Popcosmo

a blog for everyone and their mothers

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New Year, New Blog Design

All, BLOG TIPS, EXTRASKim & Chloe
Blog Design

How to design the perfect blog layoutChloe and I are at it again… we can't seem to leave (almost) well enough alone and tweaked our blog design again. Maybe it's just the DIY-ers in us, maybe it's because we were on vacation and didn't have access to all our crafts, but one day, maybe it was a really snowy one, we just decided our website needed modifying. Again. Which got us thinking: what makes a blog design effective? What do we look for when we find a blog that makes us think gosh, our website needs updating yet again? Let's start at the top and work our way down, realizing this is what we like (i.e., tips) not hard and fast rules! Header: A header should be distinctive and express your personality and tell your reader who you are or what you do. If I had my way, Popcosmo would have one look and stay the same year to year. But that's me. Chloe, as a teen, is evolving and her taste is changing dramatically year to year. And since she is the designer, her opinion rules, so our header has changed frequently, but one element has stayed consistent: we've always had a heart somewhere in our logo. But we haven't been able to find a heart we like with this new logo!

Consistency is queen (behind creativity) even when your logo changes; but, if you're going to make a dramatic change, then more power to you. If you have a "signature," like our heart, then work around it. We tended to make a change when we rebrand, and then we tweaked the logo to and layout to better express us.

Also, popcosmo doesn't mean anything, we made sure that we mention that we "are a blog for moms, teens and everyone in-between" somewhere on our homepage. BOTH of these items (heart and tagline) are still being fiddled with by us, so check back to see how we resolve them :)

Here's our logo design evolution from our teen site to our present day mom/teen site above. The last two were designed by Chloe:How to design a logo Logo Design Logo Design

 

Navigation: Being able to access and navigate around a website should be easy. For instance, if it takes 3 click just to find a story, I'm leaving. Secondarily to reading what is on the landing page, you want your reader to be able to easily navigate through your site. There are typically 3 ways a reader will do this:

  • Menu - typically below the header or on the sidebar. Although they look great on the sidebar, Chloe designed ours below the header, which we both like the look of and the ease of for the reader. A simple drop-down menu is simple for the reader and instinctive when they are looking for where to go.
  • Search Bar - ours is above the fold on every page and critical since we have so many articles that go back more than a few pages
  • Highlighted Posts - We use WP plug-ins and saw a dramatic rise when we installed them. We also added some sections on the sidebar (those big black circles to your right) that weren't on the main menu (but are on the drop-down menu, i.e., Blog Tips). We also have our most popular posts highlighted on the sidebar. It seems a bit like overkill when I write this out, but each person reading a different story will see a different "popular" post or highlighted post and hopefully inspire them to linger longer.

Call to Action: Do you want your reader to sign up for emails or comment? Do you want them to pin a picture, G+, or follow you on Instagram? Then you have to ask very nicely, or hint very loudly, so we make sure our share buttons are prominent at the end of each story. I have to admit, we don't ask our readers to share enough (hey y'all, we love when you share, and we really love it when you follow us on Instagram or Twitter and especially when you leave a comment or share a DIY with us!) but the point is make sure you are asking your readers to do something when they visit you or they'll just pop by and leave.

Font and background:

Don't underestimate the power of design and font!  Chloe and I kid about it, but we'll absolutely pick a restaurant because of a cool font (hello Kitchen in Denver). Won't you leave a website that has a sloppy font and is impossible to read?

We do argue about centered fonts - I can't stand them, she loves them. So, this section is for her. Generally, script fonts are pretty but hard to read. 3-4 fonts should be plenty.  Since we are both font crazy, agreeing on fonts caused considerable arguments, but I think we've finally found a middle ground!

Sidebar: KISS. Yep, Keep It Simple, Stupid. We have so much information we'd love to put in our sidebar, but we just resist the urge. We don't run ads, so that's one thing that keeps it clean, but ads are $$$, so we are considering them. Just make sure they are kept to the same size or within the same block so it doesn't look cluttered. Another idea is to move your ads to the bottom of your sidebar or to the footer.

Happy Thanksgiving

Photos: The bigger the better. Yep, really. Well, sort of. Make them as wide as possible. Know your margins and make the width of your photos the same as your content. It's all about visual appeal and a photo that aligns with your copy is visually appealing. Of course, it can't always be the same width, so center them if they can't be as wide as your copy. If they are larger than your margins, then resize before importing to help with your website speed.

Here's why… you see the same photo above and below, but which looks better?

Happy Thanksgiving

Color: In this case, less is more. Generally, 3-4 colors make a pleasing web design palette and are visually appealing. But we've seen designs with more and less that also work. This is simply a style question of what best represents you, and is not jarring for your readers. Consider how much color will be in your photos / posts and make sure you won't overwhelm your reader, or conversely, that there will be enough color to interest your reader. But, don't forget about whitespace… it can be the difference between a good homepage and a great homepage. Whitespace separates blocks of information and can create balance on a page, which will give it uniformity without clutter.

Contact: Can your readers and brands reach you? Is your contact info on your homepage or readily apparent? Ours is on our advertising page, our press page, and who we are page. We want people to read about us to make sure it's a good fit, BUT we are considering adding an email icon to the homepage.

Consistency: Check the overall design for mood, consistency and balance. Consistency in design allows the eye to flow from one area to the next without distraction and enhances the reader's experience, which in the end, will make them want to come back. And isn't that what we all want?

