Choose Your Own Design

This Week In Writing, we explore the wonderful world of blogs, where writers truly get creative.

Choose Your Own Design
Photo by Dragos Gontariu / Unsplash

Since setting up a self-hosted Ghost blog as my content hub, I've been thinking about what I want the site to look like. I'm using the out-of-the-box Casper theme, which is pretty solid but not the truly original look I want. Today, let's look at how design and writing go hand in hand while checking out some unique blogs.

With the decentralization of the internet, the humble blog is making a comeback, and I couldn't be happier. I strongly believe that writers should control their content and not be fully dependent upon any platform. Doing so means you have total control over everything, including the design.

When I self-published my book last year, I was responsible for every step of its creation. I hired an editor and an amazing cover/layout artist who truly helped the book shine. Working with that artist let me dictate exactly how I wanted my work presented, all the way down to page flourishes.

Self-hosting my writing allows for the same level of detail and control. While some writers might see the design as a burden, I see it as an opportunity for creativity.

My website's current color pattern is based on Ahsoka Tano. The orange accents with cream text match Ahsoka's coloration. After all, I am a Wayseeker through and through. While I enjoy the color scheme, I'm ready for a customized Ghost theme.

Back in the day, I would code my own WordPress themes. I created pixel-perfect designs that were exactly as I envisioned, right down to the font and border-radius. As HTML and CSS evolved and my time to keep up with something completely unrelated to my job or hobbies, I realized customizing off-the-shelf themes was more my speed. Before switching from WordPress to Ghost, I was using a modified version of the Kadence theme. Now, I'm looking at options for Ghost.

In my search, I've also been looking at other blogs to get a feel for people's stylistic choices. Truly, personal blogs are design playgrounds, and I love them! Here are a few standouts:

  • Basic Apple Guy: Feature huge feature images, Basic Apple Guy comes in with a clean look that highlights his creations.
  • Gabrielle Wee: Gabrielle's site is all about big text that feels like a dark-mode code editor. It's fun and bright, and I love how Mastodon is integrated into the site for likes and comments -- I really need to figure out how that works!
  • Cassidy Williams: Similar in style to Gabrielle's site, Cassidy features bright colors and clear text. Unlike a true blog, Cassidy's site is more of a landing page that takes you to various places.
  • 404 Media: 404 made a splash last week when it launched. The dark mode with bright green accents is an homage to the early days of computing. Plus, I really dig that they launched on Ghost! It highlights what kind of design is possible on the platform.

I'll continue to search for my site's inevitable design style and soak up the creativity of other writers. Do you have a unique bog style, or do you have a blog you love? Send it my way!

A Note About Submissions

I've really gotten ahead of myself for submissions to The Writing Cooperative. Pieces are being scheduled about two weeks out while I continue my home renovation. This extended timeline provides me with peace of mind and ensures The Writing Cooperative stays active despite my erratic living situation. Related, new writing requests are taking a bit longer than usual right now. Thanks for your patience.

Programming Note

Given the above and the holiday on Monday, I'm taking a break from the newsletter next week. See you all on September 12!