“The range of what we think and is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice there is little we can do to change until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.”
R.D. Laing

WordPress – Design


Before delving into the details of how design is actually done in WordPress, it can be useful to have an overview of what issues are involved in “design” – there is more to it then meets the eye. I will touch on three aspects involved in the design of your blog: looks, function and technical.


The look of your blog is probably the first thing that comes to mind because it is what our senses experience directly – the visual experience. This aspect of design determines the visual elements of your blog – this includes a general layout of your web-pages within which colors, fonts & images are used to create an overall look.

A great thing about visual design on web-pages is that it is separated from the actual content. The same content can be given different visual designs causing it to look and feel different. You can think of it as an outfit you choose to wear – you can put on loose fitting beach clothes or tailored office suites that feel and look very different, but it’s still you inside.

This is done using a technology which designers love to use called CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) and if you want to get some idea of what this enables you can visit a website called CSS Zen Garden which is a gallery of “outfits”. You can see how the same content takes on completely different looks and shapes using this technology. Click here to visit CSSZenGarden


How your blog works is at least (if not more) as important as how it looks and yet this is often a neglected issue. There are two key challenges when it comes to function – and facing them correctly can completely change your experience:

  1. Knowing what your options are. It is safe to assume that we can all relate to visual looks – we have preferences when it comes to colors, shapes & images. But most of us who are starting off with blogs don’t know much about the possibilities open to us when it comes to function. If you have no idea what I’m talking about then I’ve made my point! Know this – everything you see on a WordPress blog (for example: a list of categories, a list of recent posts, a list of tags, a list of recent comments, a calendar, etc.) is a matter of choice – someone chose to place it there. There are so many options available to you and you should get acquainted with them. You can do this by:
    • Visiting blogs you like and paying attention to how they work, how you use them (how do you find posts that are interesting for you to read?) and ask yourself what you like and what you would like to try on your blog.
    • Consult with a professional – if someone is helping you create your blog, ask them to tell you a little about what options there are.
    • Stay tuned to this series of articles, I hope to provide you with more useful information.
    • Ask around. There are many people in the WordPress community who offer tips and insight on what you can do with WordPress. If you’ve read this far and are familiar with the basic concepts of WordPress and have started your own blog – then you can definitely start moving around independently in the WordPress community. You can also read and consult with people in the WordPress Forums.
  2. Knowing what options you need. This can be a very tricky issue, fortunately there is way to get around it. The reason it can be tricky is that usually when you are just getting started neither you nor anyone else knows what you will need. One popular approach to this is speculating about what your future needs will be – 99% of the time this does not work. Your needs will change as your writing and outreach evolve – so what can you do:
    • Create Content. It you haven’t already done so – then start writing now! This is the best way for you to discover what you need.
    • Start simple . Start with what you have and what you need right now – this won’t be very much – which means it will be very simple. Don’t fumble around with your future monthly newsletter (what it will look like or how it will work) when you haven’t yet written your first post which no one has read!
    • Evolve. If you start simple you will experience for yourself how great WordPress is at changing and evolving. Focus on content and your needs will make themselves known to you. If you keep moving forward – evolution will occur on it’s own; if you just think about moving – evolution will evade you.
    • Copy – do what others do. You are not the first person to start blogging, millions of others are doing it with WordPress. Look around at what others are doing and pick up some ideas that you can use.

You should feel at home with your blog, you should enjoy visiting it and you should be passionate about inviting other people to it. Therefore when thinking of the functionality of your blog, keep at least two people in mind – yourself and your best friend.  Think not only what you want for yourself but also what you’d like to give people who will be visiting with you – what kind of experience would you like them to have?


Beyond the form and function of your blog there are additional technical aspects to the way it is built. They affect things like:

  • Search Engine Compatibility. Search engines (such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.) will work for you and bring people to your blog… if you let them! Good web-pages are built to welcome search-engines and provide them with information that let’s them know about you and your content. The more they know about you the better they can do their job and let people who are searching the web know about you.
  • Browser Compatibility. There are numerous web-browsers (Firefox, Safari, Opera, Internet Explorer, etc.) that people will be using to view your websites. Some of the web-browsers differ in how they interpret the hidden-contents of web-pages. Good web-pages are built to insure that your web-pages work & look good in the various popular browsers – insuring
  • Design Compatibility. Good web-pages are built to give designers the maximum freedom to create good designs. They have an internal (semantic) structure that makes it possible for designers to work their magic.
  • Social Web Compatibility. As your blog evolves, it will reach more people in many ways. At any given time there are many standards and technologies that make it possible for you to connect with other people and for other people to discover you. Good web-pages are built to make this possible for you.

There are many hidden qualities to web-pages. They are usually technical and difficult to comprehend unless you are technically savvy. WordPress is built by a community of developers who know their way around these issues and make it all available to you. BUT for all to this to shine through and work for you, your WordPress design needs to make use of everything WordPress has to offer.

In the next article in this series we will look at WordPress Themes and see how all of this comes together to make sure you have a great looking and working blog.

This entry was posted in outside, Wordpress. You are welcome to read 3 comments and to add yours

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