Teaching Blog 101: Wireframes, Templates, and Colors, Oh My!
Creating a teaching blog is a great way to showcase your students’ work, your love for all-things teaching, and your lesson ideas. The Teaching Blog 101 series is designed to help you tackle the world of blogging one step at a time. Last week we discussed choosing a blogging platform and this week deals with designing the blog from wireframe to graphics. Each step is important and can ultimately determine the success of your blog. Let’s get started.
Before you start thinking about colors and graphics to include in your blog design, think about what you actually want to include in terms of widgets and content. Do you want a Facebook widget? Or maybe you would like a blog roll on the side. When you look at other blogs, what appeals to you the most? Take the things that stand out to you and sketch them out on paper to create a wireframe for your blog. Here is an excellent collection of wireframe resources that can help you plan the layout of your blog.
Templates and Backgrounds
In the previous article, we talked about choosing a platform for your teaching blog. The platform that you selected will, most likely, have a collection of generic, free templates for you to choose from. While most are not specifically geared toward the education blogger, they can be customized to fit your needs – especially during your early months of blogging. Compare the available free templates to your wireframe and see which ones match up. If none do, or you want something more unique, you can also install other free templates.
Cutest Blog on the Block is one of the most popular free template designers. Their templates are easy to install on Blogger and they offer a wide variety of themes, backgrounds, and buttons for some of the most popular platforms. Keep in mind, however, that unless you purchase the design, their logo and link will remain highly visible on your blog. For some bloggers, that is not an issue, but others prefer to have more control of the companies being advertised on their blog.
If you do not find a template or background that you like there, a simple Google search for “free blog templates” will yield many results. More specific searches, such as “free education blogger templates” will give you ideas that are styled specifically with educators in mind. For a unique blog template or background, consider hiring a blog graphic designer to create one for you. The best suggestion is to look for information about blog template sources and graphic designers on the education blogs that appeal to you.
Just like you should not overwhelm your classroom with a dozen bright colors, so too should you limit the colors in your blog design. An abundance of colors and patterns is visually distracting and takes the reader’s eye away from the content and focuses it on the template. Pick a primary color and up to three accent colors to create a cohesive and fun look. If you want your blog to look more professional, opt for more neutral colors and fewer patterns. For a fun, whimsical look, choose colors that are bright and cheerful. The color of your blog will be the first thing people see, so make sure that it is appealing and easy to read.
Oh, those cute little graphics that you have seen around the web. How can you add them to your own blog? Many teachers use free clip art from around the web, but for those more detailed or unique images, graphic packages from blog designers are the way to go. A Google search for “free clip art for teachers” yields quite a few results. Keep in mind that many of the free clip art online is expressly for not-for-profit use only. That means that you cannot resell it in any education materials that you create.
For those unique graphics, a quick search on TeachersPayTeachers yields a wide selection of graphics that have been designed by teachers for teachers. Keep in mind that multiple copies of the same graphics are sold, so you may find the images you have selected on someone else’s blog or teacher created material. If you have to have a design all your own, it is worth the money to pay someone to create images exclusively for you with your blog’s title and color scheme.
Creating a visually appealing blog is just as important as creating a blog with excellent content. You want your readers to have an easy time reading your blog, as well as, a pleasant visual experience while there. Choose your template, background, color scheme, and graphics carefully. They are what will define your blog and set it apart visually from all others.
Next week we will talk about content and how it can make or break your blog. Join us!
Questions about setting up your blog? Feel free to leave a comment or question below or email us at TeachersLounge@ReallyGoodStuff.com. We are happy to help!