Site Design

So, as you know, last week, my dog ate the blog. #awkward. But unsurprising for a dog named Chewie. The theme I’m currently using is Foghorn? Foghat? I think I’m getting rock groups mixed up with WordPress themes. Never a good sign. Anyway, I’m working on a redesign over at, and I’d love input.

I’ve already gotten some good ideas from a couple of different people. One person pointed out that people visit Jester Queen for content anyway (which I considered a huge compliment) and I might consider going with a minimalist theme that didn’t rely on graphics. So, I sincerely want to know how you respond to the new (potential) design. Nothing is set in stone. Are the butterflies overwhelming? Do they fit? Is the header to your liking? What about the social media buttons? What about the placement of those social media buttons? ย What works for you about the theme? (That one is Weaver II, and whatever I do about design, I’ll probably be running with the Weaver II theme, as its versatility is right up my alley. The dog won’t be able to eat this theme so easily.) What doesn’t work about the theme? Do you have other ideas? (Ponying up money for design is not an idea I can take and run with just now – I’m limited to what I can do with my own two hands, though I can probably cough up the $30 for the Weaver II Pro theme.)

I haven’t got everything turned on. I don’t have anything going on in the footers yet over there, for instance, and I haven’t installed the plug-in that converts embedded post IDs to the posts themselves. If you could, please comment here (rather than over there) so I’ll have ideas in a single spot. But do let me know what you think!

About jesterqueen:
Jessie Powell is the Jester Queen. She likes to tell you about her dog, her kids, her fiction, and her blog, but not necessarily in that order.


Site Design — 24 Comments

  1. Heya, some feedback as you requested. These are some general rules that we've generated ourselves as we've had too much contact with (especially small) businesses who flout this all the time and from our own work:

    1. Only use one font. Do not use Comic Sans. (If you like, use a highlight font (probably a cursive) and then a standard text font, this is fine).
    2. Keep your colours simple. Just because there's a couple of thousand available to you does not mean to say you need to use them all! Choose colours which theme with your style, business or personal. Primary colours seem to have faded from fashion especially when you use more than two or three at once.
    3. Keep things simple and clean. If your client/customer/reader can't read it then what's the point? If they have to spent an hour searching on the page for the information, will they bother? This is especially important for links and navigation, you may know what your shorthand is but will they?
    4. If you're using graphics, make sure that they're high quality. Bad quality images put people off. Especially if you have something to sell. Make sure that if you're using them online that they have been appropriately resized, images taking 300 years to download put people off. If you're using stock or clipart then make sure you have copyright permission.
    5. Check for typos and readability in your copy. It does some people's swede. And just isn't professional. And even a personal blog needs standards.

    I like the cream especially, I have Scotopic Sensitivity so the prevailing fashion for black and white blogs and internet pages isn't much appreciated! It also reminds me of old-fashioned paper, appropriately! Which font are you using for your header? I like that too, unusual and has that sort of vintage, Medieval feel. Have fun!

    (That wasn't meant to be a lecture btw! I just spouted, sorry. Maybe I should go away and write a blog post on it instead!)

    My recent post Famous Five

    • Not a lecture at all! It’s really helpful stuff. I knew some of it, but not all by any means (like that the primary colors weren’t popular anymore) The header font is something called Coal Train. I couldn’t resist it for the name alone. Only illegibility would have kept me from using it!! Thanks for the input.

      • That's a cool font name, I don't know that one at all. The only people I'm seeing with primary colours at the moment are tradesmen in their vans and when they sport two or three or four or however other many primary colours you can imagine it looks like they just discovered 3-colour printing, 20 years after everyone else. Supermarkets are probably the exception when it comes to big brands. New brands and websites are favouring either that black and white stuff (especially when it comes to photography) or earth tones, muted but not necessarily pastels. Have a look around, see what you like and what works for you! ๐Ÿ™‚
        My recent post Famous Five

    • I like the the uncluttered approach. Much better. The comments on this blog are hard to understand; so I hope they'll be easier on the one you finally choose.

