Look What I’ve Done

Nose Graze has a new look

If you didn’t visit Nose Graze yesterday, then you may want to head on over because things are looking a little different!

I launched a new design… before I was ready.

I’m very excited about my new design. You may know that I really struggled with whether or not I should go through with it but now it’s here and I’m so glad I did!

So why am I nervous? Because I launched before I was ready.

Yes I did a lot of testing, but I never had that feeling of, “Yes! It’s ready to go.” Instead I just closed my eyes and went for it. And that’s a bit frightening!

Let’s talk about my new design because it’s a pretty massive departure!

Things are certainly looking different to how they did before. Here’s a refresher of how it looked before:

The old blog design for Nose Graze

With the new design, I:

  • Went full screen (with more than just the header/footer).
  • Dropped the sidebar.
  • Upped the font size (18px is the new 14px).
  • Tried to find focus and clarity (I’ve decided that “WordPress” is the topic that best describes what Nose Graze is all about).

A strong focus on content above all else.

My blog is everything to me. I wanted that to be super front and centre. So with the new design, the emphasis is very clearly on the content.

Let’s talk about why I ditched the sidebar.

Sidebar or no sidebar? This can be a bit of a controversial subject.

If you’ve been around Nose Graze a while, you probably know that I’ve almost always been a sidebar minimalist (find out how you can be one too).

Well, with the new design, I knew I wanted to experiment with no sidebar. I love how clean the single column layout is. So before I made the leap, I evaluated my sidebar. I looked at the items I had in there and thought, “Which of these do I really need?” I came away with:

  • About me (good, but not 100% needed)
  • Social media
  • Search bar
  • Opt-in form

Once I had that list, I asked myself where I could put them if not in the sidebar. And believe it or not, it was super easy to find new homes for each of those items.

But you know what the hardest part for me was? Finding the perfect balance between the font size and column width. You have no idea how many times I messed with those values until I felt they were perfect!

I’m working on building my mailing list.

I’ve never not been building my mailing list. I’ve always offered subscriptions options on my blog. But I knew I wanted this to be front and centre on the new design.

But I’ve also made some massive technical changes to how my opt-ins work, which is another reason why I didn’t feel like I was ready to launch this design. So if you experience any technical difficulties when signing up, please let me know!

There’s more I want to say on the mailing list front, but I might save that for another blog post…

Big, clear typography.

Typography is always something I struggle with. It always has been and I’m sure it will continue to be in the future. I might be a big fan of fonts, but I have a really hard time picking good fonts for paragraphs and headings.

With the new design, I knew I wanted big, clear, and bold. It took me a while to realize this, but I also wanted to ditch the uppercase text I’d been using a lot before. This was a change I made later on in the design phase, but I finally realized that it looked too much like I was yelling at people, and I didn’t want that. I wanted big, clear messages without feeling like I was yelling them.

Originally I was using Proxima Nova 100%, but after a while it felt a bit… plain. So I introduced Roboto Slab into the headings, and it instantly pulled everything together!

There’s a new Comment Love under the hood.

This is one of those features that feels untested. It works, but something about it makes me antsy… so we’ll see how it goes!

I coded my own version of CommentLuv.

I went through this phase where I was dead set on condensing everything I could. I wanted to use fewer plugins and put everything under one neatly coded umbrella (my own Nose Graze plugin that powers my whole site). One of the plugins I ended up re-coding was CommentLuv.

Now, if you leave a comment, you won’t see the typical CommentLuv form, you’ll see something like this (provided it works):

Custom Comment Love that fetches the commenter's latest post

You can choose one of your blog posts to display along with your comment.

A new, free WordPress e-course!

Okay this is a pretty awesome one. I knew I wanted to add more free, all-in-one features on my blog. I have a lot of blog posts that provide valuable information, but one topic is often scattered across multiple posts. I wanted to bring one topic all together and deliver it in one product. That’s where my upcoming free e-course comes into play.

