I have been following Lori (@aCowboysWife) on Twitter for quite sometime. She is a fellow blogger and also a Walmart Mom. I often tweet about the different projects I am working on and this often draws in new clients, which is fabulous. Lori reached out to me to create a button ad for one of her websites. I also suggested possibly updating the logo design. She was leery at first, but I assured her that I would do a great job. When I emailed her the drafts, she was thrilled. She then asked me to take a look at her blog to see how we could give it a makeover. She was using an older version of the Studiopress Lifestyle theme and she wasn’t utilizing some of the great functions that Lifestyle offers for the homepage and the featured sections.
We talked through some ideas and I had her come up with a list of categories that she wanted to feature. I also presented my usual list of design questions concerning the header graphic which would ultimately be the focal point. The header tells the story. It gives the site a visual explanation of who the blogger is without even having to read the content.
Lori did not give me much to go with concerning the design. She did say she was pretty open, which is actually a nice thing for a designer. It gives us a lot of freedom which we don’t often have because of people wanting something specific. The things that Lori did mention were:
- Colors to be used – “I like all sorts of colors. I like browns, blacks, turquoise–idk, I’m fairly open”
- Colors NOT to be used – “Bright colors like orange, pink, green”
- Images to be incorporated – “I’m open…not sure if personal photos of my cowboys should be kept in or not”
This is a screenshot of her site BEFORE the makeover.
I really love the idea of the “C” being a horseshoe, but as you can see it just doesn’t pop. I also liked the idea of using leather which was utilized in her original design. And she still wanted to incorporate some of her photos (which are gorgeous by the way). So, first thing was to find a leather background that would work well. This is one of the ones I found. The texture is awesome, right?
Then I had to look for the right font. This is something that is really important in a design. This was fairly easy because there was a theme behind this design – Cowboy / Western. I went to one of my favorite (free) font sites DaFont.com and they have a whole category for “Western” fonts. I downloaded 5 or 6 different options and played around with them for both the title and tagline. I then tested the fonts by incorporating several different color options that would work against the brown leather. I finally ended up using turquoise which was one of Lori’s colors that she had mentioned liking.
Wow, looks great, right? And I am even loving the tagline font that looks like the wording was actually branded onto the leather. But I still think it needs more. I want it to POP. So, I went ahead and added some shading, a gradient, and some inset beveling to the turquoise. I also found a realistic horseshoe graphic to incorporate. Wow, much better right?
The next challenge was to incorporate Lori’s beautiful photos. She gave me a bunch to choose from.
But the photos really did not look right just laid onto the leather background. They needed something more. So I did more research and found some aged paper options. But those didn’t quite work either. Then I came across a really nice burnt paper graphic that worked perfect. And I threw in a little “Texas” graphic since Lori had also mentioned wanting that category to be a focus on her site.
By now, I am super psyched because it looks awesome, but how about going one step further and adding some additional embellishments? I went back to my research and found a paisley bandanna type design and incorporated that. I did give my client the option of the header with or without the additional embellishment and she choose it WITH. This is the final header design:
In all the header design process took about 2 1/2 hours including the image & font research, the creation of the design, and the email correspondence with the client. And believe me, Lori was quite easy to work with and we only needed a limited number of revisions.
The next step in the project was to begin the work on the actual WordPress Website Customization. I installed the new version of the Studiopress Genesis theme as well as the Lifestyle child theme. I then sized and installed the new header and began customizing the colors on the site to match the header. I incorporated the brown leather into the background of the site in a slightly more muted shade so that it would not compete with the header design. I then took the turquoise color and incorporated it into the featured section title bar backgrounds.
The next step was to create a few matching buttons that would link to the client’s Photography and Video categories as well as a matching button to feature her other sites. Here is an example. Super cute!
And here is a screenshot of the buttons used on the actual site:
The final customizations included creating a matching favicon and button ad.
So, there ya have it… that is exactly how I go from start to finish doing a blog makeover on a WordPress site. You would think it is fairly simple, but it really isn’t. There is a lot that goes into everything from the planning and preparation to research to building and even some custom coding in the css to adjust the colors and layout of a theme. I compare it to painting a picture. I am also an artist and have been painting murals for several years and it is the same process.
I think what I love best about graphic design is that I can take a client’s vision whether they know exactly what they want or whether they have no idea at all what they want. But I can come up with ideas and in the end create a design that they love and that represents them, their brand, their website in the best way possible.
Even if you are on a budget and cannot afford an entire makeover, just a custom blog header design can create a wonderful transformation. If you would like to discuss a makeover for your WordPress website or blog, please Contact Me today and I would be happy to work with you!
Quick Update: I am sad to say that this client has decided to take down their site in order to focus on other business ventures so you will not be able to see it live on the internet. That is the reason I removed the live link. Sorry about that guys!