Monday, 1 February 2016

Why You Should Design Your Blog For Yourself First, and Everyone Else Second

Have you ever been to a special event, a family occasion, or even brunch with a significant other and put on an outfit that you didn't feel comfortable in? Maybe the dress was too tight, or the style a little off, or whatever you were wearing didn't fit, or the shoes were a little too - not you.

I have.

I went to my Grandfather's funeral in a suited-and-booted outfit that I hated. I felt uncomfortable. I felt like an impostor. I felt like I was lying to my Grandfather whom, as dead as he was, knew I wasn't being myself. I felt like I was lying to those around me, family and friends who knew the kind of person I was, the kind of person that doesn't wear a suit to a funeral. I felt like I was lying to myself.

Scratch that. I was lying to myself.

I was pretending to be somebody I wasn't because of tradition, because of the word of somebody else. I spent the day I was meant to spend remembering a great man whom I loved dearly, fidgeting with my outfit, nagging my Mother as to when we would be leaving, just so I could take off the stupid suit.

Dressing up your blog in a specific way because somebody else says you should is like going to a funeral in an outfit you would rather see burn alongside the coffin. Dressing up your blog in a specific style because one person says it's the 'right thing to do' is like covering up your body you spend 5 hours a day working on keeping fit because showing off some leg is some how taken as an invitation.

Designing your blog based on somebody else's idea of what your blog should be like, is stupid.

I spent a long time letting my stupidity rule the roost. In terms of design, I quite liked what I had, but it never felt entirely me. I felt like I was wearing whatever I wanted to that funeral, but still had on the suit jacket and shoes because it would have impolite if I didn't. God forbid I do something somebody else didn't like, or didn't enjoy, or didn't what to see.

Your blog may serve to help others, but it's you that serves them. You wouldn't stand on a stage reading a speech you didn't write nor believe in to people you wanted to respect you, so don't design your blog in a way that doesn't feel honest and true to yourself, and be disappointed when you're branded a fake.

It fascinates me that it seems to be the bloggers and business woman that teach other people that fall into the trap of being somebody they're not. Of all the people to succumb to the pressure, the people advising you, teaching you, showing you how to be the best you are should be the least likely, and yet I see it everyday. There is no denying a brand goes a long way in creating a solid foundation on which to launch anything, including just a 'blog' - but making it you is far more important.

This is the exact reason I made changes to Nellie and Co. last week. I didn't want to wear that suit jacket and shoes anymore. I didn't want to continue doing something just because somebody else said I should. I wanted my design to reflect me more honestly, both in tone and in style, so I changed it.

I adopted a more greyscale design

I enjoyed the pop of colour Nellie and Co. had through its graphics and it's sidebar categories, but eventually, that excitement disappeared and dwindled the more I felt myself changing personally, and I fell out of love with it, which is the worst kind of feeling when you're getting back on the bandwagon. I found myself really wanting to throw out those colours and go completely greyscale, but with a lack of textures, I knew it'd feel a tad too bare, a tad too cold, ironically, a tad unlike me, until I remembered my Instagram comeback earlier this year.

I've really enjoyed getting back into my photography over the last month, and while my Instagram page is much more book orientated, I have been taking an equal amount of bloggish photography too, which has found it's way into my new graphics, creating the new style. It's also this new lease of photography life that went a long way in designing the new sidebar and my categories menu. I've always been a fan of interesting :hover effects, but the current effect was one I'd been itching to create, and I'm pleased I did.

I changed the fonts I used

Making the decision to go greyscale and throwing out my old colour scheme meant I needed something that brought a little twang to the design, and interesting, both you (through my survey back in October) and myself were getting tired of the fonts I used on Nellie. The constant capitals in the headers and the Impact font on my graphics never felt as though they really gelled all that much. A new font was in order.

Interestingly, I didn't actually need to play with my fonts all that much before I found one I really liked. Playfair Display on first glance looks a little too playful, and it's punctuation a little too fancy, especially when I considered the look I was going for, and yet it felt absolutely perfect from the first moment I used it. Whether it be in capital form, as seen in my header and in my graphics, or normal, as seen in my post headers, post titles and sidebar, it provides Nellie and Co. with a shape, eye catching detail Nellie previously relied on colours to achieve.

Finding the complimenting font for general overall use through the blog provided more difficult. I weighed using Georgia for a short amount of time based on how easily resourceable it is through all my design apps and programs, but found it felt just a little too used on other blogs and put it aside. I also considered Cardo for quite a while, and found it worked really well with Playfair Display - that and Picmonkey had the font in their collection, which would have made creating graphics super easy should I have needed it. In the end, I went for Cambria, a more traditional font and universally used, quite similar in shape to Cardo, but with a softer edge.

I revamped my header and logo

I've always had a thing for elephants, even from a young age. Whenever I went to the zoo, the elephants would be the most magnificent of all the animals, how gentle and calm they were around people and the zookeepers, but you just knew that should anyone get the wrong side, there's a temper of steel in there too. I've always admired elephants for that. That and they're grey, my favourite colour.

