Work Stuff

It’s All in the Design


(This week’s header – you can find an example of how this looks here. I call this “Graffiti”).

I spent the majority of yesterday exploring wordpress.com’s back room. I paid them $15 for the right to customize my CSS (if you haven’t noticed, I fixed the place up a bit) and had a lot of fun playing around with different looks. I’m a bit simplistic in my designs simply because I’m a firm believer in making the icing on the cake complement the dessert, not detract from it’s moist goodness.

In other words, I think blog templates should be attractive and eye-catching, but not distract from what’s really important, the content.

As a result, my designs are simple and usually pretty straight forward. I love designing fun blog headers and then color coordinating the rest of the blog so that it all ties together.

I’ve mentioned that I miss my old self-hosted wordpress blog, and I do. But I have to be honest with you, wordpress.com has made me feel right at home and there are only a few things I truly miss and wish wordpress.com would implement on their blogs: namely the sticky post feature. I miss the sticky posts. (WordPress people, if you read this, is there anyway you could design a widget for a sticky post? Pretty please?!)

I hadn’t really meant to bring this up right now, but since I’ve sort of muscled my way into it, I’ll share with you a couple of neat tools wordpress.com users can implement on their own blogs.

1. Polls. I used Twiigs as my poll host on my old blog. I loved how their polls were set up and they were easy for visitors to figure out and use. However, wordpress.com blogs do not allow you to embed any type of javascript or flash elements into their blogs, so Twiigs was out. I did a little research and found out that the good folks at Polldaddy converted their poll code so that wordpress.com users could easily insert their polls into their posts and/or sidebars. Hint: After you create your poll in Polldaddy, there will be an option in the right-hand column for wordpress.com users. Click on that and copy/paste that code into your blog. Works like a charm. Thank you PollDaddy! Your generosity has made me a long-time user of your polls.

2. Videos. WordPress.com already automatically converts Youtube videos into acceptable code whenever you copy/paste the embed code into your posts. However, there will be times when you would like to embed a video that’s not hosted through Youtube. That’s where Vodpod.com comes in. Vodpod is an extension for your web browser. You download the extension and it inserts the wordpress “W” icon in your browser toolbar. Whenever you come across a video that you would like to embed into your wordpress.com blog, you simply click on that icon and a pop-up window will walk you through the process. (Make sure your pop-up blocker is turned off). You will have the option of either publishing it right away, or sending it to your blog editor and publishing later. I’ve been using it for the past few weeks and it works like a charm. Thank you Vodpod!

I learned, through my wordpress.com blog experiments, that even though wordpress.com limits what you can and can not do on design, I think this is a good thing overall. I think having too much creative license tends to excite people and they go overboard on the flashy/cluttered design elements: one must be choosy when picking out cool features to post on your blog – too many things becomes overwhelming and slows load times WAAAY down. Visitors won’t generally stick around and wait two minutes for your page to load. I know I don’t.

I think wordpress.com gives people just the right amount of control so that they can personalize their blogs, but not so much that they get carried away and slow things down for the rest of the people on the server. Yet another “bravo” to wordpress.com. I truly love you guys.

Okay, so enough with the gushing praise … 😀

The real reason behind this post is to share a few of the banners I’ve been working on. I’ve taken some of the graphics that I purchased from istockphoto.com and have (hopefully) turned them into fun and unique banners for someone to use on their blogs. These banners can be customized into any size and/or into any font desired. If you would like one of these banners, just send me the exact size of your banner for your template and I’ll convert it.

Three things:

1. These banners are for sale. You can find a break down of the prices here. This would explain why the ugly “writefromkaren.com” lines are all over the banner because it’s not fair to me, or to the graphic artist, to steal it without paying for it.

2. When I purchased these graphics from istockphoto.com, I purchased a license that gave me the right to play around with said graphic for promotional purposes. Considering I’d like to sell the banners I create with said graphics, I will have to purchase the graphic from istockphoto.com again – the cost of the graphic will be passed onto the client and will be included in the overall price of the header.

3. I’m only selling banners at this time. However, if wordpress.com users would be willing to pay wordpress.com $15 to customize their CSS (this license fee is good for 12 months), then I can certainly customize the CSS to color-coordinate with the banner.

In essence, I’m selling blog templates, but on a more elemental level. WordPress.com doesn’t allow it’s users to manipulate the actual template elements, only the way it looks. But if you don’t know what you’re doing, manipulating the CSS code can be a bit intimidating.

I’m getting my feet wet with wordpress.com blogs right now. I will be offering customized templates for self-hosted wordpress blog users very soon and Blogspot users in the near future.

If you would be interested in seeing what type of banners I’ve made and am currently working on (the page will be constantly evolving as I add new banners) you can check them out here. Details on how to purchase these banners are also on this page (I go through PayPal).

If you have any questions/comments/suggestions, please feel free to email me (my email addy is in the sidebar). If you’re interested in a website, I do those, too. You can check out my professional website here. (I specialize in school websites).

Thanks for humoring me – designing is near and dear to my heart so you can probably anticipate more design talk in the future. 🙂

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(By the way, if anyone would like a Twitter button like the one I made above, just email me [email addy in sidebar] and I’ll be happy to make one for you, FREE!)