How to choose a pre-made blog design

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A new blog design is always a great (and fun!) way to rejuvenate your blog and get a fresh start. If you're not ready to hire a blog designer, looking for the perfect premade blog theme is a great route to go.

There are a few important things to keep in mind.

You don't want to blindly pick a new theme or template.

Doing so would be like going to the grocery store, hungry, and without a list. You end up dragging yourself up and down the aisles, filling your cart with items that make your pupils dilate. You end up spending more money than needed, and you will probably also leave the store with junk.

How to choose a premade blog design

Looking for a blog theme without a plan is like that: you may end up spending money on several themes that looked like they were going to work but end up not working. And you may also waste a lot of time browsing, instead of having a goal in mind and efficiently searching.

The other problem? If you willy-nilly choose a blog theme, you may end up alienating your readers or losing interest in your own blog because the new design doesn't feel right.

There are several reasons to update your blog's design:

  • Your current design is dated
  • You never customized your blog's look before
  • Your design no longer fits in with your brand
  • You're changing blogging platforms
  • etc

No matter what your reason, follow my tips below and you'll be all set to attack your blog theme searching with purpose.

Take Inventory of your Blog's Components

Take inventory of your blog's must-have content components
Take inventory of your blog's must-have content components

Redesigning your blog is like redesigning a room: it's a great time to take inventory of everything, prioritize certain items, and purge other items that are just causing clutter and eyesores.

Take a look at the critical components that make up your blog.

These can be the elements of the header, the sidebar gadgets or widgets, and the items in the footer. Also look at the things that occur within your blog posts, like your preferred image widths, a box for related posts, your blog post signature, and more.

Make a list of all of these items, and star the ones that are most important to you.

If you're just getting started in blogging, it's time to look at the blogs you read with a critical eye.

It can be hard to separate content from design, but at this stage it's important to be able to list the things you want or must have. This will make blog theme shopping much easier later down the road.

Stay true to your brand

Remember when I talked about not alienating your audience? This is where this comes in. If your audience is used to seeing a pink blog with hearts, then suddenly you switch to a minimalist black and white theme, they're going to have to do a double-take. And honestly, only your most loyal readers will stick around.

There are ways to change the look of your blog while making sure you have some recurring brand themes that carry over from your previous blog design to your new one. Some of these visual branding items may include:

  • Colors
  • Your Logo or header
  • Font choices
  • Photos (especially when it's a photo of your face and it stays in the same location. We all know how important your face is for your blog
  • Branding motifs - like hearts or arrows or a certain style of graphics

Shop around

Now that you know what content components you need to carry over, plus a general sense of what visual elements you would like to feed into a new design, it's time to go shopping.

If you're really new to blog theme or template shopping, I recommend looking at Etsy for Blogger Templates and Creative Market for WordPress themes.

Both of these marketplaces have designers that sell themes regularly, and you can read reviews of the designers and shop owners which will help with sifting through the mounds of results.

Depending on how obsessive organized you are, you may want to make a list of theme names and check off your must-have items. Pretty soon you'll have a comparative list that will make your theme selection easier. Or, if you find one you like, just double-check that it fits your requirements before you send it tumbling into your cart.

Some other things to think about when shopping:

  • Do you need theme installation help? Does this shop owner include it in the theme purchase or provide installation as a separate item?
  • Will you need ongoing theme support? How does the shop owner rate with customer service, according to reviews or her own website? Does the theme have a history of updates, if needed?
  • Can you edit the theme? If you need to drop in your logo or header, can it be done with the theme? And does it look good? Can you change colors or fonts, etc?
  • Do you need a mobile theme? Does the theme you're looking at have a responsive template or a mobile theme?
  • Does the price seem right? Much like anything design-related, if something is too inexpensive then the designer probably cut a lot of corners to make it that way. The price should be competitive with other similar blog theme designs.
  • Do you need extra functionality? If you've found a blog design that is *almost* perfect but there's still one element missing, would you be able to fix it yourself or hire the designer for a small custom job?

Not all of these may apply to you, but the list is there to help get your critical thinking flowing.

Notify your readers

I always recommend announcing a blog redesign.

It's a great way to show your readers what your blog looked like before and after, and it gives you a chance to explain why you made the changes. (Just remember to take a screenshot of your blog before you install your new theme!)

What questions do you have related to choosing a premade blog design?

Cover photo by Clarisse Meyer