How to Start a Food Blog: Design and Branding (Part 2)

How to Start a Food Blog: Design and Branding

There are a lot of things that go into starting a website and getting it to look and function the way you want is a huge part of it. Looks are (almost) everything. Designing a food blog can get intense Before we dive into this, you might want to take some time to make a list of other blogs that you like, particularly. Break it down. What is it that appeals to you? What is it that makes you return to their site? What makes you pin their content? Narrow your list down to three or four favorites and really dissect what you like about them.

The design of your site encompasses more than just good looks, consider the functionality for you and the reader. When designing a food blog, always consider your audience.

1. Themes:
When you set up your blog, whether on Blogger or WordPress, you’ll have a bare-bones, generic theme that’s all ready to go and start blogging. Some people like to get a few posts up first, get some content in there and customize as they go. That’s fine, it will give you something to work with and might make things easier– you’ll be able to see what things look like and when you make changes you can see their effect. Keep in mind that your blog will grow with you, it’s going to evolve as you develop it, so don’t think of it as a finished product really. You can change your themes out as many times as you wish. There are plenty of free themes out there and you can test them out and see if they feel right, try on a few. These themes are customizable with your own logos, buttons and colors. The free themes are just fine to get started, chose one and go for it. When you get more serious about your site, you can purchase a theme or have one designed for you (although a custom site is much more costly). Once you’ve picked a theme, install it.

 

Creative Market: WordPress themes 
Installing  and using a WordPress Theme
How to Install a Blogger Theme
The Blog Stylist: Themes for Blogger (Gallery)

 

2. Branding:
If you’ve been following along, I asked you to make a list of sites you like with specifics; use that when considering your own branding. Make a list of what you want your site to contain– what your content is going to be. Are you a recipe blogger? Will you be giving restaurant reviews or recipes or writing essays on food?  Consider how you want these things reflected visually on your site. You might want your logo to contain clues about what your site is about. Use this to connect the dots through everything you do– if you’re selling something have the colors match. If you have a Twitter page use consistent colors, include your logo or use a picture to represent your blog. Consistency is key!

 


Create a “Mood Board”
A great step toward visualizing your site is to create a mood board.  All on one sheet you can collect inspiration, ideas, colors, fonts and words that inspire your site.
{Click HERE and HERE for two great examples. }
Take a look at the example below:

How-to Create a Mood Board

Some items you need to consider:
Colors- pick 3-5 colors that look nice together and keep these consistent throughout your site. Use these colors in your logo and on your buttons– and also on your links and body text.
Logo– You can create a simple logo or just keep it to a nice font if you’re not artistic. You can always have one designed later. I like to create a couple versions to use all over.
Tagline– add a tagline to your blog title so people know what your site is about. You don’t have to make it part of your logo but you’ll want one go-to-line to describe what your site is all about.
Fonts – choose one or two fonts, I like one fancy and one very plain and easy to read. Try to keep them consistent, even in the body of your blog.

 

Patterns– you may want a pattern in the background of your site. Not necessary, and clean, white space is very trendy right now, however, a pattern is a nice way to tie things together because you can use it in multiple places like the background of your twitter page and the display image on Facebook– just remember not to get too busy with it. You don’t want to distract people.

 

Buttons & Icons– I have included a set of social media icons that match my color scheme. Most themes come with these already installed but keep in mind that you can find tons of variations of these and it’s really nice to have them match. The set shown here includes more than you will likely use, but it’s nice to know they’re there as you develop your social media strategy down the road.

 

Another great tool I like to use is Pinterest. You can keep a secret board and gather pins that inspire you for your site as well as tips and tutorials on blogging. And if you’re having a professional designer get involved, this is a great way to communicate with them about what you like and the look you’re trying to achieve.

 

Branding Your Blog // Why is it so important? 
Blog Branding Tips : Amy Lynn Andrews

 

3. Functionality (Widgets & Plug-Ins)
When you look at other sites your might notice that they have lots of stuff in their side bars and in the footer of their pages or little things pop up asking you to sign up for things.. while your site is empty in all those places.  You can fill these spots with info on yourself, cues to follow certain accounts, all your social icons, lists of past blog posts.. etc. These tools are called widgets. If you look on my sidebar I have an About Me widget introducing myself, a field to sign up for my newsletter, and a list of past posts. On the bottom I have past posts and a widget to follow me on Pinterest. Your theme will likely come with a lot of handy widgets and it’s up to you to install them or not. For example, you might choose to install a widget that shows a feed of your Instagram account if you blog about food or maybe you have a calendar of up coming events if your a business blog.  You can add as many or as few as you want, but here are some tips for getting the most out of these..

 

-Functionality: this is the key word. You don’t want clutter, don’t add something just to have it there. Only add the items that will make your site easier to navigate. For example, having a widget displaying your latest Instagram photos on top of a widget showing your latest Pins will get crowded and they will take away from one another. Choose one and have a link to the other account elsewhere (like the set of icons I mention below).
-About Me: It’s not necessary to have the about me in the side bar (some people put it in their footer) but it’s nice to see who this blog is representing and it’s a pretty common practice, at least for personal blogs. Think of it as an introduction, have a nice picture taken and just say a few words. More than one or two sentences is too much. If you find yourself writing a whole paragraph, add a link that will take them to the About Me page on your site and they can read more there. You can always have an About page and skip this altogether if you want.
-Social Media Icons: If these are small and match the design of your site, you can stick these all over. And by all over I just mean in a few places. You want them to be accessible so people click them, follow you and use them to share your content. Most commonly these are at the very top (depending on your theme design), in the sidebar under your About Me and in the footer.
-Past Posts: This is a great thing to add to get people to navigate your site. Adding a list of past blog posts will get people to stay on your site longer as they click through to new-to-them content. Blogger has this built in, but WordPress doesn’t. Add it to your sidebar or footer.
Plug-ins are tools that you can download and activate to help your site run smoother on the back end. For example, a popular plug-in is Askimet (for WordPress, likely will come already installed) , to prevent spam from reaching your in-box. There are plug-ins for comments, to redirect links, to run an online store or sell things and about a million other things.

 

There are plenty of other widgets and tools out there to customize your site, this was just an overview to get you started. Spend some time searching and you might find somethings that can add a lot of value to your site.

 

A Prettier Web: 20 WordPress Widgets to Dress up your Sidebar 
The Blog Stylist: Widgets 

 

Designing a food blog homework:
1. Create a ‘mood board’ with the design elements you are looking to incorporate on your site.
2. Shop around for a theme and get it installed– this might take some time, there are a lot of options. If you are using a free theme, try a few on for size. If you’re purchasing one, really look around– you can’t get a refund once you’ve made a purchase!
3. Once you have your theme up, play around with the options. If you’ve designed a logo, get that installed in your header. Change all the colors to the once you chose for your color scheme. Play around with the widgets that came with your theme, link all your social media icons with the corresponding accounts.
4. Think about anything that might be missing from your site, navigation or function-wise and do a little Google-ing, you will probably find that someone has already thought of it and made a plug-in or widget to solve your issue.

 

Need some help? Have a question? Get in touch with me. 
Ready to start designing a food blog? Check out this Blogging board on Pinterest for inspiration and tips.

 

3 thoughts on “How to Start a Food Blog: Design and Branding (Part 2)

  1. These are some awesome tips. Even for my lifestlye blog I see some tips I can use. I REALLY need to work on my About me page it’s not what it should be as well as work on my logo some more. Thanks for sharing.

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