You only have a limited time to make the right impression for first time readers; blog theme, post layout and blog clutter all impact on first impressions. Great content is easily missed if your blog theme is distracting or off putting.
Tips for Road testing Blog Themes
New bloggers often spend considerable time changing their blog theme to work out which theme works best for them.
When road testing blog themes make sure that you have:
- Several posts on your blog and at least one with an image added e.g. have at least 3 posts published (you can always delete)
- In one of the post include all heading styles so that you can see the font color, size and type of each heading style
- Add comments to two of the posts (you can always delete)
Edublogs provides 100 themes for you to choose from ranging from themes that can’t be altered i.e. “use as is” to themes that are “extremely customizable” i.e. change image header, font types, font color and background color. You change your theme by clicking on Design > Theme in your blog dashboard and then click on the theme you want to use.
Features worth considering when choosing a blog theme include:
1. What Is Your Preferred Layout?
Blog themes normally include a header, a content area (for your posts), sidebar area (for your widgets) and come in several standard layouts:
- Single column with no sidebar (widgets are located at the bottom of the blog)
- Two Column – normally a wide column for content and narrower sidebar
- Three Column – with sidebars side-by-side on one side of the blog or either side of the wider content column
- Four Column – one content column and three sidebars. The content column is often the same width as the other columns. This type of layout tends to be cluttered looking and less suited to reading lengthy content.
Two or three column are the most commonly used layouts. When considering layout you need to think about which side(s) do you prefer the sidebar to be located? Also make sure you check out the width of the blog and the post area.
2. Do you want your tagline displayed in the blog header?
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.
3. Do you want to be able to upload your own Custom Image Header?
Being able to upload your own custom image header means you can add your “own personal touch” to your blog plus you can use it as a work around for blog themes that don’t include taglines i.e. Add the tagline to the image header using tools like PhotoShop.
4. Do you want links to pages in the blog header?
Some blog themes have links to pages in their blog header while on other themes you use the page widget in your sidebar. I personally like to have page links in my header to make it easier for readers to navigate pages on my blogs.
5. What are your preferred color scheme?
When choosing your theme remember that if color scheme makes your content hard to read you will lose readers. So balance your personal preferences with readability since ultimately you want people to read your content.
Don’t just look at the overall color — remember to check closely the color of: the header; the background; post text and links; post titles; headings in posts; widget titles and links.
When choosing color schemes it is worth doing audit of your blog by watching a first time reader read your blog to observe how they are interacting with the content on the site. Don’t talk to them while they navigate through your site just record how they interact and what engages/distracts them. Once finished ask them questions like:
- What were their first impressions were?
- What captured their attention?
- What distracted them?
- Do they have suggestions on how you could improve your blog?
While most of the standard Edublogs themes color schemes can’t be altered i.e. “use as is” there are a few themes that allow you to change the theme’s color.
6. What type of font do you like?
Most of the standard Edublogs themes don’t provide the ability to change font type i.e. “use as is” however there are a few themes that allow you to change their font.
I’ve tried to cover the basics of choosing an Edublogs theme for your blog. But would love to hear about:
- What you look for when choosing a blog theme?
- Which themes you have found are easier for students to use?
- Are there any blog themes that really popular with your students?
Need help choosing your Edublogs theme? – check out The 100 Edublogs Themes Separated Into Categories To Make Choosing Your Next Theme Easier and Edublogs Themes That Allow Comments on Pages!
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