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Saturday, 2 January 2016

A New Year & A New Home Page!

Recently I started to upgrade Only Crumbs Remain's BlogSpot home site and thought it may be useful to share my experience so far.  


Happy New Year to everybody who pops by Only Crumbs Remain, Mr E & I hope you've all had a lovely few days enjoying the festive celebrations with your family and friends and that Santa brought you what you hoped for.  I was so excited to receive my main gift this year, more about that in a future post!  We also truly hope you've not been affected by the devastating floods which have hit this part, and other parts, of the UK in recent days!  Our heart goes out to you if you've been affected.
Well, as it's a New Year Only Crumbs Remain is having a face lift!  Botox, liposuction, implants; the works!  Well, slight exaggeration there, but I'm certainly giving the blog an overhaul.   In light of the fact that I'm attempting the upgrade myself, rather than paying a technical guru to do it for me, I thought I'd share with you a few pointers regarding my experiences thus far.


Image courtesy of Pixabay
Firstly, you need to know that I don't particularly have a technical mind, a creative mind arguably yes, but not a technical mind.  Just ask my niece, Zoe, of Oh Zoe.  I'm sure she'd agree with me there given all of the little queries I've thrown her way over the past months since Only Crumbs Remain was launched!  So, trust me, if I can do small but significant changes to a BlogSpot blog, then you can too!

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Given the fact that I'm no tech head as I mentioned above, I've been relying on internet tutorials to make tweaks here and there to my BlogSpot based blog.  Sadly, and to be honest, some tutorials either don't work, are written in poor English (yes, far worse than mine!) or even seem to expect the reader to have a little HTML and CSS knowledge already.  I certainly haven't got that knowledge.   I'd also imagine most bloggers don't have that knowledge either when they start out on this wonderful blogging experience.  I must admit I'm starting to understand the CSS code (the styling side of things such font type, size, colour and so on) a little more now, but that said I certainly couldn't sit down and just write some code and expect it to work!  I'll rephrase that actually and say that I certainly couldn't sit down and just write some code.

So, yes, I openly admit it, I've been undertaking an exercise of cutting and pasting.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

The site I've happily stumbled upon and found to have worked for me is called HelpBlogger  and is written for blogs using the BlogSpot / Blogger platform.  The site is well written, easy to understand and follow, and doesn't expect you to have any HTML / CSS / JavaScript knowledge at all!  Phew, that's a relief!  The tutorials go through the implementation of each widget in small fairy steps.  Perfect for a non-tech person like me!  It has a whole host of great gadgets and widgets and is certainly worth checking out if you've not come across it before.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

So what changed have I made to Only Crumbs Remain thus far?

Well, I've only implemented two pieces of code so far, but to be honest they've made a massive difference to the blog's look and feel already - well it has in our opinion.
  • Firstly I've completely altered the lay out to the home page.  The site now features a masonry grid style layout which I find far more aesthetically pleasing, not only does the reader no longer need to scroll half a mile down the page to view a handful of recent posts, but it also looks far more modern.  Go on, check it out.  I hope you like it as much as we do!  Though do be aware that it's still very much work in progress
  • Secondly I've introduced some numbered navigation buttons to the bottom of the home page, eliminating (in the most part) the 'Newer Posts' and 'Older Posts' buttons often found at the bottom of BlogSpot templates.  
Image courtesy of Pixabay

So what have I learnt thus far?

