Thursday, November 16, 2006

Blog redesign inspiration

I've got this major redesign looming over me and apparently the silly writing project I've been buried in has left me utterly braindead when it comes to graphics. To complicate things, I've got multiple sites that need a coordinated look/feel and I need to come up with a logo. (and I have no clue what I am making for thanksgiving dinner, beyond a 21 lb turkey, but that's another problem entirely!)

My problem is not that I can't do the design work, it's that I can't decide what I want. (any mindreaders out there to help?) I have some general thoughts but I think what I need now is to go look at a bunch of sites for inspiration. Which is where you all come in.

What are your favorite blogs as far as design goes?
Are there specific aspects of blog designs that you either love or hate?
Have you run across articles that helped you with site design?

Anything else you think might help would be great!

I have a few Typepad specific questions, but I'll save those for another post.

This Post was written by kitchenMage from kitchenMage


Shauna said...

Hey, my dear. I'm in the middle of contemplating a redesign as well, and a manuscript due soon (are we living the same life?). You know what I did? I hired a designer. She's great. I showed her about ten of my favorite sites, for tiny intricate reasons, and she got it.

She's in Seattle, and she's great. If you want her name, let me know.

Sites I showed her:

Delicious Days
Mighty Girl
Smitten Kitchen
David Lebovitz
Pink of Perfection
A Bird in the Hand

Hope this helps.

Jocelyn:McAuliflower said...

not meaning to complicate the process... or your sanity...

-but don't look to other food blogs for site design inspiration. It will end up looking borrowed/uninspired, cliche, and a bit incestual. Not meaning to sound harsh... I hope you see where I'm coming from?

- take your own inspiration and surround yourself with it. Devour it. Keep it pure.

- a site that's helped me is 37signals and the article Keeping Your Inspiration Fresh":
'If you believe Oscar Wilde, “Talent borrows, genius steals.” The problem is that when everyone is turning to the same places for influence, things get stale. We wind up drowning in a sea of me-toos.

When everyone else is looking the same way for inspiration, look somewhere else. The result is a lot more likely to be something singular and fresh.'

-look at patterns in some of your favorite food photos... use them as palette references too.

- not advocating that print design is synonymous with web design... however, magazine layouts can give some nice inspiration for template and layout designs for websites.

- when in doubt: keep it simple. You can always complicate things later.

or did you want something easy like good css reference sites?

Amy Sherman said...

In general I agree with not spending too much time looking at other sites. A little looking is ok, but the last thing you want is a site that is very similar to other sites. Strive for originality!

What I found helpful was to write down what it was that I wanted. For example, I wanted a sense of movement and something less "chefy" more "dining" than my previous design. I wanted it to be modern looking and inviting, but not edgy. Clarifying all this upfront helped me and my designer. If you or anyone else wants contact info for Cat (the designer) just holler. In addition to my blog, she recently redesigned the Grub Report blog too.

MizD said...

I'm with Mcauliflower in going outside the food blog world for inspiration, or better yet, going outside the blogging world altogether. When I'm designing for other people (or for myself) I pour through illustration & art books, graphic design annuals, and other fun coffee table tomes like The Look of the 20th Century.

Of course I still then need to figure out what works online, and for at least some of that, I go to CSS Zen Garden for CSS inspiration.

Another thing I'd add is I find it unhelpful to look at, say, a blogger layout when I'm designing for Wordpress, so if you do need to check out other blogs for inspiration, maybe track down a nice variety of (non-food) Typepad blogs?

Kevin said...

My favorite blog design, in terms of ambiance, is Belly Timber. It seems, more than any other, to be a macro-reflection of it's authors.

neil said...

I've just trashed my old site and put up something entirely new in its place. If you want to check it out go to
I tried to explain the thought process behind it and you will find a linking post to the creative side of it. The two people responsible for it are listed in the credits. Suppose I better own up and say I borrowed Mrs D'd dimensions for my new header.

Anonymous said...

Here's a good list of CSS site lists to inspire from outside the food blog world:

A pocket guide to inspirational sites -

kitchenmage said...

Thanks everyone. I'm starting to close in on pieces of this, and I'm going to spend a while browsing sites. (because while Shauna has to write tonight, I don't!)

Kevin, I've been trying to think of what I might be able to trade Miz D for some graphics work. I'm just not sure what it might be.

Sally said...

Why don't you ask the people at Have a competition and choose a design from there.

MizD said...

Kitchenmage, give me a holler if you want to talk barter. :-)

BTW, perfect timing ::cough:: -- my host's database server is down this morning, so anyone stopping by Belly Timber (thank you, Kevin!!) will get a Wordpress error message. Fingers crossed it's fixed soon.

Oh, also, another fun site for inspiration:

Print & Pattern

& I highly recommend checking out some of the links over on Nicky & Oliver's Delicious:Days. Not only is their site gorgeous, they have some fine design links on their sidebar.

Sam said...

I think you need to find your own inspiration. Sometimes it just appears when you most need it.

I wanted to redesign for a long time and eventually my brainwave was to use my freaky tomato picture. I then used that picture to choose my palette which includes torquoise orange - some of my favourite colours anyway.

WHen I did mine I also had a strong idea about my blog roll functionality and I played around with visualising the functionality I had in mind. In fact it was that need for functionality that drove the whole project initially.

I tried not to copy from thinking about blogs I liked though collectively they made me realise that I wanted to switch from a dark background which I had previosuly to a pale one which I think shows pictures off better.

Celine said...

hey KM,
I recently went through having to redesign my blog too (and am still in the process of tweaking it) so I can understand how you feel - the choices are endless! one minute you think you know what you want, the next another idea conems up and you can't decide. I say go with your first instinct - you're bound to personalize it as you go along and add aspects that you would anyway. Blogs started off as a form of relaxation for bloggers. Don't stress yourself too much over how it might look. As long as it functions properly, I say go for it.

Andrew said...

perhaps you should look on it from the point of a viewer. If a person goes to your site what do they want to see, where would they click, what makes it easy for them to read (lots of white space? strong colour for the link etc) and then think what you want...

I would just like to say that after I redesigned spittoon and spittoonextra a few weeks ago (although I really liked the old design) my google adsense earnings trebbled... another consideration therefore if money making is important is the positioning of adverts (and setting up channels to monitor which ones work).

I should also say that trebble of nothing still aint much!