Monday, November 22, 2010

Blog re-design and some things I've learned

Hi friends and happy Monday! I am super duper excited to announce the new blog design here on D&OC.  Lately, I'd feeling bleh about the blog's overall look.  Besides the banner, which I've kept as it was designed by one of my best friends and is part of D&OC's branding, I had done most of the "design work" which really just consisted of a bunch of hodge podge widgets thrown together.  I felt like D&OC needed to be taken to the next level visually, to be more of an accurate reflection of my aesthetic, and to be more user friendly for you lovely readers.  I thought I'd offer some blog re-design tips for any of you looking to hire an outside designer for the job.  
  • Decide whether you want to do DIY or hire someone.  My training is in painting, not graphic design and although I've learned a lot the past couple of years blogging, I did not feel like I had the "know how" to do a re-design myself.  And, frankly, I didn't have the patience or time to try.
  • My next step was to decide upon a budget for the re-design.  Many times, you tend to get what you pay for and I had no intentions of compromising the quality of design to save a buck; however, the cost had to fit within my means.  D&OC is not a new blog and I already had a banner and overall look that I was going for, so I wasn't going to need a ton of mock-ups or original designs for branding.  If you're starting from scratch, expect to pay more.
  • I wasn't sure where to begin on finding a designer, so I tweeted about it!. I was specially looking for someone who works with the Blogger platform as opposed to Wordpress.  I've decided to stick with Blogger, for now, so I wanted to hire someone who very familiar with the quirks and features. I got lots of recommendations and got to work visiting sites, reviewing portfolios and comparing prices.  The most important detail for me was finding someone who's design aesthetic was closest to what I was looking for.  I definitely recommend figuring out the "look" you're wanting PRIOR to picking a designer.
  • After compiling a list of potential designers, I remembered that my blog friend Rachel from Lovely Clusters does design so I decided to shoot her an e-mail.  I explained clearly what I would be needing and what I wouldn't be needing (this is important if you're getting quotes from people).  I then told her my budget and much to my relief, she agreed to take the job!
  • Working with someone I've collaborated with in the past was a big relief because Rachel was already familiar with D&OC, she knows how I communicate, and I felt like I could be completely open with my concerns.  Rachel was incredibly professional, fast as lightening, and super easy to work with.  Handing over my blog for someone to mess with was very nerve racking (what if it got deleted accidentally?!) but Rachel simply exudes confidence, so I was put at ease.
  • I suggest working out a payment plan with your designer (i.e. deposit, portion after mock ups, rest after coding, etc.) so that you don't hand all of the money over and then not know what to do if you're disappointed with the design.   Make sure your designer is legit by carefully reviewing the portfolio and perhaps getting recommendations from prior clients.  Do the legwork before hiring someone and be as clear as possible about what you're needing, otherwise you might end up miscommunicating your needs.
I hope your enjoy the new design as much as I do.  New pages have been added including an "about" page, info on advertising on D&OC, and a description of D&OC II.  A HUGE thank you to Rachel for an amazing job! Checkout Ironwood Design Studio for more of Rachel's work.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on your own blog design/re-design experiences or any tips you might have about the process.
xo,
Christina

image: Oh Deer (£18.00) Keep Calm Gallery

21 comments:

Heather-Gathering Spriggs said...

Looks great christina! Rachel did my blog design too and I would say all the same things you did! She is super fabulous in so many ways! I even found new inspiration from the new layout.

Anna Liesemeyer said...

It looks wonderful Christina! And Rachel is the perfect girl for the job! :)

Gina said...

This looks so great! It is clean, easy to read and still exudes your style.

I have been wanting a re-design on my blog too. I have tried the DIY thing for over a year and I am just not that good at it!

Thanks for the tips, I am highly considering a complete makeover in 2011.

manvi @ mochatini said...

looks great christina! I have been meaning to do a blog re-design too, thanks for reminding me abt ironwood!! love Rachel's work.

escapade said...

Looks fantastic Christina!!
+ Well done Rachel :)

Rhiannon Nicole said...

Looks incredible!! Way to go girls :)

Helena - A Diary of Lovely said...

looks great Christina, Rachel is super talented and she got your aesthetic perfectly, well done to both!

keith p. rein said...

look'n good! much cleaner, i like it.

avant garde said...

not kidding, this looks so great! i've already clicked on rachel's link. i may get a quote from her as well. i'm looking for 3 columns and have tried playing with it myself and i'm like you, don't have the time or the patience. thanks for the tip and seriously i adore this layout!!!

TERI REES WANG said...

You just reminded me to give all my sites a better thread of continuity.
Be well. Be swell. Be smart.
Cheers!

Rachel Follett said...

What a great post! I really like how you go into detail about the process. Thank you so much for choosing me to be your designer. :)Such a delight to work with and I love how the final result came out.

Caitlin said...

I like it! I feel like my blog needs a re-boot, but I'm just too lazy.

beauty comma said...

i like your new design a lot - it's very down & out chic, but more together. congratulations christina - and rachel, great job!

Paige (Final Clothes-Out) said...

Love the new look! It's different without being TOO different. It's just a sleeker version of the old layout.

I re-did my blog last week, although I just tweaked one of the templates. I did make an "awesome" banner in MS Paint, though! (I've got the mad skillz, I tell ya.)

Sam said...

It looks fab!! :0)

carly said...

<3
this really helps.
honestly.

Bromeliad said...

Wow. Tremendous improvement

Didn't you used to have a similar but somewhat smaller banner?

Down and Out Chic said...

Bromeliad- the banner is the same banner, designed by Paper Thin Design. The re-design was the background and format of the blog, but the banner is definitely the same!

Anonymous said...

О! merci amigo! grand poteau!

Anonymous said...

I usually don’t post in Blogs but your blog forced me to, amazing work.. beautiful …

Sherry said...

I just stumbled upon you by following a link from Pinterest. I was trying to locate the image I'd seen there and found this post about blogging. I appreciate your words of wisdom and experience here and feel like I was meant to find this tonight. I am a brand spanking new blogger and I'm finding my way, so thanks for sharing!

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