      • Is it the close-to-getherness, the font size, or the lack of highlights that makes them hard? I think that’s something I can adjust within intense debates. (the name of the comment system)

        • I get confused because almost every other blog has a simple way to comment. You say you want to comment on the other blogs, and a little box comes up and you type in your comment. When I get to yours I have to hit reply and then type in the comment. What confuses me is, Am I replying to the initial commentator or not? Now to say theinevitable, I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but simple is the easiest for me. Now I can understand a reply to another post would be nice, inadditionto the ordinary comment box. It could be the lack of highlights.. You should see me order a pizza online… Takes me 10 Whatever you decide upon I'm sure i'll get the hang of it.From: notifications@intensedebatemail.comTo: booguloo@live.comSubject: jesterqueen replied to your comment on Site Design

          • Ah! Scroll all the way to the way bottom and you should see the regular form. You shouldn't have to click 'reply' unless you're responding to an individual. (Though the stupid system may respond oddly depending on browsers. There's an unreasonable prejudice against Internet Explorer these days.)

  2. I like the new format — I think it's easy to read, and I like that the social media buttons don't appear above the text on each post — that feels easier to process, somehow. I like the butterflies but I agree that a minimalist format could work well too. If you can, I'd consider just putting the picture of your book once not as a link and then the two links underneath just for neatness' sake. I might put the butterflies at the bottom instead of the top to balance the header but I don't know if that placement would be as effective from a traffic standpoint.
    My recent post Trifecta: The Tide Turns

    • That's a cool idea – it would solve the problem of having to standardize the amazon and b&n pictures. I'm going to try that on my next round!

  3. Whoever told you to stick to something very simple in order to highlight your content must have been one smart cookie!

    1. Per post – the pin it, like it, share it – I'd prefer seeing it at the bottom. Put the emphasis on the post rather than begging readers to pimp you out. Plus it throws us off, where does the content start? And then… not sure how to handle all the stuff before and after each post. It needs trimming. The share buttons don't need the titles, just the icons it'll be a big help.
    2. I can send you the html for holding all social media icons on one line, it's really cool – that way rather than numerous widgets and junk on the sidebar everything is neat and tidy all together
    3. I'd recommend removing the filter and archives widgets. Unless your stats shows people read and pull old posts a lot through that, for now it's just extra stuff – visual noise distracting from the content
    4. The 2 book links. They need a bit of work. Put your book cover without the random white box – just the cover and below it AMAZON and BARNES & NOBLE direct link to purchase (oh btw, I've dipped into it and I'm already hooked right off the first line)
    5. Sorry buttercup, but the butterfly has to go (in my opinion).
    6. Remove the meet the jester widget. You already have an about page.
    7. I agree with Idiosyncracies – I'm liking the background color. I HATE black with white font, they kill my eyes (stupid astigmatism)
    8. No title is needed for Sits and Studio 30+. Simply at the bottom of your sidebar add a number of buttons – it's best if you modify them so they are pretty much all the same width.

    You don't need to hire a designer. You can do all this yourself. Remember – keep it simple! Stick to a limited number of fonts (go Idiosyncracies) and alignment. I personally prefer a full out left align, some prefer center, and sometimes a balance of left and right is sweet too. This is a big improvement on what you had! I don't want the number of my points to sound harsh or crass. It's getting a lot better! Wish we were neighbors, we could sit by the computer together and try stuff out. Get drunk. Laugh at Chewie… ๐Ÿ˜€

    • The feedback is totally awesome – especially since you’re the smart cookie who suggested the content focus! The butterfly feedback is pretty consistently “Cute, but not you” or “no. just no”, and that’s what I need to know. I don’t want people to come in and thing “WTF?” “Girl?” I am a writer, not a designer. If I had the bucks, I would hire this out. But also, I LOVE computer coding, and I love the excuse to learn more of it. SO this is totally fun, but I know better than to just trust my own instincts.

      I’d LOVE the html code for putting all the social media icons together. I’m paranoid about their copyright rules (especially the facebookers), which is why I was using my own font, but maybe I need to chill about that.