Are there any web design tips you want to share? Or any web design quirks that drive you crazy? Or any web design advice you want to share with us?

xox ~Kim

 

 

 

 

Valentine's Day Date Dreamin'

All, BOOKS & MOVIES, EXTRASKim & Chloe

Valentine's Day movie

Nothing, absolutely nothing, makes me happier than to get lost in a great book or movie. One that makes me forget where I am and what I'm doing. One that tells a love story in a unique way and touches me so deeply that I tear up a little, maybe even so much that I sniffle, and finally have to dig around for a tissue after when I can no longer pretend I have something in my eye. After watching the trailer for Winter's Tale, I've decided it's the romantic movie for my Valentine's Day date this year… and since it opens in theaters February 14th, I'm planning my perfect Valentine's dream night around it.

My dream Valentine's Day would be something like this…. it would begin with a flower delivery from from Lavender Hill saying, "Surprise, guess who's coming home tonight?" {My hubby commutes from the west, so this would be the perfect start to the perfect date, obviously!} I'd have his favorite drink to greet him, the only kitchen-ly duty I'm good at, and since he was a like a fish to water during our  bourbon tasting, I'd make him an old-fashioned. Then we'd head out to his choice of restaurants because he's the foodie. We have so many amazing restaurants in Louisville like Proof on Main or 610 Magnolia, that I'm happy anywhere he chooses as long as there is champagne involved.

A Winter's Tale Movie

But I'm in charge of entertainment. We both love a good tearjerker movie, so the highlight of the evening will be 2 hours of uninterrupted romantic escape at Winter's Tale. It's the perfect night to see a romantic movie about crossed destinies and romance through the ages. Plus, what a cast! I'm a huge fan of Colin Farrell, who is always the perfect mix of charming and witty. And it also stars Russell Crowe, consistently tough, and Jessica Brown Findlay, who we all might know better as Lady Sybil Crawley / Branson from Downton Abbey. An Oscar-worthy cast, right?!

I'm even pinning Valentine's ideas here to get ready. Follow along!

Winter's Tale Pinterest

And if all goes well, the night of romance may just be beginning when the movie ends….

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by WB Winter's Tale through their partnership with POPSUGAR Select. While I was compensated to write a post about WB Winter's Tale, all opinions are my own.

Really Cool Business Cards

All, BLOG TIPS, EXTRASKim & Chloe

You all know that I I adore designing websites and and logos and have really enjoyed being able to design them for other people. So it's no surprise that I'm obsessed with looking at other peoples websites. But what I love even more than websites is business cards. Perhaps it's because my mom always says that "you never get a second chance to make a first impression." And when it comes to introductions of your blog, website or business, this advice is also true, which is why I think my mom and I are obsessed with business cards. When someone hands me a card that feels good, looks good, and somehow captures their character or the character of their blog, then I am totally impressed. And what do I do when I'm impressed (besides gushing so much that I not only embarrass them but also make a fool of myself)? I scope out their website! And isn't that exactly what you want someone to do when you hand them your card? As we've probably mentioned, we were at the #CricutExplore event sponsored by Cricut earlier this week. We were humbled to be invited with so many top crafting bloggers and meet people we'd been reading. We received some cool business cards, just a few of which we'll share with you. I wish we could have gotten a card from everyone (and I wish I could have taken the entire week off and stayed for Alt so I could have seen and learned more)! Next year….

cool business cards

left: The Proper Pinwheel's card is packaged in a clear pillow enveloped with an included tiny DIY banner in her color scheme and glitter dots and paper shreds which makes you feel like you are unwrapping a present. Sort of like when you scroll through her blog, it's a real treat!

middle: the card by Say Yes is bright and cheery, just like the site. Three cheers for perfect branding!

right: ok, so Kori Clark not only drew the spot near where I used to live and had my Bat Mitzvah in Rosemary Beach, Florida (is it a small world or what?!) but has the perfect card to showcase her talent as an illustrator and stationery designer. Her card folds fold up, there are 2-sided cards with her beyond adorable drawings inside.

business cards from alt

left: creativity without spending a cent? Crème de la Craft created her cards from cereal boxes, which represents her blog, since it's tagline is "DIY projects made from everyday objects."

middle: Handmade Charlotte's card is chic and simple with a bright back. It's bold and stands out, which totally matches Charlottes playful, sweet and generous personality.

right: sometimes simplicity speaks for itself, as in Brooklyn wedding designer Michelle Edgemont's bold gold leaf foil star.

creative business cards

left: Caravan Shoppe made an interactive rocket. Need we say more from a brand that creates downloadable templates for  you to create fab paper products at home. Branding perfection!

middle: The Cricut Explore cuts, scores, draws and cleans your room. Well, it probably could do the latter since it seems like it can do just about anything. And since a regular shape card turns into an origami-like box that I'm displaying on my desk, I'd say not only is the Cricut Explore a piece of art, so is this business card.

right: So my mom might have a girl crush on Whippy Cake and her adorable retro style and fashion-forward hair, and trust me, you will too when you take a look at her blog. Her card is simple and refreshing… just like her!

really cool business cards

As you might have noticed, I've changed the look of our blog a few times lately and we are pretty close to being finalized with how we like it. Pretty close! Which means, you guessed it, I can start designing our new business cards on Minted. And I have plenty of inspiration thanks to my new friends.

xo ~chloe