog we generally estimate 4-6 weeks of development time depending on the amount of time it takes the client to provide us with content and sign off on each stage of the project.
Do you have any advice for someone interested in getting into the business of designing blogs and blog themes?
I think one of the most important things is to stay current on the technologies you are using. You want to be able to provide your client with the most up-to-date technology. You also don’t want to end up doing more work than necessary because you didn’t know some new feature already exists. There’s always something new being created and it important to keep on top of everything out there.
Anything else you’d like to share about the process or business?
As with any business it’s not always easy to work with clients. This is especially true when you are a designer and may become attached to your designs. My advice to anyone looking to get into the business of designing blogs is to learn how to focus on the needs of the client and always keep that the end goal. Some clients are very specific as to what they want, others will give you complete creative control. You can give advice and suggestions, but at the end of the day it’s the client’s opinion that matters most.
Thanks again to the WebDevStudios team!