Tuesday, June 4, 2013

How to Blog Session #2: Design - Adding a Background

So you want to design your blog, huh? Well there are a few great resources to use that can help you do this in a pretty quick and painless way.

How to you change your blog background?
You've already created your blog (see Session #1), and you've chosen the "Picture Window" style design. Now it's time to choose a design that fits your personality and the content of your blog. There are many sites and individuals available that you can pay to create a custom blog design that fits your needs exactly. I choose to use the free layouts that are available because I'm poor. I'm a teacher, remember?

The two sites that I have found most helpful are found at Hot Bliggity Blog and The Cutest Blog on the Block.
These are two great sites that are very easy to follow. You can also search "free blogger backgrounds" to find more sites. Scroll through all of the sites and blog designs until you find one that you like.

There are a couple of choices you will need to make sure of when choosing a background...
1. Make sure you are choosing a Blogger background. Wordpress is another popular blogging platform, but things made for Wordpress don't necessarily work for Blogger. So just keep your eye out.
2. Choose the size of your background. There are different sizes for backgrounds - which one you choose is completely up to you, and how you want your blog to look.

  • Hot Bliggity Blog uses the terms standard, widened, and full-width. This refers to the amount of space that you have available for your posts. I always choose full-width so there is more room for the content of the blog, but you can choose whichever you like. And if you choose one and don't like it you can always redo it!
  • Cutest Blog on the Block has a few different options. You can choose backgrounds (like Hot Bliggity Blog) - she uses the terms 2-column and 3-column instead of standard and full-width. Or you can choose a template. This is a little bit trickier, so we'll talk about this in another post. For now, stick with a background.
How do I add the background I like to my blog?
3. You will need to copy the code for the background and add it to your blog. How you do that depends on where you got your code from. All sites that I've found with backgrounds give you directions on how to add it to your blog. So look for those and follow those directions over these, just in case there's something specific that you'd need to do. The general idea is to

  • Go to your blog dashboard. This is the page you are directed to when you log in to blogger. If you are looking at your actual blog, there is a link that says "Design" in the upper right hand corner.
  • Once on your dashboard, click "Layout" on the left hand side.This will take you to the general layout of your blog which I'll talk more about in a later post. 
  • Click one of the links that says "Add a Gadget". This will open up a pop up window that shows many different gadgets that you can add to your blog. The one you want to find says "HTML/Java Script". Click the + button on the right hand side.
  • This will open up a new pop up window for your HTML gadget. If you are unfamiliar with HTML, it's  another name for the code that computers use to run their programs. It's full of all kinds of symbols and strange things that only super geeky people and computers can read. OK, that's totally not true, but that's what I thought when I started my own blog last year. I have learned a lot about coding in the past year, but again, that's for a later post. 
  • Now you need to go back to the site that contains the blog background that you want to use. On Hot Bliggity Blog all you have to do is click the "Install" button right underneath the background that you want. The code is automatically copied for you. On The Cutest Blog on the Block you have to highlight and copy the code yourself. Either way, get the code copied, and head back to your own blog. 
  • Back in the HTML popup window that you created, leave the Title area blank, and paste the code in the Content section. D0n't alter it in any way. Just click "Save".
Now when you click "View Blog" you should see the template that you chose applied to your blog! Woohoo!! There's still a lot left to do, but for now, sit back and celebrate your first venture into the blogging/coding/computer world!

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