Make WordPress Your Bitch

HELL YES!

Make WordPress Your Bitch is a free e-course I’m developing. It’s for beginner to intermediate WordPress users.

I’m still planning out the exact list of topics, but we’ll be covering things like:

  • How WordPress works (this foundation knowledge is important!).
  • Ensuring you have a Plan B (backups, people!).
  • How to know if your site will break… before it happens! And take steps to prevent it.
  • Create an expert, automated workflow for better, faster blogging.
  • Create your own shortcodes to help save you time (and annoying, constant copying and pasting).

If this sounds like something that would interest you, sign up to be notified when it launches. The course will be 100% free so there’s no need to whip out your credit card. πŸ˜‰

I want to make WordPress my bitch!

The new design is coming to the shop soon.

You might notice that the Nose Graze shop is still sporting the old design. I actually do have the new design coded up for the shop, but launching it on the blog was stressful enough for one day, so I’m taking a break before I transition it over to the shop as well.

Okay, let’s talk! What do you think about the new design?

How do you feel about single column layouts? Love ’em? Hate ’em?

Photo of Ashley
I'm a 28 year old California girl living in England (I fell in love with a Brit!). My three great passions are: books, coding, and fitness. more »

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78 comments

  1. I will be missing the old design because I LOVE it so damn much!! I don’t really like single column but maybe it’s because I’ve never seen a lot of blogs who has it so I’m not used to it. I’m sooooo excited for the WordPress e-course. Thank you sooo much for making it free! As always, you rock Ashley!

    1. I loved the old design too SO MUCH at first, but I’m surprised at how quickly it got a little stale in my mind. πŸ™ I’m not normally so ready to move on after only a few months!

      I know single column is a tough thing to get used to. A lot of people either love it or hate it, haha!

  2. As I told you in Twitter, I absolutely love these colors! They remind me of a tangerine πŸ˜‰ I can’t tell you how much I’m loving this real though!

    I’m on my phone, so I’ll have to come back later to get the full effect. But I was just going to say I struggled with a sidebar. I don’t actually like them because the information seems repetitive, but honestly, I went with one just because I felt like my readers would hate that I didn’t have one simply because we’re all used to them. I love clean design, and thought about a single column with a bit of info in the footer widgets. But at the last moment, I chickened out.

    I may be rethinking that, since I’m trying to learn to code themes (shoot me!).

    Dani @ Novelfly recently posted: #YARC15 β€” Bear Witness
    1. Thank you so much Dani! I’m not usually an orange person but I was just SO FEELING IT with this design!

      I know exactly what you mean about sidebars. It feels like a place to just put stuff. I can see how they’re useful to quickly find certain things (social media, search bar), and you’re right that everyone is really used to them. But I think that also means that we’re really used to AVOIDING them. We know they’re there, we know they’re not super necessary, so our eyes are often trained to glance over them. That’s where the “F Layout” comes into play:

      http://webdesign.tutsplus.com/articles/understanding-the-f-layout-in-web-design–webdesign-687
      http://www.creativebloq.com/ux/how-human-eye-reads-website-111413463

      Our eyes are trained to read the full top bar and then just focus on the column on the left. Most of the sidebar gets ignored entirely!

  3. Excellent color choices. I have very bad eyes, on my way to cataracts again I think, and the fonts you chose are perfect. The body text sans serif is easy to read and the titles with the serif are a little happieIr. I personally would like the body text darker, but that’s just me.
    I think the single column may be the way of the future. It’s pretty much the same as viewing the blog on my iPad. The responsiveness (?) of Tweak Me puts the sidebar at the bottom automatically, correct? It’s just something for people to get used to.
    I was looking for a search box and couldn’t find one, I use them frequently.

    1. Thanks so much Elizabeth!

      You’re right about Tweak Me’s responsiveness. With any column layout, the columns collapse when viewed on smaller screens and they’re stacked on top of each other.

