Blog DesignBlog Tips

Part 3: How to Be Successful with a Blog Designer

By Feb 15, 2011July 3rd, 201441 Comments

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Today is Part 3 of our blog design mini-series.  In Part 1, we gave you a list of things to think about and research before you move forward with a new design.  In Part 2, we covered some basic how not to design tips.  Today, we’re summarizing how to work with your designer to create the best possible outcome.

blog design

As the above image demonstrates, there are a number of elements that go into a great design.  Navigating this process can be overwhelming.  That’s where a good designer can step in, speak in soft, hushed tones, hold your hand, and make the process manageable.

We love us a good blog designer.  And knowing how to work with someone successfully is the key to creating a design that you will ultimately be happy with.

In our opinion, the secret to design success lies in ensuring you do the following: 1) get informed before you start, 2) be open and honest in your communication, 3) spell out the details in the contract, and 4) ask the right questions.

1) Get Informed Before You Start:

  • Most blog designers offer their design in parts.  In other words, you pay one price per item on their a la carte menu, such as a header, badge, background, and social media icons.  Other designers will work to create an entire look for you from top to bottom, even styling your comments, title graphics, and more.  Be sure to have a clear understanding of how your designer works before you sign your contract with them.
  • Do you like those pretty, professional looking images that you see in certain headers and want one for yourself?  Then be sure to understand whether a designer includes the cost of the stock images in their price, or if they charge extra for it.
  • The design should be compatible in all Mac and Windows browsers including Firefox, Safari, Chrome, and IE (6, 7 & 8).  Your site may look beautiful in Firefox, but turn into a broken jigsaw puzzle in Internet Explorer (IE).  Avoid this.
  • Do not expect your designer to fill in your static content for you. If you ask your designer to create an “about me” page or a “recipes” page or whatever suits your fancy, do not expect your designer to actually write the post for you.  They can stylize it and make it pretty, but you need to add the written material yourself.
  • Installation can be another “hidden cost.”  You may have the best design in the world, but unless someone adds the appropriate code, it will remain simply an image on your desktop.  Most designers charge an additional fee to help you out with installation, while other will include it in their price.  Be sure to ask!

2) Be Open and Honest with Your Communication:

As with any business relationship, the key to making it successful is communication.  Being upfront and honest with your vision, budget, and concerns can go a long way towards ensuring you end up with a design that you love.  Remember that your designer works on anywhere from one to multiple projects at once.  Your project’s schedule will have to fit in to theirs unless you offer to pay a rush fee.  It is also critical to provide as much direction as you can, forwarding links to blog designs that you like (and don’t like).  Finally, don’t be afraid to ask questions.  You are hiring a professional for a professional service.  By voicing your concerns early in the process you can avoid being charged extra to modify work that has already been completed.

blog design

Photo credit: Techpin.com

3) Spell Out the Details in the Contract

As the saying goes, the devil is in the details.  If the information is not in your contract, then it doesn’t exist, regardless of what you may have agreed to over the phone or in e-mail.  You need a document signed by both parties outlining everything you agree to for your design.  Make sure you know exactly what elements you will be receiving (for example, a header, button, and widget installation), understand the timeline, are ready for additional fees for stock art, and have clearly defined roles as to what you as the client will be responsible for and what the designer will be doing.

4) Ask the Right Questions

Never apologize for questions that you might have.  It’s is far and away better to get everything answered up front, than it is to remain silent and hope for the best.  Here are some questions to consider:

  • What is your designer’s background?  Do they have a degree in art/programming, or are they self taught?  How long have they been doing this?
  • Do they do their own illustration or will they be using Clipart?
  • Will you own any and all art created, or will there be limited licensing?
  • Will they be using a premium theme such as Thesis or Genesis, or are you implementing a regular WordPress theme?
  • Can they provide references to past clients?
  • What is their turnaround time?
  • Do they ask for a deposit?  What is their hourly rate?
  • Does the work have a warranty or guarantee?

So, there you have it!  This concludes our blog design series.  You now have the tools you need to go forth and be blog beautiful.

Before we officially send you on your way, tell us, are you ready for a new blog design?  Which blog designers have you (or are considering) working with?

{If you liked this post, then be sure to check out Part 1, Fundamental Questions to Answer Before You Get Started, and Part 2, How NOT to design your blog, of our blog design mini-series.}


  • Ted says:

    Howdy! I’m at work surfing around your blog from my new iphone 4! Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward to all your posts! Keep up the outstanding work!

  • Elizabeth says:

    I so needed this! My blog is sad and pitiful design wise. I just have not sat down and really thought about what I want for my “brand” or look. I am the kind of person designers hate to work with because I know more about what I don’t want instead of what I do want BUT I know it when I see it kinda thing. *sigh* maybe in the fall I can get myself together enough to start the process…..

