14 August 2016

Things to consider before approaching an illustrator/web designer about blog redesign

Things to consider before approaching an illustrator/web designer about blog redesign. Nourish ME: www.nourishmeblog.co.uk

Things to consider before approaching an illustrator/web designer about blog redesign. Nourish ME: www.nourishmeblog.co.uk

I don't know about you, but I think about tweaking my blog design at least once a week ... or day. I got it redesigned way back in June 2015, so everything on here is pretty ancient. BUT, I do intend on getting things updated, and changed to exactly how I want them before the end of 2016. I just need to justify the expenditure first. God dammit.

So, this got me thinking all about what I learnt when I first got my blog redesigned, and it was totally different to what I was expecting. I was 95% clueless as to how these kind of things work when I first approached an illustrator and I am SO grateful that she held my hand all the way through and took baby steps whilst I was basically being an indecisive dick.

This is why I'm chatting to you all today: in an attempt to get rid of indecisive first timers, or old timers, and to remind me not to be a dick when I get my next redesign. There are things that you should definitely consider before approaching an illustrator or web designer, as if you go to them empty handed (and brained) you'll be wasting a whole tonne of both your time and theirs.

First up, think of how you actually want your blog to look. I know this sounds silly, and pretty darn obvious, but it can be a little overwhelming to think of it all in one go. So, start off with little things and build up. A colour scheme is always handy, and fairly easy to choose. If you don't really know where you want to go with that, whack on Paint (the old hero) and go through swatching colours on their colour wheel on a document. 

Once you've got a vague (or precise!) idea on a colour scheme, next up it might be nice to think what kind of style you would like. Illustrators will usually work with you on headers, logos and watermarks, whereas web designers can change everything for you. I went with a web designer and got everything sorted in one hit, including my header, buttons, logo, pages tabs, profile image, colouring, etc etc. It was pretty darn pricey to do though. 

With your header, it's nice to think about what kind of style you would like: are you looking for something floral? Or seasonal (those Autumn leaves though, damnn)? Or girly? Or bold? Start there and work until you get a more finite idea of what you want. For example, I worked out that I wanted a mandala, a blue and yellow design and girly, flowing writing. I then went from there with the web designer, but it took me far too long to get there!

An independent illustrator/blogger that some of you may know called Gemma Ellis was kind enough to let me interview her for this post to hear what things are like from the other end. You can find her blog here - please go and check it out! Here are her thoughts on illustrating a blog design:

What kind of services can an independent illustrator offer to a blogger?
It depends on the skills of said illustrator as they vary widely, but they can usually offer you a personalised blog header design, signature & watermark/logo. If they are also a web designer they'll likely be able to do all your coding and create buttons for you too, but generally these are two different professions.

What do you think someone should consider before approaching an illustrator about a redesign?

- Have a good idea of what you want! It's so frustrating for as a creative to get hired to do something and then be messed around by a client constantly changing how they want something to look. It's not fair on us when we spend a lot of time and effort on a design for you, for you to then turn around and say it's not what you wanted. Whilst we are the creatives, everyone likes different styles and an illustrator isn't psychic and knows exactly what you like, so you have to try and explain it to us in detail or show examples so that we get a good idea of what route to do down. It really helps!

Why should someone go with an independent illustrator over a big company?

- You're more likely to get something a little more unique and with more thought put into it. Big companies will more than likely have a lot of work coming in and you'll just be another client to add to the list. Independent illustrators usually have less work coming in which means they have more time to spend and will pay more attention to detail. Having more time also means that they'll be able to spend the time making various alterations for you until the design is how you want it.

Are there any tips you could give to someone who wants to redesign but doesn't actually know what they want?

- Look for inspo. Pinterest, Etsy and blogs you read and love (only to get inspiration!) Find a style you like the look of or want something similar to. That way when you approach an illustrator, you can leave it up to them but give them sort of an idea of how you want yours to look so they're not totally clueless and you end up with something you hate. When you're working with an illustrator or designer, especially online, it's all about those visuals.

Where is the best place for someone to find your work?

- Usually my portfolio website. I don't actually have any of my blog header designs uploaded yet but I'm going to get some up soon

Thank you so much Gemma for answering a lot of the questions I had and I'm sure other bloggers do too! You can find Gemma's twitter here if you have any questions about her work.

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