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13 Steps to a Blog Redesign

By Char

Thursday Thirteen

As most of my regular readers know, I gave this blog a drastic redesign a few weeks ago. While many people liked the old design, I was beginning to feel a little boxed in. One Friday morning I just couldn’t take it anymore and decided to redesign the site live. No test site for me. No, I felt is was better to do it live and let my readers get involved. They did and I am very grateful!

Here is the before:

Old Essential Keystrokes

Here is a rough list of the steps I went through in transforming the site:

1. Select and download new theme. I had a few restarts on theme selection. There were a few themes that I thought I loved by when all was said and done, they just didn’t work with my concept of bringing the design elements from my portfolio site to my blog. Finally I settled on the dKret theme.

2. Open new theme image files and modify. I open all the theme’s image files in Fireworks and change or replace them as needed. Once I launch the new theme, I come back in and make more changes.

3. Upgrade WP installation. While I was in there I figured I might as well grab the latest version of WordPress. My hosting company, Host Gator, has Fantastico so installation and upgrade of many features is done with one click and extremely easy!

4. Reinstall/reactivate all plugins – one at a time. I activated the essentials – Akismet, Do Follow, Popularity Contest and Get Recent Comments. There are more I’d like to add now that the site is up and running, but I haven’t had the time.

5. Install the new theme. I FTP’d the theme to the wp-content/themes directory then went into the Admin panel and activated it.

6. Do initial round of testing, tweaking, and panicking. Once the new theme was live it made it easier to see what elements I liked, didn’t like and what didn’t work.

7. Put the faces back up. I added my MyBlogLog back in. I really missed seeing everyone’s faces so I gave them a top billing! They may not stay there, but for now I like it.

8. Add About page. I gave this site a shiny new About page so new visitors can get a sense of who is behind the words.

9. Add Getting Started. I wanted a page to keep my posts on the basics of web design, blogging and new media easy to find.

10. Add Resources. Resources is still a work in progress, but it is supposed to be a page that lets you know what products and services I use or highly recommend.

11. Monetize the site. I put the Google Adsense ads in on the single pages only. I have found this to work better for this site. Ads on the single pages tend to be more relevant and my regular readers are not bombarded with them everytime they visit the home page. I also added my affiliate links back in.

12. Review my check list of features. Things I wanted to include are recent posts, recent comments (needs to be added still), most popular posts, featured sites, other blogs I write, categories, links to my favorites, search (needs to be added still), copyright info, badges in sidebar, and subscribe to feed.

13. Continue to listen to reader feedback and tweak as needed. I want you to really enjoy visiting me! Tell me what you like, what you don’t, and how I can make your experience at this site better.

I have a running list of things I still need to do to the site, but I can’t expect to do them all at once. This is a living, breathing entity and as far as I am concerned it is never done.

There are endless ways to go through this process and everyone is different. What would you do differently? What am I missing still? Was this list helpful?

Tags: , , ,

Categories : Blogging, Web Design



Hey, I like this list. If it was mine, I would have had many more panicky points, though. But that’s only me, because I still haven’t bothered to really get aquainted with WordPress too well and am constantly mucking things up.
You make it all seem pretty easy. :o )
I also like the new design, by the way. (Didn’t know the old one, though…)


I’m just too blamed lazy to change anything I don’t have to.


Thanks for posting that..That will e helpful to a lot of people!

Mines up! We are having a scavenger hunt!


Great list! I’m just not patient enough to go through all the steps a redesign would take LOL


Very nice Thursday Thirteen, Char!

I think you’re doing a great job. Do you have any plans for the footer? I think more contrast would help the legibility.


Samulli, Donna, Amy and Kristin – thanks for stopping in today! I hope you’ll be back. And Happy TT.

David – I do have plans for the footer. I want to make it another useful area and I am tossing around ideas as to what should go there. Right now I am thinking of featuring a book that I am reading or using a lot, my latest project, and another invitation to subscribe to me feed. What do you think?


Nice, helpful list. I’m sure I’ll be back when I’m ready to change up my site.


Love the polka dots!

Thanks for all the great information too.


That helps me – I still have a few items that I don’t understand but I need to go try some of the plug-in stuff to get my brain wrapped around it! Thanks.


I love this list, although I am stickint to the free blog for the moment… Someday (well if they get it so I just get to pick it without all the other stuff!)

I love the theme, it is classy!


Hey, great list, Char. I’m in the midst of redesigning some of my other blogs – this list helps a ton!


It was interesting to watch the process unfold and to note your readers’ suggestions too. All in all it was a great learning opportunity. Thanks Char and congratulations on a great outcome.


Wow, this entry comes at the right time for me and it is really useful. I plan to redesign my blog and I was not aware of the fact that I will need to reinstall the plugins for example!

The site looks great now. It was great before too, but… now it has personality. I love it!


Great list Char. I ended up using the same theme as you and doing my take on it. It’s a pretty nice theme and I love the widgets.

You did a great job with your redesign and thanks for sharing how you did it.


Love the new look! It’s a big project to redesign a blog – kudos to you.


Nice one Char! I have to confess, sometimes I skip the testing site, and just change things while it’s ‘live’. It’s probably considered unprofessional, but I usually do it when it’s ‘off-peak’ visitors time.

It’s nice by the way. I like the contrast of colours and shades.


Char, did you have any noticeable dip in traffic after your changeover? I sure did notice that a few months ago when I just took a couple of days to experiment with some different themes. I assumed that was because of things that didn’t work in those new themes, causing 401 errors to display if someone happened to be visiting when I was testing.

This IS a nice list. I plan to link to it from my post on website redesign as it has a lot of relevance, now that more people are using WordPress as their actual website and not just as their blog(s).


[...] Keystrokes. Char recently overhauled the look of her main blog (she uses WordPress) and her step-by-step list will help you if you are thinking about doing the same thing. (edit to original article by ktcosmos [...]


Awesome steps Char! Thanks for sharing them!


You are most welcome Phil!


I’ve just gone through this process twice in the last couple of weeks. In both cases, my blogs had outgrown the old 2 column format, and they needed more room. The processes ended up being almost exactly the same as yours, especially the panicking parts. I do have WordPress installed on my home computer, so I tried out the new themes there first, but there still ended up being some things that didn’t work on the live version; hence the panic. I do recommend tweaking offline first though, to minimize the problems.


[...] Char Polanosky has provided a useful guide for bloggers – 13 Steps to a Blog Redesign [...]


Just curious: Why did you deactivate and then reactivate all the plug-ins?


JHS – I deactivate them all because I also upgraded to a new version of WordPress and wanted to be able to isolate any issues.


[...] a business, but it isn’t limited to rich corporations. Charlene has written up a nice set of steps for a blog makeover that anyone could [...]


That’s great! I love what you’ve done with this site so far. :) Thanks for the tips.


Oh goodness! A testing server! Why didn’t I think of that, instead of waiting til odd hours of the night (or having panic moments during the day) while working on my own design, LOL.

Thanks for the great tips! I’m in the process of re-designing my blog right now. :)


I did almost the same thing a couple of months ago. I found it better to just install the theme and take it from there. I have Fantastico and haven’t used it to upgrade WordPress, maybe next time! Thanks for the advice.


[...] Keystrokes is offering up a platter of 13 Steps to a Blog Redesign you’ll not want to miss if you’re in the mood for a little blog Spring [...]

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