A little over a week ago, I realized just how much I hated my blog. I then made sure the rest of the world did, too.
I think I’ve known for awhile, but when I just could not install social sharing icons at the bottom of my post despite trying a number of different widgets, I realized my current theme had to go. I last redesigned my blog in 2009 and obviously, the times have changed. Visiting this blog was a terrible user experience. It annoyed me to no end that the theme did not enable photo captioning (hence the lame italicized captions in brackets I placed underneath photos.)
And as a social media manager, it was embarrassing that my blog practiced literally nothing of what I preached.
I was also using my blog as my final assignment in an NYU class I took called SEO & Site Content. That class motivated me to stop being so lazy and do something about my website. It also motivated me to choose a tagline that explained what my site is about and update my About page so people would stop being so fucking confused all the time about the name “Dori’s Shiny Blog.” I also added a page i wanted for a long time: Race Recaps .
Plus, the entire look pissed me off. I needed a change.
I reached out to two designers who work with other bloggers, and one responded. We scheduled a phone call and about 45 minutes before the call I freaked out and canceled.
I realized I had no reason not to do this myself.
I know how to install a theme. I know how to use the Theme Test Drive plugin. I know how to customize a good theme to the best of my ability. I know how to install plugins and widgets. I know exactly what I want. Why would I pay someone to do something I could — and SHOULD — do myself. That is my job, after all!
Over Thanksgiving weekend, I started my blog redesign. I have to say, finding a good theme that met all my requirements seemed impossible. Part of the reason is that the themes are not organized. I wish there was a filter where I could select all the elements I wanted in a theme to narrow my search down, but that doesn’t exist.
I bought a theme we use at work thinking it was good. Once I had it, I realized it was an impossibly complicated theme and I didn’t understand how to customize it. My brilliant software development engineer brother even found it complicated. Also, it made my blog look like work, and no one likes to be reminded of work.
I wasted many hours trying to customize that theme before giving up and moving on. After installing and despising a number of themes, I finally found one that seemed pretty good – but not great. But they had a sale going on to upgrade to the paid version for $20, down from the full price of $80. I got the feeling that the upgrade would fix most of the issues I had with the free version so I went for it.
I’m happy I did because you’re now looking at this theme!
Once I had this set up, getting in my widgets was very easy and much less time consuming than that old atrocious theme. If you ever saw the random floating “ Tweet ” link at the bottom of my posts, that is because that link was the best thing my old theme could do with a social sharing widget. Not exaggerating.
I included widgets that I really like, such as the Popular Posts and . I especially love the previous four posts that appear under the most recent post, and I am a huge fan of the footer widget section. Plus, there are some really great features I haven’t even played with yet, like sliding images and carousel images that link to my posts.
But for now, I’m happy with the start I made. Many people think my computer scientist brother did this for me, but aside from receiving countless frantic emails from me about all the things I don’t know how to do (which were always followed up with a “Nevermind – I figured it out!” email), all he really did was offer advice and implement the color hover in the top nav bar.
I have more work to do (the search functionality isn’t quite right yet and I am unable to upload and post photos… I had to upload that Tweet photo to another site and insert the picture URL to get it to show here, oy) but I am already so much happier with the look and functionality of my blog!
Of course, one key element was still missing: a new logo.
I reached out to the amazing designers we work with at the office, Bruckner Design , and asked if they had time to take on this personal project for me, along with how much it might cost. They are amazing, both as designers and as people. They offered to design my logo, favicon and select a complementary background color at no charge.
I was so touched and happy.
While I waited for the logo to be done, my current blog theme looked extremely messed up. I was using the Theme Test Drive, but any widgets I changed and added would still show on the live blog. My ads disappeared and the entire right side of the page, where the widgets lived, looked like a mess. Also, I formatted my most recent post at the time ( Richmond Half Marathon recap ) to fit with the new theme. That meant the post looked really messy in the old theme, and that is what people were seeing. I prayed no one went to my blog last week and avoided most types of link sharing or promotion.
A few days later, my designer let me know she finished my logo. . . and I love it! I knew she would understand what I wanted, and she did a really perfect job. I’m still constantly enthralled by how she got the favicon to look so SHINY.
Miracle workers! I am so happy with my new logo, the look and functionality of the site ,and the possibility of ways I can make it even better.
I think/hope this fresh new change will inspire me to blog more often and blog better. I have a lot I want to write about in the coming weeks (Andy and I started CrossFit Fundamentals , I’ve been spinning more often, Refine Method became more awesome than ever but I can only get there on weekends right now, wedding planning, etc) and I’m much more excited to do so with the new theme!
A few things to leave you with:
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