  1. Set up a test site. If you're keen to implement a new template layout rather than selecting a pre-designed template through the BlogSpot Template button, then you're going to have to use some HTML & CSS code.  Rather than copying and pasting the code straight into your live blog I would strongly recommend setting up a test BlogSpot site.  You'll obviously need to set up a handful of dummy posts too but this should only take half an hour or so.  By using a test site, you can play around with the supplied code without fear of it affecting your own site.  Once you're happy with what you've implemented repeat it in you 'real' site. 
  2. Backup your template.  Once you're happy with how the test site looks you will then need to suck it up and implement the code into your live site!  If you're like me it can be a little scary after all the live blog is your baby and you don't want it to go wrong.  So, firstly take courage from the fact that you have already successfully applied it to the test site and secondly remember to backup your template.  If something does go wrong you will be able to upload your original code and nobody will be any the wiser.
  3. Change the reader status to private.  Before making the changes to your live blog, you may be wise to change the reader status from 'public' to 'private', (you can do this by going to through 'Setting' followed by the 'Basic' button found in the dashboard and clicking the relevant button at the bottom of the page) after all you don't necessarily want your readers looking at your blog posts when the layout is potentially all over the place!  Perhaps even consider sending out a message or two via social media platforms to advise your followers that your blog will be off-line for a short while.  Follow this up with another message once your blog has been set back to 'public' reader status.   
  4. Code changes don't always show in the private reader status. Be aware that some code doesn't show as being implemented until your BlogSpot blog has been set to 'public' reader status!  I found this out the hard way!  I had been implementing the code for numerical navigation.  The pre-written code had been meticulously copied and pasted into the relevant sections, it was then saved and I then eagerly clicked into my test blog expecting there to be some numbers.  Nothing, absolutely nothing had changed!  Why, oh why I wondered?  I checked the code and ensured I'd popped it in the correct place.  I even checked that I'd copied the whole section rather than missing off a bracket or two.  Everything was as it was meant to be.  The following day I came back to it and having noticed that over 140 comments had been left to this particular post, I began to wonder if other people had experienced the same issue.  Eventually I came across a commenter who simply advised that the code would show when the blog status was reverted to 'live'!  Hurrah! She was right, and the colour co-ordinated numerical navigation buttons are now showing at the bottom of my blog!
  5. The author isn't always able to respond to queries.  The author of HelpBlogger is clearly having a lot of success with his tutorials, but this in turn also means that people will contact him with queries.  Due to the time constraints it appears he can no longer respond to individuals.  Therefore, if you do experience an issue have a read of other people's comments (as I did in point 4) as you are likely to find that other people will have experienced the same problem and the author may well have been able to answer that question.
  6. Play and make notes.  When I implemented the masonry grid style layout, I found that I needed to play around with the CSS code a little, altering the font sizes, adjusting the vertical margins and so on.  Make the changes in your test site and play around with the numbers making notes as you go along.  Don't be afraid to play around with this part of the code; you can't break it and it's in your test site so it won't be affecting your real site.  By noting what you changed and what you liked will help you to apply the code far more confidently and quickly to your real site.
  7. Avoid implementing too many gadgets and widgets.  Now that I've successfully implemented two pieces of code to Only Crumbs Remain which have, in our opinion, made a huge difference to the overall look and feel and navigation, I'm keen to copy and paste more code into my blog.  BUT.... I need to remember to keep my feet grounded as too many gadgets and widgets can slow down a site thus spoiling the experience for the reader.      
  8. Finally, remember Rome wasn't built in a day!   Although the tutorials are really a copying and pasting exercise it still does take time.  So don't put pressure on yourself; take a break, it'll still be there the following day.
Image courtesy of Pixabay

What do I have planned for Only Crumbs Remain?

Well, I'm still working on point 8 above.  I have a list as long as my arm as to what I want / need to remedy in my blog.  Many of them are easy, but take enormous amounts of time.  Here's a handful of tasks which I have planned:
  • Tidy my sidebar
  • Implement some better social media icons
  • Ensure my images are of a consistent size
  • Build a clickable pictorial recipe index
   
So, I do hope that you like Only Crumbs Remain's new home page layout as much as Mr E & I do and I hope that you may have found this post of some help especially if you're looking at making some changes to your blog in the near future too!


Please note, this is NOT a sponsored post.  I wrote it because, as a non technical person, I found it a little difficult to find code which I felt I could trust and which was user friendly.  If I didn't like it, I wouldn't blog it!









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14 comments:

  1. Loved reading this post - I'm impressed how much you've been able to do yourself. It sounds hard!! Your home page is looking really good and very easy to navigate. I really need to crack on and improve my blog design too. It's one of my big 'must dos' for this year, but it feels like a big job. I really need to take note of Point 8 and break it down a bit and not get so impatient (I am the kind of person who really wants to build Rome in a day...and Paris and London while I'm at it!!) Good luck with the rest of your blog design update - I look forward to reading about (and seeing) what you do next. Hope you have a wonderful 2016! Eb x

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    1. Thank you Eb :-) Cutting and pasting isn't at all difficult ;-) I think it's useful to perhaps try to 'read' the code a little as parts will eventually start to make a little sense as the CSS is starting to do with me. There is still a lot I want to do, and I'm hoping I can find relevant tutorials which will help me in that quest (without it conflicting with code I've already implemented). By having my test site where I can play around and mirroring what I have on the 'real' site makes it all a little less scary.
      Thanks for popping by and commenting, and happy new year Eb,
      Angela x

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  2. I love your new home page Angela, it really is a showcase for your recipes & fab photos. It's been a pleasure discovering your blog & chatting with you on Twitter. I'm hoping to improve my blog this year, there is so much to learn but I'm going to take your advice & follow Point 8. Happy new year to you & Mr E & all the best for Only Crumbs Remain in 2016, Sarah x

