I used to visit one of my favorite blogs two or three times a week.
Then one day, when I clicked on my bookmark, I got one of those “Under Construction” signs.
That was six months ago and the sign’s still there, so I thought this would be a good time for a post on blog design.
Should you do it all at once or tweak it a little bit here and a little bit there, and just always be fixing, fixing, fixing?
Change it all and get it over with
You have two options if you want to do a complete redesign all at once:
Set up a test blog: Set up a test blog on a sub-domain and set it to private so the search engines won’t index it. Then load it up with a dozen or so posts . I’d use articles from one of the directories, like Ezine Articles just to be safe on the duplicate content issue. (Be sure to include the resource boxes and links.) Include plenty of images and a video or two so you can make sure everything’s going to line up the way you want it to.
Then just start working on your design. When you have it set you can transfer all the design files over to your main blog. Be sure to back up your main blog before you start the transfer process, just to be on the safe side.
This is really the best solution because it allows you to keep your blog up and running while you’re working behind the scenes on the design.
Just change it: Your other option is to just change everything all at once. Before you start, be sure to back up your blog – just in case. If you’re simply downloading a new theme that requires little customization you should be OK, assuming you’re just going from one WordPress theme to another. If you’re changing platforms or you’ll be making extensive customization changes, then I really recommend you work our all the bugs on a test blog first.
Keep On Fixing, Keep On Fixing
Some bloggers don’t want to make a complete design change over night. They don’t want to shock their readers, or worse, they don’t want their readers to think they’ve come to the wrong blog. They may also not have the time to invest in making a complete change and they just want to do a little at a time.
This way of making a change might seem pretty time consuming, especially if you eventually want to change the whole thing. It seems like you’d be forever fixing, fixing, fixing, but here’s something you need to consider…
Either Way, You’ll always be fixing, fixing, fixing
Even if you did a complete overhaul today, within a month or two you’d be in there fixing something. Moving ads around to avoid ad blindness. Adding a new opt-in form or changing the text on your existing form or adding a new widget to promote your Twitter feed. They may be little changes that just take a minute or they may take a few hours. But you’re always going to have to keep on fixing, keep on fixing, if only to improve your conversion rates.
So don’t risk crashing your blog because you think you can get it done and never have to worry about it again. Your blog doesn’t get much traffic when there’s a big, yellow “Under Construction” sign on the home page.