      Looks like I forgot to add my search box! I have a list of things I’ve forgotten, haha. I’ll be adding that into the header in a moment.

  4. I think I struggle with the idea of not having a sidebar, it’s like a crutch for me, I can’t help it, I ALWAYS need one, and as much as I like single column designs (I’m very picky on them, but I like yours a lot!) I don’t think I could ever change mine. Personal preference and all. This new design is very different to the old look, but I think it say a lot about where you want it to go, you’ve got a single topic and single aim, and a single column and it’s all BANG BANG BANG which is great. I’m liking it, but I’ll take time to coast through and adjust, much like everyone else. As long as YOU love it, then you’re rocking it Ashley! πŸ™‚

    Amanda @ Nellie and Co. recently posted: 5 Important Signs Your Blog Direction Has Changed
    1. I totally understand what you mean about the sidebar, Amanda.

      For me, I was just constantly putting less and less and less in my sidebar, until finally I wasn’t attached to anything in there at all. I could find new places for all of them.

      Another thing that helped me with the decision was reading about “the F-Layout”. That’s a concept based on eye tracking studies that show people read in the shape of “F”. They see the full top part of the page, then as they start reading down, their eyes stick to the left side of the page (the main post column) and almost completely ignore the sidebar area. And I realized that I definitely followed this pattern myself. I very rarely look at the sidebar unless I’m specifically like, “Okay I want to follow. Where’s the opt-in box?” You know?

      1. I do totally understand your decision to change it all. If you’re not feeling sidebar, and you don’t use one yourself all that often, then don’t do it, which makes perfect sense. I’ve really been enjoying jumping around with the new look, and the more I see and use it, the more I like it, so good job. I also agree with Elizabeth on the colour scheme, it’s simple, but it works!

        Amanda @ Nellie and Co. recently posted: How I Create My Blog Graphics | Part One: Picmonkey
  5. I’m not really a fan of single column layouts, but that’s just because I’m not used to it, I suppose! And this looks great, as always. Congratulations on finally finding your focus, Ashley! And I signed up for the ecourse too, because it sounds awesome. Now I lie quietly in wait for your email plugin . . .

    1. For a while I wasn’t a fan of them either, but then I kind of woke up one day and was like OMG I LOVE THEM! I’m really attracted to how clean they are.

      I’m so excited about the e-course! I have a great outline planned!

    1. Your layout is lovely, JosΓ©phine!

      I totally agree with you about it being easier to read. With multi-column layouts, I always have to read off-centre a bit and it’s kind of annoying… especially when you scroll past the sidebar (like to the comment area) and it just looks weird to have the content off-centre with an empty space on the right.

      I’m really attracted to how crisp and clean single column layouts are. πŸ™‚

  6. I’m always for the change and trying out new designs. Your latest is not really I would choose for myself. I do not like orange/green combination. But tastes do differ. πŸ™‚
    Personally, I like it when a website has a simple sidebar. I always look for things there first. For example, I can’t seem to find you search bar anymore…

    BTW Thanks for a free course. You are awesome. I don’t think I’m a WordPress beginner. But I still sign-upp-ed. You never know when you will learn something new/useful. πŸ™‚

    1. Orange has never been my favourite colour, but for some reason I was totally feeling it with this design, haha.

      Search bar is on the list of things I forgot, LOL (along with sharing buttons). I’ve added it in now—it’s in the header.

      I hope you enjoy the e-course even though you’re not a beginner. πŸ™‚ I’m hoping to make it work for beginners and intermediates so hopefully it will be a good fit for you. I have a very exciting outline planned!

      1. Well that’s the most important part – that the design suits you, that you feel comfortable when you look at your blog, like it’s the representation of you.

        Hahaha found it. It’s kinda weird that it pops out, since the navigation is so narrow. Maybe it would be better if it slides out. Like on this theme: http://demo.onedesigns.com/pinboard/ (Just a suggestion of course).

