Blog Design for Dummies by Melissa Culbertson
Blog Design For Dummies met my expectations and soared even higher.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book for evaluation purposes. Regardless, I only promote products/services I truly recommend. This post contains affiliate links.
I like to think I know some basics about blog design, even if I haven’t been able to implement what I know in my own blogs. I know my blogs aren’t the most beautiful but I work with what I have.
Even though I loved the author Melissa Culbertson’s blog Blog Clarity, her DIY Critique Workbook and I’ve recently signed up for her Content Brew course, I wasn’t sure about this book at first because I thought that it would either tell me what I already knew OR go into something so complicated I wouldn’t be able to implement it. I WAS WRONG.
Somehow the book covers the basics as well as more advanced techniques without making those that know the basics bored with certain parts. I have read the whole book and I still don’t understand how the book manages to do that!
There is just SO much in this book that you will be bookmarking, rereading, highlighting or sticky noting the whole book. I think any blogger could find helpful advice in this book, I really do.
The book is so good in fact, that I’ve been struggling to review it for weeks trying to find the right words. I’m still having trouble but didn’t want to put off sharing this book with my readers any longer.
What Topics are Covered in Blog Design for Dummies
Part 1: Getting Started With Blog Design – includes components of well-designed blog, applying core design principles to your blog, getting to know your blog and establishing a style guide (more on that later in the review.)
Part 2: Choosing the Visual Design Elements – Gathering design ideas, selecting fonts and colours, developing your overall blog layout, customizing your header, footer and background and customizing the design with coding basics.
Part 3: Designing for Easy Navigation and Interactivity – Navigation and SEO basics, laying out your navigation menu and sidebars, making content easy to find and increasing ability to share and interact.
Part 4: Creating Design-Friendly Content – designing main pages of content, working with images and incorporating design into your blog posts.
Part 5: The Part of Tens – ten places to extend your blog’s design and ten well-designed blogs.
Not Just for WordPress Users
All my blogs are on WordPress now but I used to be on blogger and I know how frustrating it can be to see a cool element you want to use on your blog or tips on making your blog better you want to use only to find out it’s for WordPress users only. Of course some things can only be done on WordPress but non WordPress users are not completely disregarded.
This book is not just for WordPress users as Melissa states in the introduction:
“The majority of this book is not geared towards any specific blog platform; however, when I show you steps, they are typically for the WordPress.org platform because it’s the most popular one. The majority of plug-ins that I mention are also for WordPress, although some plug-ins can be used on multiple blog platforms. When possible, I mention options for Blogger, Tumblr and a few other platforms too.”
The Why, Not Just the How
I think this is what makes the book so great. You aren’t just told what to do to improve your blog’s design. Time it taken to explain why the recommendation is being made and how it affects your blog and its readers. I found the parts that read like this very intriguing and sometimes I read it through twice to really let it sink in.
The book itself is visually appealing too which makes sense if you think about it. Who would read a book about design that was designed poorly? It was a pleasant surprise to see the book was in full colour and printed on glossy paper, unlike what you usually see in a For Dummies book. It is much easier to see how a small change can make such a difference with colour screenshots or understand how certain colours compliment each other while others clash when you can see it in the book.
The Style Guide is an extremely helpful part that I have started to put into practice but still have a long way to go, especially since I want to do it with each of my blogs. The Style Guide is a document that outlines all the design aspects of a blog from it’s colour scheme, fonts and sizes, rules for how certain words are spelled (such as ebook or e-book), formatting, image size and more. It’s best to create it as you create a new blog or a new design for an existing blog but it can and should be made for any blog. It’s especially helpful if you have more than one blog like me because if you need to design an image for a blog or double check how something is formatted on your blog, you can refer to the style guide.
I really have only begun to scratch the surface explaining my thoughts on Blog Design for Dummies. This is a book I will be referring back to many, many times as I plan and update the look of all my blogs. The book isn’t only for those who plan to design the look of their blogs from scratch. Even if you have or are going to hire a designer to create a unique design for you blog, you can still make use of many parts of this book.