October 14, 2015

Designing your blog - start with a style guide


Whether you are just starting a new blog or you are thinking about a blog makeover it can be pretty damn hard to select a color and font style for your blog. But it is critical for the end result that you really set a specific color palette and font style for the layout. Being consistent in your use of colors, illustrations and font styles throughout your blog layout will give it a professional look and will even keep your readers on your blog for longer. We all have come across blogs that are all over the place style wise. The blogger uses all colors of the rainbow and a new font style in almost every new line of text. This often creates a very messy look and while the blog content might be worth reading, these layouts often scare me away immediately. Just because the great stories are hard to read with all this stuff going on.

So your blog's look is what your readers will see first. And it has to be stylish. Now, how do you create a style that suits you personally but still creates a good blog layout? You start out with making a style guide! It doesn't matter if you are creating the layout yourself or you are hiring a designer to do it for you. A style guide is a great tool to develop a beautiful blog design.

WHAT EXACTLY IS A STYLE GUIDE?

A style guide or color palette / font palette/ style palette, whatever you want to call it, is basically nothing more than an image that incorporates all style items you would love in your blog layout. You can see some style guide images below:


- style guide made for a client of mine -


- a style guide made by www.violetwedding.com -

WHAT IS INCLUDED IN A STYLE GUIDE?

A style guide often includes the following:

* some stylish images that display the look and feel you want to give your blog. These images contain the color tones you love and often display the subject that your blog will be about. So if you are into interior design you might want to choose interior design images, if you are into fashion you select fashion images and if you are into nature or family you look for images in color tones that represent these subjects
* once you have selected some beautiful style images you select a couple of color tones that you would love to use in your layout
* you also go look for font styles that you want to incorporate and you put them on your style guide as well
* and if you want to spice up your layout with illustrations (think watercolor, bohemian style images like arrows or floral images etc.) you find some of these illustrations and add them as well

WHERE TO FIND INSPIRATION

For the style images you want to surf the internet, Pinterest or free stock photo sites like www.unsplash.com.

For font style inspiration you can visit free font sites like:

If you really like those calligraphy, script like fonts you might want to check out the fonts on Creative Market. They are not free, but it might be worth the investment and if you are working with a designer, he or she might have a similar font in his/her collection.

For color inspiration you can take the style images you have chosen. To find out which exact color codes (HEX-codes) the colors in the image have, you can upload your image to Colors From Image. This is a neat little program that helps you find out the color codes of colors you love. I have written a blog post about this program as well.

And if you don't find enough color inspiration in your style images, you can always check out Design Seeds. This websites has tons of beautiful color palettes and it also gives you the color codes with it!

Inspiration for illustrations can of course come from the internet, Pinterest or from other blogs.


HOW TO CREATE A STYLE GUIDE

So now that you have collected your style images, color tones and font style images you want to combine them on a digital sheet so that you actually create one image showing off the complete style you have in mind for your blog layout. This is done with an image editing program like Photoshop or a free program like Photoscape. You basically start out with a blank background in any size you like and then paste your collected images (style images, color images, font images and illustrations) onto that background.

But what if you are not so tech savvy and you have no idea how to create a style guide with these image editing programs? Don't worry. There's always good old Pinterest! If you haven't already, you can create a free account on there, then create a new 'board' as they call it and start pinning your style images, color palettes and font images on the board. If you are working with a designer you can give your designer a link to your style board to get an impression of what you have in mind for your new layout.

And did you know that you can create a style guide for other things as well? If you are planning a home makeover or moving to another home, you can create a style guide for your home interior decoration. You can even make a style guide per room. And while it is a great tool to find out what you really want from a design, it is also a fun project to work on!
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