        I’m looking forward to the e-course. I am sure I will learn something new or better ways to do the things I know. πŸ™‚

        And two little things:
        1. I don’t have an option to deselect a post (chose non) in your custom version of comment luv.
        2. Email newsletter email didn’t have post title in email subject. Just ‘There is a new post…’ Was it on purpose?

        1. Thanks for your suggestion!

          I thought about making it slide out but I didn’t really like pushing all the other navigation items away. And then what happens if someone has a small screen and it pushes out and then it falls onto a second line? I don’t know, I just stressed out about it LOL. Maybe I’ll keep experimenting though.

          I’ll see about adding an option to select none.

          And yeah the email was intended to not have the post in the subject. Well, it’s not what I WANT but I made some changes and not having the post in the title is a limitation I’m working with now… long story!

    1. You should totally do it!! I’m all about simplicity these days. I love how crisp and clean single column layouts are. No fuss, no distractions, just pure content.

      Reading up on “the F-layout” may convince you:

      http://webdesign.tutsplus.com/articles/understanding-the-f-layout-in-web-design–webdesign-687
      http://www.creativebloq.com/ux/how-human-eye-reads-website-111413463

      I read those and could TOTALLY relate. When I look at a blog, I may look at the first widget in the sidebar, but after that, I stop. I don’t visit a website for the sidebar—I visit it for the posts, so that’s what my eyes are always looking at.

    1. Thank you Lauren! You’re totally right about adding a bit of cheer. It feels happy, vibrant, but still with a bit of professionalism. πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks Anne! I love minimalistic designs too. I find that I almost never look at sidebars, so that’s why I decided to totally do away with mine.

      The e-course is going to be awesome, if I do say so myself! πŸ˜€

  7. I think it looks really clean and neat. I love it! I liked the old one too but this is a really nice change. Coming from Blogger I was a huge fan of three columns and now on WP I’m using two columns and I didn’t think I’d like it and I love it. I would think it would be hard for me to go to a single column, but then again, I didn’t think I’d like two. I know one thing… reading is a lot easier on the single column. Fantastic job!

    1. The single column look certainly is an acquired taste. I used to not be a fan, but then I kept dropping more and more from my sidebar and started to fall in love with how simple and clean the one column layout is. So I went for it!

      And I agree that reading is easier. Sometimes I don’t like having to constantly veer to the left when reading post content you know? I like it to be totally centered!

    1. Thanks Natalie. πŸ™‚ It definitely seems like most bloggers have a sidebar, but I’m really digging the simple single column look!

  8. I loved the old design but this one looks great too! I don’t mind single column layouts but I normally like it on pages and then have a sidebar on posts. I definitely love single columns on a homepage though. πŸ™‚ Loving the colors and the call-to-action!

    PS. I’m impatiently waiting for you newsletter plugin πŸ˜‰

    Amir @ Not So Literary! recently posted: Review: How I Fly by Anne Eliot
    1. I think I will be adding the button back, I just didn’t get around to styling that whole section yet but I wanted to launch now instead of waiting. πŸ™‚

  9. I’m torn. I like single column layouts on mobile devices, but on the desktop, I usually prefer a side bar. Single columns mean I have to tab up to the top or the very bottom to find the information that I seek. Even when I don’t always use that information regularly, it makes it feel like an extra step. Sometimes, people don’t keep things as clean as you do either, so not having something important in the sidebar makes it harder to find things as well. I end up missing things when they are more, hidden, because of a lack of such. Maybe I just dislike them for blogs. I don’t mind them on other sites, or news sites even, but blogs. Change is uncomfortable. Someone above mentioned they liked single column on pages and sidebars on posts. Have to agree with that. It looks beautiful though.

