If you’ve paid The Barefaced Chic a visit in the past, you may notice that I’ve had a bit of a blog makeover. I must admit, I didn’t hate the old look – I just felt restricted by it. Like many, many other bloggers I use self-hosted WordPress, which I love. And, if I say so myself, I’m pretty good at ‘driving’ it. However, although I can code, I cannot build a complete website from scratch.
Having said that I’ve never really tried as, for both this site and my wedding blog, I’ve always found WordPress themes that suit my needs. So why the change? I wanted something with a bit more flexibility, more of a blank page if you like. You see with a theme, no matter how good, unless you can dig deep into the code and make changes you will always have to compromise somewhere down the line. So I spent many an hour searching for a theme that would satisfy my urge to ‘tinker’ and give me the stylish, ‘grown-up’ look that I was hankering after.
So how do you go about choosing a theme and making it look unique?
- Choose your theme wisely – when I first made the move from Typepad to WordPress I was like a kid in a virtual sweetshop, there are thousands of tasty themes to choose from and it can be quite a task to choose just one. Although I am guilty of this, it’s not a great idea to swap and change themes too often – so choose carefully.
- What do you want from a theme – for me it had to have the ability to show short excerpts from my posts in a magazine style. I’m really not a fan of scrolling, I find endlessly scrolling through posts a bit of a chore. Now this is my personal preference, I’m well aware that some readers prefer the more established way of showcasing a blog. Hey, it would be a boring old world if we all liked exactly the same thing. So have a think about what your new theme has to have, not just now but in the future.
- Will your theme grow with you? – If you’re new to WordPress it can be a bit daunting, there’s a rather steep learning curve. It can be tempting to cut your WordPress teeth on a very simple theme, which is exactly what I did. I then found myself a few months later hating the theme’s simplicity. If I had my time again I would probably buy some really cheap hosting, set up a dummy site and learn the basics before switching platforms. You’ll then get to know your WordPress strengths and weaknesses before you launch.
- Check out the theme’s support – not all WordPress themes come with in-depth support, especially if you want to make custom changes. Some developers are brilliant; they will answer all and any questions you may have regarding the theme – including customisation. Some will only answer questions regarding queries/issues with the actual theme itself, which is fair enough when you take the prices they charge for themes into account. (The average cost of a theme is around £45).
- Think colour – even the simplest of themes can be made to look original with careful use of colour. If you need help choosing your colour scheme, or you’re not sure which colours look good together, then Adobe Colour CC has a pretty nifty colour wheel tool. If you want to really dig in to the use of colour on a website, head over to this post on my wedding blog – it explains the psychology of colour in web design. You’re welcome 🙂
- Change the fonts – there are so many different choices of fonts on offer, it’s almost mind-blowing. So how do you choose? The fonts you choose have to be legible, I would always recommend using a pretty simple font for your body text. Being dyslexic, there are fonts out there that I simply cannot read – something to keep in mind when you’ve got your designer’s head on. I would also urge you to go down the less-is-more route, eight different fonts on one page can make a person’s head spin. If you want some guidance on Google Fonts pairing try Type Genius, choose a font and it spits out a list of fonts that compliment it.
- Have a custom header – some themes will add a header for you, all you have to do is choose the font and styling. Others leave it up to you. Personally I prefer to go down the DIY route and make my own, but there are plenty of designers out there who will be able to help your blog stand out from the crowd. The Barefaced Chic has gone through a few changes when it comes to the header, but I’m really loving this new one. It’s clean and simple; I think the others were a bit too fussy. Have a look below and let me know what do you think?
The current header.
The header before the current one. I really liked this, but felt it took up too much room above the fold (the area at the top third of a site’s page).
The very first header. I loved this, but abandoned it as I felt the image may encourage dieting which does not fit with my philosophy on healthy eating.