I really wanted my header to provide a little bit of fun, snark and humour, something a lot of my friends and family know me for having, while still being professional, and I certainly didn't want to evacuate Nellie from her spotlight. She's not only special to me, but to my brand too. By using one of the additional silhouette logos I created when I first established Nellie, I tossed out the O and put Nellie right front and centre, and after letting it stew for a few hours, fell absolutely in love with the simplicity of it.

Erin says it best in her post: your business is not all about your clients:
What you do have to do, is be comfortable with you are, and what you want to offer. When you do that, you’ll attract the right kind of people and your connections and brand will be genuine.

You come first. Create a cohesive and comfortable brand around yourself.
- Erin (

Throwing out what wasn't me in my old design went miles in making me feel more comfortable and honest with myself. I'm not a bright, bubbly person, but I'm not a harsh, monotone and unappreciative person either. I may not like the bright lights of the city, but I love subtly, I love elegance, I love being sarcastic, I love being brash and I like being sharp around the edges, so it's only right that my blog be that way too.

Don't go to that funeral in a suit you don't like and go in whatever you feel the most comfortable in. Put on that casual T-shirt and black jeans, and where those black pumps instead of heels, because in the end, people don't care about what you were wearing, they care about the service and whether it reflects the person behind it.

Don't design your blog for somebody else, design it for you.
After all, it's your blog. You call the shots.

Tell me, is your current design for you, or other people?


  1. I've always designed for myself, and always blogged for myself, which is why I've never done a survey at Happy Indulgence. I definitely think staying true to yourself is the key to enjoying blogging. I'm glad you are feeling like this is more you Amanda! It looks great :)

    1. I've never noticed you've never done a survey, but it does make sense. You don't need to if you're happy to just blog on the whole for yourself, and that's great. Huge thanks Jeann! :)

  2. I LOVE IT AMANDA. I LOOOOOVE IT. I mean, I liked your old design?? But this one is just a zillion times better, I think. And I really like the photography with the greyscale sort of effect and the font is AMAZING. <3 Love. So just, omg, I really agree with everything you're saying. *nods* I think my blog has always been pretty much ME? But then I also change a lot and so does my blog. Although I really want to change my font. Not that it's an awful font? I just don't think it's super easy to read...0_0 But seeing as I have no idea what to change it to...I'm lazy and have done NOTHING. Gah. Ahem. But I should put that back on the to-do-list.

    (Also I love your new header. <33)

    1. Ahhh, I mean, you're words make me so happy Cait because I was so worried. Everyone else is colourful and bright and I'm just not, and I wanted to be honest to myself, and that was always important to me, so thank you! Paperfury always looks like you, but it's because it changes as you do, and that's okay. In terms of fonts, just have a play around, and save a few options as an image and look on them over a few hours or days until one settles that you love, it's what I did :D

      I'm in love with my new header too, header love, woop woop!<3

  3. I think it all looks amazing. I do struggle with this and I think that my current design is a mix of the problem is that I don't 100% know myself I guess and the second I paid for that design I wanted something simpler and more elegant :(

    Kudos to you for knowing yourself and being true to yourself.

    1. I think that's why I'll always DIY. The only persons time I'm using is mine, and if I want to change something, I can. It's an unusual decision for most bloggers, but I love having that freedom and not being stuck with a design I don't feel. I do however like your design, it's feminine and sweet, and I love the cats. Maybe take some time to get to know yourself and explore what you love, be it bright colours or photography, then see where the future takes you :)

  4. IT IS SO PRETTY!! I am madly, and deeply in love with your new design! Teach me your ways!! xD I always struggle with finding a design I like, the fact I know absolutely nothing about coding is one reason, and another is that I am always changing my mind... Currently I am liking my design as I have done as much as I could, while doing 0 coding, so thats pretty cool...

    1. Aw, thank you Maya. I am considering sharing some easy ways to make a Blogspot blog look less like one, and I'm in the middle of considering topics, so maybe one day I will teach you the ways. I do think your blog looks pretty good for not knowing any code, so good one you hunny! :)

  5. I think your design is absolutely fabulous -- the grey you've chosen is really fantastic, and I love your graphics font, and I love your photography too! As for myself, I've found the right colour palette, still working on the fonts and the logo. This is a lovely reminder, Nellie!

    1. Thank Alyssa! I find grey is a controversial colour choice, it's not one most bloggers choose, so I feel it helps my brand too across social media. I love your colour choices too, but the font will come, as will the logo, just keep playing and testing until you find what fits :)

  6. Love this post. Always be yourself and go with your own style. I went to a network meeting once in a dark grey dress which I love. Someone asked what my business was and I explained that I was a life coach. They insantly said "Oh you should be wearing brighter colours!" I was shocked. I wear clothes and choose colours for my home and business I love. I wish the whole world would just focus on what they love rather than expecting certain things from others.