#HLSDesign Recap

by Heather on September 6, 2012

in 2012 Recaps

From the Healthy Living Summit Site:

A beautiful blog design can do a lot for your blog’s growth.  We’re all looking for something to catch a new visitors’ attention and keep them coming back for more.  Take some time during your weekend in Boston to get inspired to step up the looks of your site! Learn how to revamp your blog to make it both more user-friendly and eye-catching in this mini blog design boot camp. This session, led by Julie Grice of Savvy Blog Services and Savvy Eats, will focus largely on design for self-hosted WordPress blogs.



  • The MUST HAVES for a user-friendly experience:
    • The Basics
      • Search bar/function
        • people want to be able to find old content
      • Contact information
        • if you are concerned about spam, write your email address with the word “at” instead of the @.
      • subscription/follow options
        • readers want to follow you! Give them the options:  Posts by Email, RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, etc!
      • about page
        • with a photo – readers like to SEE who they are reading from
        • also include your contact information on this page, too! Make it easy for people who want to work with you and your blog to get ahold of you!
    • avoid music which automatically starts upon arrival
    • an uncluttered page is a user friendly page!
    • keep your navigation clear and easy to follow
      • have a home button and/or a clickable header which brings the reader back to your home page when they click on it!
      • keep navigation as straight forward as possible.
      • Having one single line of navigation looks cleanest and clearest
        • drop down menus help to highlight several topics and pages
      • Categories vs Tags
        • Categories are general, broad subjects – such as “Recipe” or “Fitness”
        • Tags are more specific – such as “Breakfast” or “Running”
        • When readers see a subject that interests them, categories and tags make it simple for them to see other posts on the same subjects


  • Design Inspiration
    • What designs are you most fond of in the sites you love?
      • The intent is not to copy their designs – but to find what you like about your favorites to inspire a starting direction with your own redesign
        • Consider colors, fonts, feel, layout, background, sidebars, graphics and headerstyle.
        • [Julie likes Shutterbean, Wit & Whistle, and Sugar and Charm Blog: all have clean, interesting typography, and simple color schemes!]
        • Julie noticed that many of her favorite sites have designs which are light, airy, and clean with simple graphics and subtle patterns, and feature a magazine style front/home page.
    • Keep a Pinterest board of your favorite sites for when you are looking for inspiration.
      • Snapito.com allows you to pin an entire page as an image.  This is perfect for capturing a “look” of a site.
      • Here is Julie’s own design favorites Pinterest board: Blog Designs
  • Colors
    • Sites for color scheme inspiration:
    • Each Color has a HEX code
      • a HEX code is six digits and a # at the start
        • for example: #ea1487
      • To get HEX values:
        • Colorexplorer.com
        • Cssdrive.com/imagepalette/index.php
        • depending on your computer, there may be a color browser built in


  • Fonts
  • Themes
    • Free Themes:
      • Pros of Free Themes
        • they are free
    • Premium Themes:
      • Pros of Premium Themes
        • Easier to customize
        • come with support and forums for help
        • have built-in functions, like SEO
        • note: these don’t apply to all premium themes, but most
      • Sites for Premium Themes
  • Sidebars
    • Keep ‘em clean!
      • Only put the most important items in your sidebars
      • if it doesn’t inspire readers to take action or guide them to useful or interesting content, get rid of it!
      • remember: a little bit of blank space is good!
    • Subscription Options Buttons
      • you can find them online
      • design your own
        • there are fonts which use social media logos/icons for characters which make designing simple buttons fairly easy
      • Code it in your widget
        • <a href=”URL TO LINK TO”><img src=”URL OF IMAGES” width=40px></a>


  • Implementing Your Own Design
        • Back up EVERYTHING.
    • Work in maintenance mode to see your progress before making it public.
    • Activate or upload your new theme
    • Change/adjust theme settings to your liking
    • Add any custom CSS, header/logo, images, etc
    • Julie recommends Firebug for Firefox
  • Hiring a Designer
    • An easy way to find someone you want to work with is looking to see what designer your favorite blogs used.
      • You can usually find this information in the footer
    • Know what you want for your design going in
      • the more specific you are with what you want, the more likely the designer will make something you love
    • Expect to pay anywhere from $100-$2,000
      • price depends on how much you want to have done
  • If you are looking for some extra blogging help visit Health Blog Helper.
  • If you want to start learning code, try Codecademy.
  • If you find yourself stuck, check the forums and reach out on twitter. Chances are another DIYer has faced a similar problem and may be able to lend some help.
    • Also try Google searching your problem. You can often find instructions or even YouTube videos on how to make it happen




Firebug for Firefox is super helpful. You can edit & preview what changes will look like before actually making any big changes! #HLSdesign
Courtney Weaver

side bars must inspire readers to take action #HLSdesign
Amy Sinclair

Want to start your own blog? These are the must haves: search and subscribe options, contact info, and about page with your pic! #HLSdesign
Meg Doll

Themes! If your self-hosted you can get fab custom themes all over the interwebz! Try http://t.co/NInKw2Wc or even Thesis! #HLSdesign
Courtney Weaver

a little white space is a beautiful thing! #hlsdesign
Healthy Living Blogs

pinterest and http://t.co/HVh9m3Og are great for finding blog design inspiration #HLSdesign
Amy Sinclair

Where should you host your site? Try dreamhost, bluehost, eleven2, hostgator or justhost to name a few. #HLSdesign
Courtney Weaver

Can’t wait to go back and play with my blog design. #hls12design

Want to learn how to code? Try http://t.co/VRYLtupH or http://t.co/Rg6JOtUf to learn about HTML and CSS. #HLSdesign
Courtney Weaver

Think of categories and tags as a cookbook. Ugh, now I'm hungry. #HLSdesign #HLS12

Want to make your wordpress site mobile friendly, try the WPtouch plugin #HLSdesign
Courtney Weaver

Great tips on blog design from @!! Can't wait to start the redesign!!! #hlsdesign



The CHASE Project: Blog Design Boot Camp
A Dash of Meg: Blog Design Boot Camp
It’s a Harley Life: #HLSDesign
My Yogurt Addiction: The Sessions


Julie is the blogger behind Savvy Eats, where she uses her food science & engineering background to teach readers about making the most of their time, money and ingredients with weekly menus, experiments on the best way to store foods and canning and freezing instructions.  She also blogs about gardening, recipes and appreciating the little things in life.  Julie serves as a blog designer forSavvy Blog Services, a teaching and editorial assistant for Cook ‘n Scribble, and  an administrator for the Healthy Living Blogs community website.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: