Tips For Doing A Blog Makeover

Fantastic news! Our Getting More Out of Widgets! post inspired community members to make adjustments or add extra widgets to their blog, plus motivated some to do “blog makeovers”.

Larry Ferlazzo suggested

Here in the U.S there’s a popular TV show where producers go into someone’s home, and completely redo a room. Crazy idea, I know, but it might be fun for you to offer to do that to a blog and as a teaching tool for the rest of us.

What an excellent idea Larry and here’s the best news!

As you asked for assistance, we choose your blog for the makeover and will be writing a series of posts on Larry Ferlazzo’s Website of the Day “Blog Makeover” to share blog design tips and additional info for customizing widgets.

But before we begin– Gail Desler, from Blogwalker blog, has shared with us her excellent Introductory manual for using Edublogs which is definitely worth bookmarking for future reference! Make time to go past Gail’s blog and write a comment to thank her for sharing!

Importance of Your Blog’s Presentation Theme

Your blog has two distinct groups of readers:

  • Those that subscribe to your blog via RSS feed or email;
  • and first time readers who view your blog via it’s web address.

It’s these first time readers we want to engage and get to subscribe to our blog. Unfortunate fact of life, we do judge a book by it’s cover! People are more likely to both read your posts and subscribe to your blog if it’s pleasing to their eyes.

Watch this video to learn how to change your blog theme or refer to page 12 & 13 of Gail’s Introductory Manual to Edublogs (other manuals for Getting Started with Edublogs are located on this page).

Larry’s Original Theme

originaltheme.jpgFor those unfamiliar with Larry Ferlazzo’s Website of the Day — Larry’s well known and very popular for sharing great information on websites for teaching ELL, ESL and EFL. His original theme was Batavia 1.5.

Nice simple theme but the beige background behind the text in his posts detracted from the great content he was sharing. Made worse by his long blog name that cluttered his blog header.

original2.jpg

Larry’s Next Theme

Larry had already decided that there was better themes for his blog and was trailing them before we offered our assistance.

copyblogger1.jpg

But there was two main problems with the new Copyblogger theme:

  1. His long blog name was totally overwhelming the blog header. Solution was to shorten his blog name and use a theme that included a tagline!
  2. Too many page links displayed along the top of his blog was making it cluttered and messy. Answer lies with Pages, Sub-pages and a widget.

Why Blogs have Taglines

The concept behind a blog tagline is to create a memorable phrase that sums up the tone and premise of a blog. Ideally all blogs should have a tagline since they instantly tell first time readers what your blogs all about and whether you write posts in topic areas that interest them.

Unfortunately not all blog themes include a tagline however a work around, if you’re good with Photoshop, is to use a theme with a customisable header and add the tagline to the image in the header e.g. check out the header on my personal blog and Graham Wegner’s Teaching Generation Z blog.

tagline1.jpg

With Larry we changed his blog name from Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day for Teaching ELL, ESL & EFL to Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day… and added the tagline … .For Teaching ELL, ESL & EFL.

Larry’s New Theme gloriousdays.jpg

He also decided to change from the theme Copyblogger but couldn’t choose between Glorious Day or Glossy Blue.

The trouble with themes is each has their advantages and disadvantages. Both the new themes included taglines but the background colour behind the text and the text styles was easier to read with Glorious Day.

Why Blogs Have Pages

Edublogs, because it uses WordPress, has the definite advantages of being able to customize and reduce blog clutter considerably more than Blogger blogs. Clutter distracts readers making them less inclined to subscribe to your blog. One of the best ways to reduce clutter is to use pages.

Pages, are similar to posts, except they can do more than a post. You normally use pages when you want to present information about yourself or your blog that you always want readers to be easily able to access. Examples of pages on this blog are: About; What you’d like to see covered; and Want Automatic Notification.  For more information, read the differences between pages and posts.

Pages can also be organised into Sub-pages within your pages, creating a hierarchy of pages. For blog themes that display pages along the top, this is a great way of controlling what pages are displayed as only those with no parent are displayed. The Want Automatic Notification is located on a sub-page below the About page.

This video explains how to write posts and pages or refer to page 7 & 8 of Gail’s Introductory Manual to Edublogs.

Larry’s New Look

Below is what Larry’s blog now looks like after creating pages, sub-pages and using a widget to link to the sub-pages.

Our next post will show how to create widget that link to sub-pages, a widget for photos and provide tips for decluttering your side bar.

newlook1.jpg

FINAL THOUGHT

We’d love feedback on Larry’s blog makeover, please check it out and provide your thoughts on further improvements. And if you’re in the process of a blog makeover let us know so we take a look!

Other posts in our “blog makeover” series include:

If you are enjoying reading this blog, please consider Subscribing For Free!

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49 thoughts on “Tips For Doing A Blog Makeover

  1. Hi Sue
    Yep I too am trying to give my ‘Sliced Bread’ some new fresh crust, but getting a new avatar to load just aint happening. It turns to a black box, thats worse than my old one.

    Thanks for the twitter help, its always appreciated.

    I’m walking away now, 3 deep breathes, and then I’ll scream in frustration at not being able to do what I need to.

    Nevermind, I’ll come back later and James will have fixed it, I’m sure.

    1. Hi Tony- I must admit I tried changing mine the other day and it didn’t work. I’ve just tried again so lets see if it works for me now. Sounds like you are doing a bit of a blog makeover. Let me know if you need any help.

      Now for the test.

  2. What amazes me is that, in all of discussions, and after looking hard, there is absolutely nothing about how to load a template for my new blog. How did I (or you) miss this point?

  3. thank you for all the tips that pass by as we work on the blog.
    I wonder how I can make a blog effective for students in grade 1.
    or how to make them involved in it in an easy accessible way.
    I’m a grade one english teacher.

  4. Is there a way to make several images cycle through on a page; either set for a certain amount of time, or randomly chosen each time the page is displayed? I have many pictures of my students and it would be fun for the main image to change frequently.

  5. i am finding this page parent thing a real nightmare at the moment, i want to make sub pages but when i put them on a parent page i can no longer find them. can anyone suggest what i am doing wrong?

  6. A blog should give an impression that it is going to provide the visitor something new and unique always. The theme,content,graphics and arrangement of various elements should reflect the attitude of the blog in general.

  7. Thank you for the tips, I need to come back and update mine (I tried once, but want it to look nicer). Thanks again for the help ….. I’m too Vanilla, white shirt and Khaki pants, ham sandwich every day. Need to spice up the blog, though.

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