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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Reveal: New Design Using Blogger's "Picture Window"

So, you're accustomed to seeing me present big reveals of rooms and projects, but today's reveal is a new design for Renov8or.

When I moved Renov8or to Blogger, I used an off-the-shelf template called "Picture Window". It had the advantage of being very easy for a novice to jump in with. All I wanted to do was write and share photos, so it was fine for me. Over time, however, I've been feeling its limitations. Slowly but surely, I've been learning how to hack the Picture Window template.

The first thing you'll notice is my new header design. I read a lot of blogs over the holidays and came to the realization that my favorites all have a personal touch, for example, Making It Lovely, Old Town Home, Manhattan Nest, Dans Le Lakehouse, Deuce Cities Hen House, The Inspired Room, Projectophile - I feel like I know these bloggers. I can't name all the ones I follow, but most are on the sidebar to the right with links to their blogs, should you care to explore and I hope you do.

How do they put so much of themselves into their blogs? When I start a new project, I'm generally so engrossed in the work that it's difficult to remember even to stop and take "step by step" shots for the blog, much less inject myself into the mix. But I'm going to try to improve that. Starting with injecting myself, literally, onto the top of this page, haha. I'll also try to keep the About Me page up to date.

The next thing you'll notice is the navigation bar at the top with category links and dropdown. This offers a quick way for you to see all the posts on a certain topic, such as "Painting" or to see the projects grouped by each home we've lived in.

The sidebar at the right is new, too. Want to be alerted every time Renov8or has a new post? Just put your email in the black-and-white Bloglovin' box at the very top right, and follow me!

Also in the sidebar, explore the Most Popular articles. Way further to the right you will also find a handy Back-to-Top button. It will follow you as you scroll down the page until you get to the end. Want to scroll back up quickly? Click the button.

Note: The nav bar and side bar do not appear on mobile screens. Blogger is mobile responsive and the mobile theme is simply a scroll of posts.

I'm no web designer, but I found it pretty easy and a lot of fun messing around with the Blogger template to arrive at this design - kind of like designing a room. There were tricky moments, certainly, and I wouldn't have gotten through it without tips from other bloggers. I found them through the Google machine, and I can't thank them enough.

1. Thanks to BloominRouge. Your Five Tips to Clean Up Your Blogger Template helped me:
  • Store my photos on a Blogger draft page - instead of the time-consuming process of uploading images to another site such as Imjur or Picasa to get a link
  • Create a favicon
  • Hide the ugly Blogger nav
  • Customize my jump links
  • Add a search box
  • Restyle the fonts through CSS
  • Use the Bloglovin Alerts block
  • Add and style the Most Popular block in the sidebar

I was especially grateful to read How to Enlarge Your Most Popular Thumbnails. Though the focus was making the photos larger, you included enough basic detail that I was able to understand even the remedial "how to install the gadget" part. 

I have not even begun to read all of your great looking photo tutorials, BloominRouge. But I plan to. Look for my photos to improve a lot this year.

2. Thanks to Lovely Bookshelf for your tutorial How to Create Drop-Down Menus in Blogger. You write technical directions so clearly even a novice like myself can make changes to code without quaking in my boots. (Mantra: Always download a back up, always download a back up.)

3. And finally, thanks to Teacher Blogging Basics for your Back to Top Button tutorial. I used your script but inserted my own button design. I'm sure Renov8or readers will be thrilled at not having to scroll all the way back up any more on longer posts, I know I am.

So, I'm still not finished with a few things - such as how to round my edges in my drop down and how to make my Back to Top button transparent, and myriad other tiny details. If anyone reading this would care to share tips, please comment on the blog. I will respond.

Renov8or is approaching our 10 year anniversary - it's about time she had a makeover!