May 23, 2007

Crafty Blog School: Choosing a Template

Crafty Blog School

Welcome to Week 2 of Crafty Blog School! I'm assuming everyone has chosen a blog service they're happy with. Well, your first challenge when you start a new blog is... choosing a template!

Or, you blogging veterans may have a template already, but you're not 100% sure you love it, or you feel guilty you haven't customized your blog with oodles of fonts, colors, or shiny animated gifs...


Less is More!

May I make a suggestion? Less really is more! I know you have lots of ideas, maybe for background colors, a cool header, a really cool font (or, like 10 different fonts), but when you're starting out, choose a template that's minimal. This way, if you want to customize it, it's much easier without having to figure out where all the pictures are "hidden" in the code. Also, if you have a crafty blog, do you really want the focus to be on 10 different cool fonts, a crazy background pattern that gives you a headache, funky animated pictures, or... your crafts? :)


Here are some nice Blogger and Wordpress templates you can easily customize:

Blogger templates


Minima

Washed Denim

Stretch Denim Light


Wordpress templates

Blix

Regulus

Pool

Typepad templates?
I'll leave the volunteering to all of you Typepad users! Leave a comment with your favorite template, or one that you'd recommend for a beginner...


A Note on "Minima" Blogs
That Blogger Minima template doesn't look like much, does it? Nothing's moving, there are no dancing or sparkling gifs, but the design is clean and the focus is where it should be: on the pictures of the crafts! My favorite Blogger blogs almost always use the Minima template. It may look plain, but adding your own header and changing the link colors can make a big difference. Take a look at this list and see if it inspires you to go Minima:

anna maria horner
geninne
crafty synergy
sugarloop



Next week: Naming Your Blog and Creating a Header... Leave a comment with any questions or suggestions!

All Crafty Blog School Posts:

week 1: Where Do I Blog?
week 2: Choosing a Template
week 3: Name Your Blog & Create a Header
week 4: Blogging Photos from Flickr
week 5: How to Put that Darned Thimble Guy in Your Sidebar
week 6: How to Take Better Pictures of Your Crafts

12 comments:

  1. Florisita,

    I suggestion about header graphics. There seems to be a big trend in the blogosphere to have these huge graphic title header graphics. While they look nice, they have a couple of problems.

    Firstly, if they are too big, they can take up the whole screen and people have to scroll to start reading the text of the blog or to even find out what the blog is about.

    Secondly, really big title graphics take ages to load. No everyone has broadband or cable. So make them small and quick loading, especially if you have lots of other graphics on your blog.

    So, my comment is title graphics are good, but keep them lean (less than 200 pixels high) and mean (clean and easy to read).

    And I agree with the comments about templates. Simple is good for the reader and if you do decide to customise them, it's easier to make a bigger impact by making small changes on a simple template.

    Cheers,
    Jane

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  2. I so agree with you Jane, and I'll bring that up in my "creating a header" post! Sometimes I swear I've spent more than 2-3 minutes reading a blog and the header still hasn't appeared! And I have high speed internet!

    This happens to me so often on Typepad blogs I've even started to wonder if there's some sort of header bug in Typepad... But it probably is just a size issue!

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  3. Okay, now I'm feeling really paranoid about my dots - are they annoying. Eeek. Hurry up and give me the next installment of your wonderful lessons - I feel a re-vamp coming on!

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  4. I found a lot of great advice for working with blogger at http://www.bloggerforum.com/. Someone walked me through the process of placing a new header in the html code..they made it easy :)

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  5. I agree with the simplicity advice. When I first started my blog I had tons of stuff on the sides of my blog. I eventually realized that all my favorite blogs are kept to just the header and body with little else on the screen.

    My blog is through typepad, and I think most of us use a customizable template for our blogs. They usually allow for more creativity when designing your blog, but tend to require a bit more time to create.

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  6. Ali! Don't worry about your dots! They're not annoying at all - they're part of a Blogger template, so the designer made an effort to make them easy on the eyes.

    My rule of thumb for annoying is this: read through about 10 of your blog posts - if by the 10th post something is totally annoying you - the background, the text color, etc, then think about changing it! :)

    Amy that's a great suggestion and I couldn't agree more. Forums are a great place to go to learn how to do things - sometimes you luck out and have generous people who will walk you through the whole process!

    Rachel - I LOVE your blog design, by the way - you've re-done your header a couple of times and both are wonderful. I used you as an example for Typepad blogs because I love your colors and clean design! :)

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  7. i also agree with keeping it simple, although i do have a little bit of graphic design background, i really like my stuff simple. i've tried changing the background color, and i always find myself changing it back to plain ol white!... i do have a suggestion though or a question actually. i'm not big with html, so bare with me. i've tried to upload a header to my blog, it's not big in size, but why is it that it takes a loooooong time to try to upload and in the end it doesn't!... i've tried sooooo many times, i'm slowly giving up. is it beacuse i'm using a mac? i also have problems with uploading photos from flickr, please help!!!

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  8. I have a graphic design background too! And the first thing they ground into our heads was "keep it simple"! But maybe they had another word for it, they really hated the words "simple" and "basic"... :D

    Maybe your image is bigger than you think? I haven't uploaded any headers into Blogger, but I'll test it for next week's post. I host my header and other graphic elements on Photobucket and it works okay for me! Why don't you email me the image you're trying to upload? I'll test it for you! And I'll definitely go over Flickr in another post!

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  9. hehe, yes, i can't remember the term either...

    thanks for running a test, i'll send it right over :)

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  10. This is great. I can not wait for you to talk about headers. I am at a loss how to make a nice one. I hate the one I have.

    Thanks for taking time to walk up all through blogging.

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  11. I love your suggestions (and your blog template as well). I love clean, minimal templates with lots of whitespace. But on my blog I always end-up with too much stuff on the sidebars. I have to clean it up once in a while -- just like my craft room, lol!

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  12. Awesome template. and thanks for your thought provoking ideas. WordPress School Template

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