In the unlikely event I have any regular readers, they may have noticed I’ve been revamping the look of the blog, to make it a bit cleaner and easier to navigate. I was especially inspired by the open friendliness and welcoming feel of one of my favorite travel bloggers, Kylie at Between England and Iowa, and the neat prettiness of Brey at Ordinary Adventures.
The first thing I did was identify what I didn’t like about my blog (messy and inconsistent) and what I did like about the other blogs. (Neat lay out, less cluttered, both introduce themselves as bloggers). Then I took a look at the themes the blogs I like used.
TOP TIP: If you want to see what theme a blog uses, hover over the pop up menu in the bottom right of your screen that tells you you are following the blog and then hit the dots for extra information.
Checking this information isn’t about copying someone else’s blog, it’s about looking for inspiration, and also about ensuring you don’t end up with a carbon coy of someone else’s blog. So for example I steered clear of Toujours , the layout for Between England and Iowa, since Kylie and I both blog about immigration and travel and I felt it would be too much like copying her. Ordinary Adventures is much more of a fashion/makeup lifestyle blog, so I felt comfortable that I could use the same theme, while maintaining a very different blog identity.
Compared to my old theme Twenty Twelve , Gateway gives a cleaner looking top image and neater menus. So instead of having to choose between displaying the title of the blog or having a picture at the top, I can now have the title and tag line over my image.
Another thing I really like about Gateway is the ability to randomly rotate the header picture. So instead of having one picture that only relates to the long distance part of mine and JT’s story, which is actually behind us now, I can select photographs I have taken on my travels through the USA. As well as showcasing my photographs, it makes the blog theme unique to me.
Gateway also showcases your featured image next to an except of the post, so my next job was to go through all my posts and ensure I had selected an appropriate photograph for each.
Then it was time to check the widgets. As you will recall, I learned the hard way that changing themes, switches off widgets, while doing the Blogging 101 course. So I carefully went back and added in my twitter feed, a follow me button and a list of subjects and posts. I kept the comments and blogs I follow and added in my Gravatar profile as a quick introduction and also added my Instagram feed.
Then I checked the preview on a couple of blog pages. Sadly the one downside to Gateway is it doesn’t support pulling block quotes to the left like Twenty Twelve did. (Which gave it a magazine feel) So I have had to go through and manually delete the old block quotes where I’d duplicated the text to make it sit in the right place on the page, before reselecting the text I want to block quote.
However, it is the only downside to my new theme and otherwise I am absolutely loving that it looks like my blog grew up!