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August 16, 2012

Tips on Thursday: Redesign

Cover of "13 Going On 30 (Special Edition...
Cover of 13 Going On 30 (Special Edition)
One of my favorite movies is 13 Going on 30 starring Jennifer Garner as a 13 year old who wants to be 30 (probably the only girl to ever wish to be 30). When she becomes 30 she is an editor at her favorite magazine. Unfortunately, the magazine is being scooped by its competition.

During an editorial meeting, editor-in-chief Richard Kneeland (played by Andy Serkis) announces, "I've come off the phone with corporate and they have dropped the R word."

The staff is all in shock and disbelief, questioning the decision to redesign.

Richard declares, "Well, we either redesign and pull up our numbers or they pull the plug."

Lucy (played by Judy Greer) responds, "Richard, redesign is a death sentence."

Jennifer Garner's character counters, "No, it's not. It's a chance to have some fun."

(Thanks to Script-o-Rama for assistance with the dialogue. The dialogue tags are my own).

Why was Lucy and the rest of the staff in dismay over being told to redesign? A lot goes into building an audience and a brand: visuals play a big part in branding. If you see the "swoosh" you know it is Nike. A red can with slivery-white curlycue writing makes you think Coca-cola.

When I started blogging, I used the generic book template Blogger has (I'm sure you know what I'm talking about - the one with rows of books). I wasn't sure if I would stick with book blogging and what direction I would take with my blogging. The theme let visitors right from the start know that the blog was about books. About 4 months in, I wanted a new theme. At the time, I was planning on only recording my views on books so looked for a journal style theme. Around the one year mark, I started growing tired of my layout, but wasn't sure what I wanted. I talked to a designer. Many people were going to graphic heavy themes that had rating systems, avatars, headers, etc. that all coordinated - great for branding. I thought of going that way, but it seemed to be more than I wanted. I stayed with my current theme.

So a year and a half after I started blogging, I'm once again contemplating a redesign. I feel my blog is going in a bit different direction. I'm hosting more authors and other books news, not to mention my popular Tips series. The theme I have doesn't allow the functionality I need or want. Also, as I move towards the publication of my book, I want a more professional look for my blog.

I must decide how much of my blog's "look" is tied to its brand. Because I've been thinking about this for a while, I created a blog button to serve as the start of a logo for my brand. I hope that by incorporating the logo into whatever theme I choose will lend continuity to my blog as I change themes. I don't want readers to come to my blog and wonder if they landed in the wrong place.

Now, I must decide what I want in a theme. Though ad revenue has been up the past month, I don't have the money to hire a professional. Thankfully, there are some very good customizable free themes. I like the look of my Twylah page. Ideally, I want a theme that sorts my posts by category on the "front" page.

As I grow, I'm finding I need to post more than once a day. I also want to make my site easier for readers to find the information they want. I think a newspaper or magazine theme would be good. Right now, a post gets less than 24 hours in the top spot on my blog. Each post would get more exposure if categories were featured. Here is a template I'm contemplating.

It looks like I will be able to add a new feature - videos. More and more books are getting trailers and I would be able to highlight those. I've also received recorded author interviews to showcase on the blog. I think it will make it easier for visitors to find the information they want - looking for the latest author guest post, just click on that category instead of scrolling through to the right day.

I think I've been resistant to changing my layout because I've had Lucy's mentality towards redesigning. But with the growth in both readership/page views and author requests, I'm leaning towards Jenna - it's time to have some fun and make my site even more accessible to visitors.

Your turn: What are your thoughts on redesign? I would love your feedback on upcoming changes to my blog. Is there something you would like to see differently or something you really like about the current layout that you hope I keep?

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  1. I'm right there on needing to redesign my blog site. I have no idea what type of site I want and I struggle with trying to get badges on my home page so I know I can't do the redesigning. I'll need help!!