I have been pondering about changing the look of the blog for a while but hadn't found a design or layout I liked. I love the magazine style templates but to get one to work in Blogger is almost impossible and I didn't really fancy changing to the much-recommended Wordpress hosted blogs. Blogger/Blogspot is my comfort zone and I'm constantly learning how to mess around with HTML to create a blog that I'm comfortable with but that is also easy for my readers to navigate through.
A few people (mentioned below) had a look at a some template designs with me. We worked our way through the pros and cons of designs such as Notebook, Vector Art (the front runner for a long time), Desktop Chaos, finally arriving at After Shot, which is the one in place now. I still had issues though. I wanted to be able to put information in the footer of each page and now that facility had disappeared. So I went on a little bit of a mission round the World Wide Web and found a few hints and tips and some HTML coding that would allow me to insert some columns in the footer (blog post to follow soon with instructions).
What next? Oh yes. I had an offer of a free domain name (a web address specifically created for me) and I had a bit of a panic attack. NOTHING in this life is free - or so I thought. I was convinced it was definitely free and all I had to do was choose a name. More panicking! How on EARTH do you choose a name for your own web address when your very easy-to-remember blog title is going to be registered already? The little focus group that had formed came up with the following:
- typecast2000.com (vetoed because I was trying to steer away from the using "2000" anywhere)
- typecast-nickie.com (this was ok but I didn't really want my real name in my web address)
- iamtypecast.com (met with massive approval, generating additional votes from tweeters on the sidelines)
In the meantime, I sent out messages to the world to pop on over and view the new layout of the blog. I was also musing about the way that the image of the yellow and orange flower has become my "branding" - it is something that people immediately associate with me now around Twitter, Facebook and Blogland. A comment pinged in asking if I was going to incorporate the flower into the header. I had been trying to work out how to do this and it was one of my "ish" feelings steering me away from total happiness. I had neither the knowledge nor the digital image skills to adapt the header. It took me two hours to stick my head on Catherine Zeta Jones' body the other day. Again, the adaptation was offered for free so I grabbed the offer with both hands and sent the banner/avatar images over. The three images that were sent back were:
So, in true awards ceremony fashion here are the people that have made this possible:
- @softthistle who blogs at SoftThistle. Marylin provided the free domain. She helped me because she says I am her blog crush. Don't ask! I am, however, slightly worried as she now owns me and my blog and my whole world... I only have to piss her off slightly and she could press the button that would bring my blog to a grinding halt.
- @bushbb1 who blogs at BushBB. Zoe provided good advice and opinions and was on hand with further design suggestions and kept me in check when I started to panic a little.
- @kateab who blogs at The Five F's. Kate was the creative brain power behind the ingenious domain name and cheered us all on from the sidelines.
- @cosmicgirlie blogs as the Mocha Beanie Mummy. Jay jumped in at the eleventh hour (literally) and offered her photoshop skills to provide the brilliant positioning of my avatar.
I know I've waffled on and on about this but I'm amazed by the power of HTML coding and the kindness of people I've never met in real life. I have recently had a personal battle with exam nerves and I have a four month study break where I can make my writing work for me. A fresh start. And this new look blog is all part of that.