  10. I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS NEW DESIGN. It’s clean, the colors are so bold and pretty, and it’s different from what I’ve seen out there before! I love how you launched before you thought you were ready- because so many times, we psych ourselves out with false things. So kudos to you for just taking that leap of faith. πŸ˜€

    Also, I am SO excited about this new e-course!!! Am signing up now for the email list, can’t wait! <33

    Aneeqah @ My Not So Real Life recently posted: Comment on Bout of Books 14: TBR & Goals by Aneeqah
    1. AHH THANK YOU!! πŸ˜€

      Last night I was writing a list of all the things I forgot to add (like social sharing links, a search bar, etc.). So I definitely wasn’t 200% ready, but I’m still glad I went for it! Phew!

      The new e-course is going to be awesome!! I have a totally great outline in place and I’m hoping to get a good head start on it during some SUPER LONG plane rides I have coming up at the end of this week.

    1. Thanks Anna!

      You’re totally right that it’s subjective. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer (or a best way), it just depends on your preferences.

  11. congrats on the new look! I’m still on blogger but regularly read your blog (a small part of me is considering switching but I’m not sure I can be bothered to learn a whole new platform!)

    The add a favourite post thing doesn’t seem to be working for me …or just taking a really long time?!

    1. I just tried it with your site and it took like 10 seconds to trigger, but eventually it did. πŸ™‚

      I know learning a new platform can be tough. It’s a big change and there’s definitely an adjustment period!

  12. Wow…it looks amazing, Ashley! So clean and minimalistic and professional, yet still so pleasing to the eye. I don’t think I’d ever have the guts to go to a single column…I love cluttering up my sidebar! lol (In between hating how cluttered it is!! lol) This really looks great though.

    And I’m so signing up for that e-course…I love all your tips and I think it is wonderful that you are so willing to share your knowledge and experience with us!

    Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf recently posted: Cover Reveal and #Giveaway: Silenced in the Surf by Kate Dyer-Seeley
  13. The colors are so bright and summery!!! β˜€οΈ Love it.

    I read your posts on my phone 80% of the time so the sidebar was all the way at the bottom. This sidebar change didn’t affect me that much. I’m excited to see this on the computer.

    I can read your posts on buses and trains now. πŸ˜€ Thanks for the big font! 🌻

  14. I fucking love this new design! This is how I picture you if I knew you in real life. This is cohesive approach to your quest to Brand yourself and make site look professional for your business side. It looks AMAZING!

    PS. it also looks a lot like how I want my site to look. I feel like you’ve been inside my brain. Damn it. lol

    Bree @The Things We Read recently posted: Life after Winning the Lottery
  15. Aw, I love the new colors! They’re bright and attention getting. And I love the header picture. πŸ™‚ It’ll take some getting used to the sidebar free look, but that’s okay. I will miss the old design, because I liked it a lot, but this is great! I really love the font and it’s sizes too. Also, I tried to sign up for the e-course emails and it just kept loading and not going through for me, I thought I’d let you know. πŸ™‚

    Amber recently posted: Blogoversary Day 5: SPOTLIGHT TIME
    1. Thanks Amber!

      It looks like you were added to the list but you haven’t confirmed your subscription. I’ve had the confirmation email re-sent to you just in case you didn’t get it!

  16. I love the new design! Congrats! I am especially in love with your custom commentluv idea. Any plans to make it a tutorial or to sell it? I think there would be interest!

    1. Yeah maybe I’ll see about writing a tutorial. Good idea! It’s not even that difficult. πŸ™‚ I shall add this to my to-do list!

  17. Love the new look-feels more ‘grown up’ πŸ™‚ And I prefer the no sidebar look-again, makes it feel a bit more grown up/professional!

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  19. Wow Ashley I think it looks really really great! I admire your ability to remove the sidebars, still can’t do that quite yet on mine. πŸ˜‰ But I really love the colors, the bigger font, everything is really easy on the eye. Nice one!

  20. I actually really love your new layout, I love that it’s so bright and spacious. I keep looking at your header now *it’s so beautiful* and it shows how carefree you can be if you “make WordPress your bitch” πŸ˜‰ he he. Yes, I’m in love with it :3
    Take care,
    Amy x

    Amy recently posted: The Best of Milan!

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