Monday, August 12, 2013

Time for a Facelift!

I have some serious "blog envy" when it comes to seeing "fancy" blogs that are decked out with neat extras, like a neat background, a cool header, navigation bar, buttons, pictures, etc. I've tried my best to learn how to do things to enhance my blog, but my know-how still comes up short when it comes to knowing how to make my blog fancy and appealing like some of the other ones I admire.

A couple of months ago I stumbled upon Kassie Garlock's blog, Designs by Kassie. She does graphic design and makes all sorts of things, like custom designs for blogs, websites, Facebook and Etsy pages, plus logos and one-of-a-kind business cards, invitations, announcements and more. I wish I had the talent and ability to do graphic design and be really skilled with Photoshop and other design programs, but I don't, which is unfortunate since that sort of creativity is right up my alley. I'm sure I could learn to do graphic design with some tips/coaching, but it's one of those things where I don't know how or where to get started.

After finding Kassie's blog, I really enjoyed perusing her portfolio, especially the custom blog designs that she's created for peoples' blogs. I started thinking, "Why not hire someone to make a custom design for me since that's something I'd really like, but don't know how to do for myself..." So I filled out an order form and started the ball rolling.

When I first started toying with the idea of having someone make a custom design for my blog, I wasn't sure  what sort of design to go for. I was originally thinking something clean and professional-looking and not too flashy, but as you can see that's not quite how things ended up! :) When my sister Sharon visited last month, I talked about it with her to get her advice since she has a good eye for artistic things. We looked at Kassie's portfolio and talked about things we liked or didn't like and started getting some ideas for my blog.

Color Scheme: I knew I wanted something cheery and colorful, but I wasn't sure what avenue I ultimately wanted to take: pastel and subdued, or bright and bold. Sharon suggested something bright to draw people in, and I agreed. Green is my favorite color, so I knew I wanted bright green as the main color, and then accents of bright yellow since I love the way bright green and yellow look together. I felt like something was missing, so I also incorporated bright pink, since it also looks great with green and yellow.

Personality/Feel: I was originally thinking of something more on the serious and subdued side, but things started to evolve and change as I worked on the particulars. Settling on fonts was easier said than done. I've come to realize that just because you like a particular font, doesn't necessarily mean that every word or phrase is going to look good in that particular font, depending on what letters are next to each other. I don't know if that makes sense, but some words just don't look good in some fonts!

First Impressions Are Everything: As awful as it sounds, I totally "judge a book by its cover." The same goes for blogs and websites, too. I'm a busy person, and I know that when I'm searching the web and looking at different websites, if a site isn't visually pleasing and doesn't grab me and draw me in from the get-go, I most likely am going to move on to the next website/blog since I really don't have the time to invest in reading it to see if it's worth my time. I think my blog is great, and I want people to stop and stay awhile, so I don't want it being a "diamond in the rough" because my blog design is bland.

Subtitle/Tagline: Kassie wanted to know if I wanted her to put a tagline on my blog. I was obviously going to stick with "Paralyzed with Joy!" for my title, but I decided to drop "The Joyful Life of a Quadriplegic." Instead of having a tagline, I decided to use a quote. Several months ago I found a quote on Pinterest that I loved: "Life isn't supposed to PARALYZE you, it's supposed to help you DISCOVER who you are." I think that quote pretty much sums me and what I'm all about up to a T, so I wanted to make it a permanent part of my blog.

Tweeks/Revisions: Kassie did several revisions for me so that I could try different things "on for size" which I appreciated since you never really know how something's going to look until you actually see it in place. I'll be the first one to admit that I'm particular. :) I have a critical eye when it comes to the way things look, and I like them to be "just right." I was nervous to ask Kassie to change things at first because I really didn't want to hurt her feelings, or make her think that I didn't like what she was coming up with (because I really did like most of the things she came up with). She was very patient with me and changed/tweaked everything until I loved it!

$$$: I know if I were reading this post I would be curious how much it costs to have someone make a custom design, so I'll just tell you how much I paid… Kassie charged me $130 for everything, including the design (I opted for the ultimate package), revisions, installation, etc. I know money is a relative thing and $1 can mean something very different to different people, but I thought the price was really reasonable.

"So Me!": I don't know about you, but I LOVE the way it turned out! At first I worried that my blog design might come across as a little too "young" or juvenile with the bright colors and stars and such, but that sort of thing is just "so me" because I really like pretty things! I think that anyone that knows me well that looked at my blog the would say, "that's Heather!" Most of all, I think the look of my new blog exudes joy and happiness, and that's me to a T!

Before and After: A definite improvement, in my opinion!

About Kassie: Even though Kassie was/is a perfect stranger, I've started feeling like I actually know her since I've spent so much time looking at her blog. Plus, we've been emailing a bunch during this process (albeit these emails were strictly "business"). I'm the kind of person that likes getting to know people, so I started sneaking some personal questions into our emails. She sweetly indulged me and answered all my questions.

Here's a little bit more about her: She's the same age as I am (29) and is a married mother of three (soon to be four). She started doing blog/graphic design as a way to work from home and make some extra money after she became a mother. Kassie said she LOVES graphic design and wouldn't do anything else. I asked her how many blog designs she usually works on at any given time, and she said between 5 – 7 on average (although right now she's currently working on 12!).

Any time I'd email Kassie with new things I wanted her to try, she would always get back to me the next day with the revisions completed. Her speed really impressed me, and the whole process from when I submitted my order form to completion was less than three weeks. It would've been sooner, I'm sure, except I'm picky and kept asking her to change things! ;) She didn't seem to mind, though, and assured me it was all part of the process. She said at least I knew what I wanted, which is better/less frustrating than having someone not like their design, but not really know WHAT they want, making it difficult to know what direction to go in for the design.

Kassie gets my unsolicited recommendation, so if you're in the market for any sort of graphic design project and are looking for someone good, check Kassie out; she does great work!


Rachael said...

It's looking fabulous! (and I really appreciated the before & after pictures in your post too. I mostly read via email subscription, so it's nice to be reminded of what it used to look like). I love the green!

Kate said...

It looks great! I love it! :)

Julie said...

It looks brill. I especially like the yellow & pink.

You & Kassie are both very talented.

By the way, I'm fussy/picky about things like this too.

Well done:)

B Dav said...

Definitely love the new layout!
The colors are fantastic!
Britt @ One&20

jamie @ [kreyv] said...

Love it!

Christine said...

It's very cheerful, Heathet. You did a good job!

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