first let me say, thank you to all who’ve submitted blogs to be critiqued thus far. at this point, this series should be going well off into the winter. holla! so without further adieu, let’s get started with this week’s first blog critique!
natural hair, beauty + lifestyle blog
having just switched from wordpress.com to wordpress.org, monet submitted her blog for critique because she has “no idea what to do as far as design.” she wants to move away from the traditional blog look to more of an editorial website layout. she also doesn’t feel as though she’s using her space efficiently and not only does she not have a color scheme, but she has no idea how to pick one. well mo, you came to the right place.
i always like to start of critiques highlighting some of the good things that a blogger has going on with their page. just because your blog may not be where you want it to be aesthetically just yet, doesn’t mean you don’t have some good things brewing. so let’s take some time to reflect on all the good that’s going on with curlsandmo.com:
+ all the images are the same width as the content. you’ll be surprised how much cleaner your blog can look if you make sure that your images fill up your content area. what this means is.. if your content area is 625px then your image width should be at least 625px. as you can see with monet’s ‘mani monday’ post, she does just that. doesn’t have a clean look?
+ there’s a consistent image for a regular series on the blog. with all blog post, its nice to have some consistency with the way you either style your text or images. for example, with all the native new yawker post you can expect to see the title, the blog URL, a likkle line.. all within an outlined box. well, i love that monet is consistent with her ‘friday’s 5 loves’. at this point, if i see ‘tiffany blue’ with the text ‘happy friday’ on it i automatically know what type of post it is and what blog it’s coming from. you can take a look here, here and here to see what i mean. readers like consistency, so kudos.
+ everything is easy to get to. want to know about mo or contact her, just look on the navigation bar. want to only read post pertaining to a specific topic, you can pick and choose within the category section located on the sidebar. when i don’t have to search for things, it makes me happy. mo makes sure that her readers stay happy.
alright, so i’ve addressed some of the awesome things monet has going on with her blog thus far now let’s look at some of her concerns & how we can address them.
i want to move from a “blog look” to a website layout.
with blogs, there’s two types of styles you can choose from.. well, actually three. there’s the traditional blog, the magazine blog and the unconventional blog. traditional blogs, much like this one or my other blog Party Over Hair, have a four structure layout. you’ll have a header, content area, sidebar and footer. with traditional blogs, you tend to have to scroll to get to the next blog posts as opposed to having several excerpts of post laid out in front of you to choose from.
a magazine blog layout is much more like that of a ‘digital newspaper’. this type of layout tends to work well for bloggers who have a variety of different topics they blog about and would like their readers to choose what they want to read as opposed to having to scroll through post. a great example of a magazine styled blog would be ebony, one of my personal favorites.
and last, you have your unconventional blogs such as tumblr blogs. the template usually dictates how post will be laid out, so it can vary.
since monet is trying to stray away from the traditional looking blog, i would recommend that she starts checking out my personal favorite place to buy themes: themeforest.net. their wordpress blogs and magazine themes are an excellent place to start searching for a template that has less of a blog feel and more of a website. most themes range around $35-45, come with documentation that shows you how to further customize your site or you can hire people like me to do it for you. to get you started, i would recommend you check these themes: buzz, magazon and supreme magazine.
i don’t have a color scheme and i have no idea how to pick one.
when you come on this blog, do you notice a color theme? sometimes.. black and white can be your color scheme, and you can throw in one more color.. red as your accent color. kinda like what i’ve been doing on this blog. whereas i’m still playing around with accent colors, the primary color theme i’ve come up with for this blog is black and white. simple and clean. sometimes when you don’t know where to start with a color scheme, start with black and white.. and figure out what color can be your accent.
wait.. what exactly is an accent color supposed to do? accent colors are colors that are used for emphasis in a color scheme. so where you’ll have black and white as your primary colors, your accent color.. let’s just say it’s red then can be the color you pick for little things like headings, links and hovers. now if you are a lover of color and want to not only learn how to use color properly, but find some great color palettes i’d recommend colourlovers and color collective. coluorlovers is a creative community where people from around the word create and share colors, palettes and patterns and color collective is a blog create as a designers’ (and bloggers’) resource for color. both are outstanding places to start to get you some inspiration for a palette.
i will be breaking down color schemes and may start posting some color moodboards for inspiration as i’ve been noticing a lot of you want to know more about color and how to properly use it. worry not, i got ya! in the meantime, check out the sites and start getting inspired.
lastly, i just want to briefly go over a few things monet can do to use her blogging space more efficiently.
+ change the typeface for your header. the current typeface you’re using makes the blog feel dated. if you’re looking for whimsical, fun typefaces i’d definitely recommend Lavanderia (free), Mission Script (free) or Insolente ($15).
+ sexy up your sidebar. instead of having a youtube module, a pinterest module, a Twitter module.. you can simply combine all those things into one. i’m a fan of creating my own buttons for the sidebar. if you don’t have photoshop, download the free trial and experiment. make rectangle buttons, pick a color and add some links such as ‘SUBSCRIBE’ or ‘TWITTER’. i just think it looks cleaner when all your social networks are within the same block and same style.
+ if you really want to get fancy, download the google webfont plugin and play around with replacing your blog titles fonts, as well as body text. PT Sans is always a great font to use as body text. you can view all the fonts google has to offer here.
+ clean up your badges. make sure all badges are centered so even though they may not be all the same size and width, at least they line up together.
the overall critique
well congrats monet, curlsandmo.com isn’t an aesthetically unpleasing blog. you have a lot of great things going on, not to mention great content. heyyyyy. there are some things quick little things you can do to start changing the look of the blog such as changing your header typeface and maybe adding in some custom social links to the sidebar. that will really help you start to utilize your sidebar a little better than what you have now. also, throw a picture up why don’t you?! we want to see that beautiful face!
at the current time it doesn’t bother me that you don’t really have a color scheme, as you’ve been consistent with black & white and letting your photos add the color. but i would definitely recommend you check out the sites and start finding colors you like. or you can always start with your ‘happy friday’ image as those three colors alone make a pretty nice color theme.
for the long run, i would definitely start looking at templates on themeforest.net as you want to eventually shift from the traditional blog look to a more magazine styled blog. if you have any questions, comments or concerns as always i’m here, just shoot me an email!
that about wraps it up for this week’s blog critique. monet, i hope i helped you with some of your issues today and would love to see where you take it from here!
if you would like to submit your blog for critique, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, blog URL, type of blog and why you think you need a blog critique.