Friday, February 7, 2014

Blog Makeover 2014 | What I Did and Why

It's been about 1.5 years since my last blog makeover. And yes, I had one done last weekend in time for Chinese New Year... did you realise??!! :P

This is the old blog layout. As you can see, my hairstyle has changed so I obviously don't look the same as my photo in the previous header, and of course Lil Pumpkin has grown up 1.5 years since those photos were taken. Still adorable as ever, but slightly less baby-face. The boy, well... lucky him that he never seems to age!! #fml

These new family photos were taken last year and I'm still waiting for the full set to write a post on them. But anyway, these photos represent my dreams and aspirations. I was very inspired by my trip to Northern Territory, Australia and wanted to capture the essence of our family in a carefree and natural setting. They also reflect who I am and what I want for my life & blog - freedom. Freedom to be who I want to be, love who I want to love, write what I want to write.

This is my family and I - stripped down and natural {not naked.. family-friendly content here, ok? haha}. No complications; what you see is what you get on the blog.

I've written down my thoughts on the blog makeover, just to walk you through the changes and help with navigation. Thankfully, I defined most of what I wanted to see in my blog in the previous makeover, so didn't really need to do any major revamps this time round.

Everything was done by me, and photos edited with my noob skills on Photoshop. I'm still on Blogger, and will probably not move in the near future because I like how easy it is to make blog template changes without anyone's help or prior CSS skills. What's CSS? Not really sure {see, told ya I'm a noob!} but it stands for "cascading style sheets" and you need that knowledge to make pretty design changes on Wordpress blogs I heard. Of course, you could hire someone for a blog makeover, but I think you get a higher sense of satisfaction if you did it yourself. I sure did *beams*

Header
I updated it with a more recent family photo that shows our love for one another because Sakura Haruka is essentially a family blog, and I want that to be the first thing readers see. This is my Facebook page cover photo  as well to streamline across my social media accounts.

Pages
I removed the background and border colours to fit in my white background. From the last makeover, I also added in new pages about all my regular family-related feature series {Family Features}, the things I want to do before my 30th birthday {30 Before 30} and frequently-asked questions {FAQ}.

The biggest update done to any page text was to the information on advertising opportunities on my blog {PR/Advertising}. Some people think blogging is just simply writing and posting. Well yeah it can be but if you are a PR-friendly blogger, actually a lot goes on behind the scenes and writing a post takes up maybe.. 20-25%? Not inclusive or any photo-taking and editing. I know a large part of my time spent on blog-related activities is on blog emails and I really want to cut down on mass emails, or requests from brands that don't do their homework want to work with me without even knowing who I am or what I represent. Less time on emails mean more time I can spent on doing the part I like most about blogging - creating content and connecting with my readers and blogging community. Anyway, this page is more concise, and the different brands I've worked are categorised with for easy viewing. I listed them so brands have an expectation of what I write for reviews / sponsored advertorials, and also so I won't forget what I've done through the years. Forgive my poor memory.

Sidebar
The 2 new photographs right at the top giving a short explanation of who I am - Ai Sakura, Mama to Lil Pumpkin and wife to Dr Dru, have been updated. I also have links to current ongoing reader giveaways and promotions. These are not sidebar ads. I don't want my readers to miss out, and posted them there as reminders... I'm also thinking of putting them in one page instead though to declutter. What do you think?

A new feature is also the display of YouTube clips from my YouTube channel for readers to watch without leaving the page. Recently, I've been updating my YouTube channel more frequently and want to take more videos of Lil Pumpkin this year. Follow me there {@AiSakuraHaruka} if you haven't yet? :)

Background
Instead of the pink bubbly background at the side, I've changed it to all-white. It instantly makes the blog cleaner, sleeker and goes with the distractions-free feel I want. Agree?

New year, new beginnings xox

It still needs a bit more tweaking but let me know your thoughts of this new blog design! :) Should I take away or add some other stuff?

Photobucket

16 comments:

Adeline said...

I love your blog's makeover! Not that I didn't like the old one, of course, but this is very pretty too. Wish I had your skills in doing all these IT-related things. I still haven't figured out how to edit the header photo on my blog! :P

haifang said...

congrats to your new look ! very refreshing :)

www.boyeatsworld.com.au said...

I really love the new look. I'm inspired to start tweaking my own blog :-)

Ai Sakura said...

Adeline: thanks! Just having some fun and glad it turned out ok without messing up the codes or whatever :P

haifang: thank you!

Boyeatsworld: go for it :)

Renae of Simple Sequins said...

Oh, Sakura, thank you for the follow on GFC. That is great of you! I sure enjoy you on IG, for dang sure. lol (hug)

Susan said...

Love these new photos of you and your family on the blog. But more importantly, I love that you're guided by the word close to your heart, freedom. Still remember the conversation we had at POLW, and hope this blogging journey brings you the joy and freedom of expression to be who you want to be.

Serenely said...

I like it! The white background looks really nice. Much cleaner and easier on the eyes. It's nice of you to talk through the changes you made. I'm learning something about the thought process you go through for designing your blog.

L Lee said...

Well done for doing everything yourself!

I also self-design my blog and I guess it's also partly cos I'm not too fussed about how it looks. :)

oomph. said...

i like the new layout. i'm all for clean layouts, so much easier on the eyes.

sorry you couldn't enter the dean & grace giveaway. they will starting international service within the year, tho!

Ai Sakura said...

Renae: no worries! I thought I had already but couldn't find your name haha..

Susan: yes, I hope so too :)

Serenely: glad you found it useful

L Lee: haha yeah ^5!

oomph: I know! haha.. thanks I'll looking out for that :P

Masshole Mommy said...

I really like your new look! Getting a bloggy makeover is a good feeling. My last makeover was almost 3 and a half years ago and I have been thinking about making some updates lately, too!

Madeline Heng said...

Nice look! I love the new updated buttons. I too updated my welcome button as we have a new addition haha =)

Sally@Toddlers on Tour said...

It is looking good, love the new family pictures.

I agree with the satisfaction you feel from updating it all yourself - you really get abuzz when you sit back and look at it.

Grace said...

Looks great, Ai! And yes, with Lil Pumpkin growing and all the other changes, it's only apt that changes to your blog are made. I'm thinking about doing some of my own blog changes too!

Kylie Purtell said...

Love it, looks great. And I totally get what you mean about getting the satisfaction of doing it all yourself. Everything I've done on my blog I've done myself, with a little html help from Google.

alissa apel said...

I love it, but I liked the older look as well.