In case you’re not aware of this, but I am undergoing a full custom re-design of my blog. I absolutely LOVE the new look and the work my designer has done so far. I can’t stop looking at it. I also have a logo to go with my blog and no, it doesn’t involve pigs or bacon. 🙂 I’m so excited to show you guys when it’s done. It looks completely different from what I have now and a million times better.
The Evolution of My Blog
Like practically every blogger when they first start, I used free WordPress themes. Despite the fact that there is a quite a selection to choose from, I came across blogs that had the same theme as mine. Not a really big deal when you’re starting off, but I wanted something that would make the blog look a bit more clean and polished. I had toyed with the idea of having someone design my blog early on, but was hesitant about paying a lot of money for it.
A couple of years ago, I decided to fork over about $100 and purchase a WordPress theme + Genesis framework from Studiopress. I played around with the layout and colours. I know I could have customized the site myself even more with a plugin, time, patience and persistence, but I felt I would eventually want something more unique. I find website design very interesting, but I’m not sure I have the artistic intuitive to take the look of my blog to an entirely different level.
The Pre-Design Stage
Hence, bring in the professionals. I got the word out on Twitter, saying that I was looking for someone to re-design my blog. I received a lot of replies via tweets and email. Blog design is a personal thing. While the majority of the design portfolios I saw were professional and well-done, they weren’t what I was looking for in my blog. So the search continued. I did a lot of googling and more portfolio viewing. I contacted the designers whose portfolios I liked the best. This never crossed my mind but depending on how many projects they have going on and clients they have, designers can book up fast. I didn’t have a specific timeline as to when I would need the design done though.
If you had asked me at the start of my blogging career how much I would pay for a custom blog design, I probably would have said something along the lines of a few hundred dollars. When I was seriously considering the re-design to be a possibility, I gave myself an initial budget of $1500-$2000. Custom design work on websites isn’t cheap. If you want good quality, you have to pay a LOT for it. I’m not going to lie, I paid a lot more than what I set out my initial budget to be. Given that I did a drastic change in careers, took a huge pay cut and got married in a span of three months and was now going to drop a few thousand dollars on a blog re-design, I was definitely nervous about it to say the least.
I suppose I really want 2015 to be a year to remember
The Blog Design Phase- Currently a Work in Progress
I asked the potential designer I would be working with a ton of questions prior to purchasing. She responded quickly and with a lot of detail. The fact that she had quite the extensive portfolio and had experience designing sites on the Genesis framework reaffirmed my decision to go with her. After purchasing the package, I filled out a questionnaire to help her give a better idea as to what the vision for my blog was. To be honest, I didn’t have a vision. All I knew was that I wanted my blog to look more eye-catching to the reader.
The questionnaire ended up taking much longer to complete than I imagined. To properly answer the questionnaire, I studied the design and layout of blogs I liked. I read a bunch of articles on site design, the various types of layouts and the pros and cons of those layouts. I tried to think about what colours and fonts would work well from a visual standpoint.
At first glance of the demo, everything looks amazing and for the most part it is. However, since I am spending a small fortune on it, I am trying to go through the entire site with a fine toothed comb. It took me a couple of hours the first time around and then it took me some time to write up the comments about the minor changes I wanted. I’m going through it a second time around with a few more comments.
Aside from taking a lot of my money, it’s taking up a lot of my time and I’m not even designing the site! I thought I wouldn’t have to do that much work. Yet my blog is very important to me and represents who I am, so of course, I will put in the effort needed on my part to help create the look of a blog I can be proud of.
UPDATE: Heather Jones of Viva La Violet has started a referral program for past clients. If you would like to work with her, please mention my name and MakintheBacon. That would be greatly appreciated. 🙂
Would you ever consider spending a small fortune on site design? Why or why not? Has your site ever had custom work done on it? What was it like going through the design process?