  • Mariah says:

    Coming from a designer viewpoint, this was a great series girlies!

  • Liz says:

    I know I am WAY behind with this Design Series…but I wanted to wait until I had enough time to really devote to learning about this. Thanks so much for the great resources!

  • This is a great article!!!

  • Tammy says:

    Some great points made…thanks for such useful tools!

  • Alexandria says:

    I am so in need of a new blog design. All of mine was done by me via scrapblog actually with the exception of menu, sidebar, and button. But now I’m ready to really brand my blog and I think a professional design is what I need. I’m actually looking at Smashbox right now.

  • vivi b. says:

    These tips are very helpful!! thanks!

    Visit my other blog: http://www.theblogforbrides.com

  • the MRS. says:

    these are awesome tips!

  • Tracie says:

    I’m wanting to move up and get a ‘real’ and professions design on my blog.

    Lots of great tips in this post. Things I hadn’t thought about before. I feel more prepared now. Thanks!

  • Joy says:

    These are great tips! I can’t wait to get my new site up and running!

  • Jenna says:

    Great advice, thanks for sharing! I would love to have my blog designed eventually although it is still in its infancy now. It’s good to know these things before investing in a Designer.


  • Shana says:

    This series has been a huge help because I’m about to embark on a new design in the spring. Thanks for all the tips.

  • fojoy says:

    these are great tips, especially for someone so design-challenged as me!

  • liz says:

    I just got a sneak peek of my new header last night! For me, the woman who transferred me to WP also does design, so I knew how she worked ahead of time.

  • Karen says:

    I’m pretty sure I drove my blog designer crazy!

  • Debbie Varas says:

    I am totally clueless. I need this so much. I had no idea other’s had help creating their blog. Please send info on designer’s please!

  • I sure could have used this a few months ago. I really am happy with my design, though. But good tips to remember next year when I change it again!

  • Great information!

  • This was so informative. Thank you for the great advice.

  • There have been several and I would *love* Studio Bold do my design. It’s on my wish list – she seems spectacular!!

    I think it’s difficult when you are a small mom operation and you have to spend such a large chunk on a website. It’s *totally* worth it, mind you, and a justifiable expense, but I think a lot of moms have trouble with it. It’s a large cost to put out at once.

    GREAT series – extremely helpful!!

  • Courtney says:

    These are GREAT points for someone starting the process of hiring a designer. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  • Yuliya says:

    Does anyone have any great designer recommendations?

  • This is an interesting series! Honestly, I never considered hiring a designer. I tried Thesis and decided I wasn’t that bright. Then I bought iBlog Pro 4 (Page Lines) based on a recommendation from All In One SEO Pack. And I LOVE it and was able to make my blog basically what I wanted on my own. BUT I know that I am under-using the capabilities of the software just because I don’t know enough about HTML, blog design, coding, etc. to take full advantage! So … someday IF I can find a few cents to rub together and a designer who knows PageLines … I may hire one to help me go from pretty good to downright awesome!

  • Nicky says:

    A great commentary on the important aspects of choosing a design. Thanks for helping us out!

  • GingerWench says:

    Great series, I especially like this installment. I found myself nodding in agreement the whole way through! I hope you don’t mind, but I may have to reference this when I talk about my own design methods on my blog! 😉

  • Kelly says:

    Great advice!! Love it

  • Rebecka says:

    This information is helpful to the designer as well. The more you know about what you want, the easier our job is.
    I particularly like that you pointed out that it is not designer’s job to write the copy. So many clients don’t realize that they have work to do too when they order a blog design.
    Good article.

  • Bethany says:

    This is one of my favorite series ever!

    • Hey from a fellow Bethany (though I go by Beth). Took a quick peek at your blog and it’s REALLY cute! Very simple and appealing! Definitely the style that I am drawn to!

  • Devonay says:

    I had no clue. I hired a designer before I even started blogging. I love my design and my designer is a sweetheart. I’m still learning as I go. I found this article to be helpful. I do have those headers, but had no idea how to fill up the categories, so that is still something I need to get done. Now I’m just trying to find the time to do it!

  • Great tips!! I love this series as it’s giving me a lot to think about. I want my design to make sense and not turn people away!

  • Liz Barber says:

    Great Series. As a new blog designer it is great to see helpful and informative articles on this subject are out there. Thanks!

  • Thanks so much for the tips!

  • Lin says:

    This is a great article! I love my blog design…but, my designer was about ready to kill me (and vice versa) because I wasn’t educated well enough from the start. We just weren’t speaking the same language, so it took awhile for us to get there. We finally did, though, and now I get tons of compliments and I love that it’s unique and very “me!”

    My advice….know the basic lingo before you start: header, css, template basics, sidebars, wrappers, etc.