Blog Design Part 3: At A Crossroads

In terms of blog design, I’m a little stuck right now. After learning all about design and how to implement UX and UI this week, I feel inspired to change things around a bit. The problem is that I’m using a template. And I can’t alter that template.

Using Templates

Gertz argues that templates change the way that we “communicate, read, and distribute our culture.” He uses the example of Squarespace templates to show that they all look the same. The makers of these templates don’t care about content because they offer the users the convenience of simply choosing a template, slapping their content into it, and creating something that looks acceptable.

And this is sort of what I’m doing.

When I first bought my domain name and logged onto WordPress, I was automatically overwhelmed and felt panicked. I didn’t know where to start. So, naturally, I sought out some help, which came in the form of a template.

After much searching, I found a template that I felt fit my vision board extremely well. I could focus on creating content that I liked, instead of worrying about choosing fonts, colours, headers, layout, and so so so much more. Using this template made navigating WordPress a lot less daunting and I didn’t have to worry too much about design elements because the template did it all for me. The only problem with using a template was that I couldn’t customize it. At all.

There are some elements of my template that I don’t enjoy too much, such as the font colour, the article size, and the layout of the articles, which don’t really fit my vision. And after reading about Gertz’s description of what templates can do to users, “squeez[ing] the expression and emotion right out of the design process,” I’ve begun to rethink the use of a template.

But here lies another problem. I have no idea how to code changes into my template. And if I were to completely eliminate my template and start from scratch, it would take hours to learn to create something that probably won’t even come close to the template that I started with, and I’m not too sure I’m prepared to take on such a big task as an amateur website designer.

If I Didn’t Use a Template…

Gertz briefly explains the process of digital design and the user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) distinction. UX design involves “how it works” while UI concerns “how it looks.” With the help of this week’s guest lecture and its section on UX/UI, I’ve identified many elements that I’d like to change in my blog.

Firstly, I would like to change how things are laid out. On my homepage, right now visitors can only see a collage of the royal family. This is nice, because it encourages users to check out the many different posts by navigating to the menu bar. But I’d also like to feature a few posts which help capture their attention like I’ve seen on so many other websites and blogs. If I could figure out how to do it, I’d like to add a post carousel that rotates my featured posts and further engages readers.

My homepage, which features a collage of the royal family, with a menu bar at the top
My homepage, which features a collage of the royal family

Also, once people click on the categories in my menu bar, they are immediately met with a large picture of my most recent post’s “featured image,” creating a “false floor.” To encourage scrolling, I’d change this and allow viewers to see the variety of different posts in short “previews” instead of seeing a large image as soon as they click on a category.

The "hot takes" section of my blog, which features a large photo of Prince Charles, creating the "false floor" effect.
The large photo of Prince Charles in the “hot takes” section creates the illusion of a “false floor”

Also, I’d like to space out the lines in my actual blog posts a little differently. Right now, everything is spaced evenly. I can’t add extra spaces if I want some room before the reference list, or make a header closer to the content that belongs under it. This lack of flexibility makes some of my posts a little stuffy sometimes. I hope to find some sort of code to be able to change this, so that this increases the readability of my website.

Should I Change my Blog?

So, after a lot of thinking about my blog’s direction, I think that I won’t be eliminating the template completely, but I think I’m going to try my hand at a little bit of coding. It’s sort of like taking off the training wheels, so that eventually, I’ll be able to make something without a template.

I’ve already found an extension called “Fonto” that will help me change the fonts in my website, and I’m going to search for more in the coming weeks. With little steps in my website customization process, I hope to create something that’s more “me”. Something that’s more geared toward my own vision.

References:

Gertz, T. (2015, July 10). How to sur­vive the dig­i­tal apocalypse. Louder Than Ten. https://louderthanten.com/coax/design-machines

Photo:

Getty Images. (n.d.). [Crossroads]. https://www.inc.com/marissa-levin/the-5-most-important-questions-to-ask-yourself-when-at-a-crossroads.html

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