How do you get your blog to look like that?

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This post has been completely inspired by a colleague who posted the most simple but amazingly helpful blogpost about… well blogging and she has inspired me to add my two pence to it.

Anne-Marie is one of our learning techs at the uni and is an example blogger, her post was inspired by the questions and requests for advice she gets. You can pop over to her blog and have a read before you go any further, it’s well worth it.

I am going to follow suit and write a wee thing on the blogging question I get asked most often. Hey maybe Anne-Marie has started a chain here.

My blog is self hosted as part of a suite of blogs I have for various purposes, you can see my hobbies blog listed at the top and I think I list a Gaelic language blog in my about page. Generally I use blogging as a way of gaining thinking space, so having my own hosting means I can make and delete blogs as need be. It also means I can use some pretty cool themes which is probably the most asked question I get. How do you make your blog look like that?

So for my two pence worth on advice from bloggers (started by Anne-Marie)…

Themes

Themes are probably the part of blogging which caught my attention way back when I started. A quick and easy way to make your site look individual and need I say cool? Back then I was still hard coding so this quick fit skin idea was mind blowing and I must confess put an end to my coding days.

So the thing you need to know about themes is this, you can get loads for free. That’s the cool thing about blogging platforms like wordpress. However you can also buy ready made but slightly more customisable themes and you can buy these themes and have professional support for when you need assistance.

The theme I use on my blogs (at the moment cause for me themes are like socks, I change them often) is called Presence and comes from a company called WPZoom. I’ve used them for a few years now because their customer service and IT support is amazing, so they have made a lifelong customer of me.

Customisable you say?

There are various options when we talk about customisable, for me the combination of easy (I’m lazy) and lots of options is a no brainer. I have a particular thing about being able to provide for my readers, as in the people who come to my site. I want to offer them options that perhaps I couldn’t give them if I went with a bog standard theme. So here was my thinking for using this theme and the options it gave me.

Non linear

I wanted people to go explore, find things which interest them and read posts out of chronological order. I know crazy talk right? But this all started with my hobby blog which caters to a wide group of folk, not all of whom want to read all the categories. So giving them a way to navigate around by what they chose seemed right.

I also have an archive drop down so folk can go pick bits and bobs from there and of course a tag cloud. Options, options, options.

I have kept the standard in date order latest blogs thing below because some folk do like that, especially as you form a relationship with your readers and they use the blog as a window into your antics, but this way folk got a choice.

Usability

As someone with a disability, having a site that was fluid (changes size and shape to suit the device) is a big must for me. I don’t always read text, sometimes I rely on a screen reader. I don’t always do well with large paragraphs of text so I want to have lots of white space. I sometimes struggle to differentiate one area of a website from another so I like to have clear sections.

This is all personal to me, but I feel like I’m doing something good if I can work on the things I know are an issue for me. Now, full confession, there are other areas I am terrible for, for example I nearly always forget to tag images and have to go back and do this later. But I am aware of this and working on it. That leads me on nicely to …

Images

I am a very visual person, an image which is relevant to the content really helps me sometimes so I try to use images to help direct things a bit. I think this is a completely personal thing but I get a lot of pleasure out of taking daft photos of keyboards.

So let me leave you here with a wee task to try out. Do you have a blog? What made you chose the theme you have? What would you change if you could?

and…

join the chain, what advice or nuggets of information are you going to share?

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