      • As to the social media sharing buttons, if I understand what you mean correctly, I believe that there is no copyright infringement if you use them as they're intended, to link to that site. After all you're doing them a favour by driving traffic to their site. ๐Ÿ™‚
        My recent post Famous Five

  4. Marie and Idiosycratic Eye have covered most of my notes. I have no design training whatsoever, but I like simple, clean sites with light backgrounds and consistent font usage.
    My recent post Playing Queens and Indians

    • Awesome! This is all really helping me shape things up before I make it live early next week at the latest!!

  5. Whenever you figure it all out, expect an email from me asking for tips ๐Ÿ™‚ I'm planning on an overhaul over at my place. New name, new look…still trying to decide if I stick with or move over to…cost will be a huge factor in that decision.

    On the look: I like the beige as well. And simplicity is key. As mentioned by others, don't repeat info unnecessarily (ie the book links). Buttons form websites don't need titles. If you look on mine I have one title and then have all the buttons clustered below.

    Not liking the social media buttons. The letters get lost in the butterfly images. If you want to stick with butterflies as an overriding theme then try to incorporate the more recognizable social media symbols for those items in the image.

    I like the header and the font for your blog name. And while I do like the butterfly, I'm not sure if it's the right image for you…jester queen just doesn't scream butterflies ๐Ÿ™‚ You could maybe talk to SAM about designing a header…I know she has some graphic knowledge, she might be able to craft something for you that won't break the bank.

    good luck!
    My recent post Saturday Centus: Upon Waking

    • The letters do kind of vanish in the florals, don't they. Poof. Off they go. I've found a free set thanks to Marie Nichole above that will be perfect with this new theme.

  6. I'm with everyone above. Clean simple, content focused. As we speak, I'm thinking about these issues myself….

    • I was hoping to dodge this until next fall, when the kids start back to school, as they'll both be at the same school. But it's working out well to discuss it now.

  7. I'm a fan of simple. Not a lot of graphics and lighter colors, which help when reading. That being said, long posts need some sort of images or graphics to it breaks up blocks and blocks of words. That can all be done with simple though. I agree with the others — your content should be the main selling point, with the other things being something that accent what you do here, not overshadow.
    My recent post The Clinton Canoe Regatta turns 50 and shines again

  8. Good luck with the redesign. I just changed my theme too, wanting to go toward a simpler, less 'busy' look. I look forward to seeing the final design.

    The only other input I have is that the tag line is a little hard to read against the green image. I think both the title and tag get lost in the header photo.
    My recent post Greetings from Florida

  9. I like the clean way your stories look over there with the slightly wider text space. I do find the butterflies distracting (if they're buttons, I can't tell what they're for.) I think your header as it is, is a little busy and I agree with the previous commenter that the tag line is hard to take in against that image.

    I like sites where the extra stuff and images have a purpose and don't get in the way of me focusing on the reading or the photos in a specific post. I like extras to blend well in terms of color and placement, and I believe that stuff about less being more.

    One thing I think we writers have to remember is that in this busy world a lot of folks might decide whether or not to stick around by deciding if they like the kind of stories your header picture says you tell. I think your stories have a basic sophistication that says you care about the writing, and they mostly have a lot of humanity in them — simple folk with complicated histories and feelings. I think your site would look great with an unobtrusive header image that conveys that, a kind of shorthand, so to speak. And the typeface could be darker, a little smaller and smoother.

    The pictures within specific posts could be bright and fanciful according to the subject, but when it's about the writing, and the writing isn't necessarily sunny, then your header and graphics won't fight it visually.

    It's good to have your book info up top, but could the things in your sidebar be smaller with more space around each of them, more like over here?

    (I guess you can tell that I like it when people ask for my opinion. ๐Ÿ™‚ ) I hope I was at least a little helpful, and not too aggravating.

    • Extremely helpful, and not at all annoying. I need to know this stuff, and I don’t have a huge ego investment in doing it ‘my way’. I’d rather do it right. Unlike with my writing, where I have a strong sense of right and can use feedback to ‘tweak’, I’m a design-baby. I need input to get my initial direction, and honestly, the honest feedback is amazingly helpful.