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    1. :-) Aw thank you Sarah, you've really put a smile on my face with your kind words there. I love popping over to your blog too, you always share fabulous recipes with great tips. There's a lot to learn with this blogging thing isn't there - it's not just about making a great cake. Yes, one step at a time.
      Happy New Year to you too Sarah, here's to learning and slowly getting better at what we do :-)
      Angela x

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  3. all the best for 2016 and your new look blog! I am extremely rubbish when it comes to anything technical so i end up relying on my husband for everything but the most basic stuff. I know i need to learn more myself but it all takes up time which i don't seem to ever find enough of. maybe one day. xxx

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    1. I totally agree, there's simply just not enough time to do everything we want / need to do. I can well imagine that looking after 3 youngsters would certainly take up a large part of your day :-)
      Happy New Year Rebecca, and cheers for popping by to comment,
      Angela x

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  4. Oh what a lovely way to start a new year! I'm impressed how you managed to do it yourself, I'm the same, I try to do everything on blog myself and if I'm struggling, that's the time I asked my husband's help... it's part of our learning process as a blogger, isn't it? Lovely post, very informative! #LifeLovingLinkie

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    1. It certainly is a leaning process Reimer Ruby; it's a wee bit steep at times but it's so satisfying when you achieve something so useful and personally challenging.
      Thanks for your kind words,
      Angela x

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  5. This is a really helpful post. I like the fact you've said that Rome wasn't built in a day. I have a never ending list of things to try, fix or just play with on my blog and I tackle one every few weeks and see what happens. It;s important to remember any blog will never be 'finished' as things move on and there will always be new widgets and tech available. Well done on the changes you've made and good luck with the future ones.

    Sally @ Life Loving
    #LifeLovingLinkie

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    1. Thank you Sally. That's a great point actually Sally, about technology always developing and there always being a new useful widget to consider installing in our blogs. Here's to taking it one step at a time,
      Thanks for commenting,
      Angela x

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  6. New year, new face lift! There is something so refreshing about making changes to the blog's appearance. I guess this something only we bloggers/site owners can understand. :)
    Man, I wish I had known about that HelpBlogger site when I was with Blogger! I was as lost as a goose as I am no tech head either! Several times, I attempted to add widgets or change the title image/font and screwed things up so badly that I had to pay someone to fix my errors. :( - Amy @ http://thegiftedgabber.com/

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    1. It's been so helpful Amy, with great clear instructions about where to paste the code etc. I'd love to learn how to write the code myself ... but being realistic this isn't going to happen anytime soon (if at all) so using code that somebody is happy to share is a winner for me. Sounds like it was a little painful to the purse! I'm, hoping I don't get in that situation...that's why I've been using a test site and backing up
      It sure does give a blog / web page a face lift.
      Thanks for popping by and commenting,
      Angela x

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  7. Your site is looking great, and it's my fave colour! :D Have you found yourself becoming a little addicted to messing about with the code? I love it, and even though it can be really frustrating, when you do get it to work and look like how you want, like you say it is extremely satisfying. I can remember many years ago when I first got online looking at other peoples sites and thinking, 'that looks awful, I could do better', I mean purple writing on black backgrounds...it nearly made me blind trying to read stuff! So I taught myself in the same way you have, following tutorials and watching youtube videos, etc and I'm still learning now. Things change so quickly, and new innovations arise, it's near impossible to keep up, but it certainly keeps me entertained! Jealous of your masonry grid layout on the front page, I have had a little experiment with one on my wordpress site, but it didn't work right, so I'm leaving it alone for a bit, but will have another bash in the future ;) Well done you! x

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    1. Thank you so much Mands :-)
      Purple on black! Did they not want people to be able to read it! Green is definitely my favourite colour (especially vintage greens) - though it has to be the right shade and in the right location (ie/ no green carpets!) I certainly have been enjoying it. I am very much relying on cut and paste tutorials though, but I am starting to understand small sections and occasionally have an "ah, I understand that" sort of moment! I'd not thought of looking through YouTube for tutorials, I think that would be a worthwhile session. As you say, technology never stays still, I know I'll never lead the game, but I'll be happy as long as this little place is user friendly.
      Thanks for popping by Mands, and for your kind comments.

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Thank you for spending your time to read my recipe posts. Feel free to leave a comment, I enjoy receiving your feedback. However, due to spam I have activated comment moderation, which simply means that each comment will be read by myself before it is visable on Only Crumbs Remain. I shall publish and respond to your valuable comments as soon as I can. So please don't panic when your comment disappears when you hit the publish button :-)

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