Sunday, July 19, 2009

A (Divine) Plea For Help: Re-Brand This Blog

Looking to do a re-design of this blog, possibly even moving it to the Wordpress platform, mainly as an aid to stave off the deadly blogging malaise I and others have been afflicted with in the last few months. To coincide with this I'll be looking at posting on more general topics too so The Suicidal Zebra is less of a one-trick pony.

So, with this in mind, what do you guys think? Do you have any blogs that you think are great examples of design on the Blogger or Wordpress platform? What do you think is exemplifies good design of blogs and websites in general? Are there any old features of this blog which should be carried over?

Same goes for content.

This isn't an idle request, if I don't do something I'll probably end up blogging entirely. :(

14 comments:

Lance 19/07/2009, 16:15  

Check this:

http://www.ourblogtemplates.com/2008/11/blogger-template-professional-template.html

and this:

http://www.ourblogtemplates.com/2008/06/blogger-template-ultimatum.html

The second is what I am using more or less in my blog. I found the one I am using by far one of the best and most customizable blogger themes around. Most importantly the sub elements are controllable from the blogger gui itself, which means you can recolour it without messing with the code (although I had to because my hands are itchy).

The link will direct you to various themes based on the same html/css code.

Larísa 19/07/2009, 23:17  

http://inmysissyrobe.wordpress.com/

This is the best looking WoW blog I know at the moment. I love simple, strict, easy-to-read design. Preferrably on light background, since it's so much friendlier to the reader.

looking forward to read more general rants!

Klepsacovic 20/07/2009, 01:47  

I partially agree with Larisa's choice. The pure white of the background combined with almost entirely text, especially such a wide post area, makes it feel too open to me; open like caught in the middle of the Nagrand arena facing a ranged team. Yes, the layout lacks line of sight restrictions. Yes, I have a really strange way of seeing the world.

Suicidal Zebra 20/07/2009, 14:51  

@Lance

Thanks very much for the links. I should possibly admit to making calf eyes at your blogs layout for some time purely because it looks a lot more professional in it's layout than most WoW-Blogger sites. I'll have a long look at what OBT has to offer and investigate adapting it to my own needs.

@ Larisa

Thanks for the link :). I've not read Tamarind's blog before, it's a clear blog with nice clean lines isn't it. I think I'm with Klep in terms of limiting the stretch of the posting area so that widescreen monitor users find it a little less intimidating, but I'm coming around to the idea of starting with an uncomplicated concept and building on that. At the very least, black text on a white background would work well and doesn't always seem 'plain'.

@ Klep

*backs away slowly*


Thanks for your input everyone

Ardent Defender 20/07/2009, 15:05  

Can ask Matticus as well for some suggestions as well.

A revamp and a nice clean look and layout while easy to read as others have already suggested is ideal.

Hope you come up with something nice.

Keiya 20/07/2009, 19:09  

I think Wordpress has the most templates available in comparison to other systems (iir it's also the most popular platform). I've seen many very swank Wordpress blog layouts, though unfortuantely don't remember the URLs. Plenty to browse through at their site: http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/

I also like Larisa's link as it's clean and easy to read. Though, it would be better of the main column was about half as wide. I don't know if it's just me, but I find wide text sections hard to read when my eyes have to move across the page too much. IIRC, the ideal text line length for a web page is about 12 to 15 words per line.

Anyway, good luck in your theme search! I look forward to seeing what you pick :)

SolidState 20/07/2009, 21:16  

Everyone is giving you WoW related blogs, they aren't the only type of blog you can draw inspiration from though :)

http://www.joelonsoftware.com/ - I like the font used, the general layout is good too.

http://www.cringely.com/ - I'm of two minds about which is better on the front page, full articles or a first paragraph with a read more link. However if you prefer the 2nd style, this one uses a nice layout.

http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/ - right side bar, which sometimes I like better than a left one. Links are very clear, so are quotes (the big blue boxes). Lots of bolded words (well that's more style of writing tbh :)). Good font too.

I don't think there is a holy grail of good blog design, but there is one page element that can really give your site a boost - a good banner at the top. Look at all the sites I gave you (I especially like the one from Coding Horror - so fitting :)), as well as popular WoW ones such as Larisa's "Pink Pigtail Inn", "World of Matticus", "The Big Bear Butt". A good banner really captures the eye and the mind, and puts across the purpose of your blog without the reader having to read anything (or in the case of http://hgamer.blogspot.com/ you read the short text and after reading a few of his posts understand immediately what he means :)).

Sure, there are exceptions, such as Tobold. But frankly, he writes so well (and so much!) he doesn't need a banner.

So I would definitly take a look at making a banner for yourself. You can grab a few images from Google Image Search, mash them up together with some fancy looking text using Gimp and voila, instant attraction :)
(why don't I do this for my own site? I'm too lazy and not motivated enough :p)

Tom 20/07/2009, 22:17  

Well I certainly dont' like the current minimilistic white on grey going on. Your old one was pretty good I thought... That being said there is a wordpress blog out there that I think looks good.

http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/pyrmont-v2

and

http://wordpress.org/extend/themes/lightword

Blogspot is a good service but I don't think much of there themes

Larísa 20/07/2009, 23:11  

Please, please, save us from another blog with black background!
It breaks every rule I ever learned at graphic design. It's not friendly for the eye. It's not as bad as orange on green (which I've seen on a blog that is impossible to read.). But still... it's not good, even though it "looks nice".

Will Armstrong 21/07/2009, 04:25  

I second Larisa's statements regarding black backgrounds; it is naturally harder to read white on black rather than vice-versa. It causes more eye-strain, which in turn injures visitors to your blog.

Not very nice at all if you ask me.

If I have on piece of advice I can offer, it is this; blogging is not about having a cool-looking blog. It's about generating content worth reading. The visuals of your blog are not what should catch peoples' eyes; it should be your ideas and opinions.

Keiya 21/07/2009, 05:23  

Ditto on dark background layouts, stark white on dark black seriously makes my eyes hurt. Light gray on dark gray isn't too bad though.

Suicidal Zebra 21/07/2009, 23:06  

Thanks for the great input everyone, I'll see what I can come up with.

@ Will

I understand exactly where you are coming from Will. The problem is that over the last year I feel that I've painted this blog into a corner wrt what I post about and perhaps what I'm expected to post about. The idea behind this exercise is to re-focus this blog so that it's a blog about me and my thoughts rather than WoW in general and Ret Paladins in particular. I want to reach the position where I'm happy to blog about anything I want to, rather than feel that it's just not suitable.

theholylight 22/07/2009, 23:34  

If you are going to use the free blogging service with wordpress.com then you are limited to a quite a few templates. But you can't change them (i.e. color, size, etc) or use a template that is not part of the list. In a way you are limited.

If you are going to host your own wordpress blog then the templates are endless.

Blogger is nice because you can change the template.

Personally I prefer Wordpress

niren 13/08/2009, 09:56  

Really great ideas. I like every example. Just might have to try these... So cute! Thank you!
more templates easy to download

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