Let's have a quick look at just the headers that have graced my blog since I first opened it in June 2011:
Awww, my first header. <3 What did I love about this one? The simple clean design was really appealing. It got across two things I really cared about: pink and hearts. It's also got a slightly casual design to it thanks to the simplicity and the fonts I used.
Why didn't I keep it? Let's be honest, those hearts aren't done right--the crayon effect is two different shades because of two different background colors, the girl, who is outlined in skin tone and done in black shadow looks silly... and I ended up, despite it's simplicity, feeling this was kinda boring and plain as I started seeing what other people had. I wouldn't claim jealousy, per se, but rather a desire to have something "as good".
And here's my halloween header from 2011. I actually quite like this one. I stuck with certain elements, like the hearts and the font for my name (this was before I switched to just going "I Write, I Read, I Review" and before I started using my tagline, "the blog that rates in hearts". I really love the catgirl image in this. My nickname is "Mao" (like the sound a cat makes, only spelled differently), so it was sort of a play on that that if I was getting dressed up for Halloween, this is what I'd be. I am also much happier with the pumpkin hearts then I was with the pink ones.
Why didn't I keep it? Well, for one, it's a Halloween design, so it was seasonal from the get go. And for two, I got really, really, REALLY sick of that burgandy color background that blended into the bottom of the header by the time October was done. I can *still* remember how glad I was to take down this design. That was also partially because I had this one, though...
What was I thinking?! This is a case where my header was probably my least favorite aspect of a blog design, and I had the design in question for AGES. I do like the character and the picture of my dogs. I did that myself. But quoting a poem and putting my blog name in such an afterthought way were both mistakes. I think I had this from November til March, and then I decided I wanted something a little more "spring"...
This wasn't a "bad" header, and it went with a bright, lemony design that I recall getting some comments on. But it felt too much easter and not enough me. We can finally see that I started to use my tagline, though. How in the world did that take so long?! I think I felt a little detached from this header since I grabbed an image off Dreamtime and used that with some font. It also didn't help when I saw a few others with similar things. I realize that anyone can use stock imagery, but I like to be original. So it had to go...
This is far and away the most beautiful header that has ever graced my blog. It was a collaboration between my friend Renee over on DeviantArt and I (she did the art, I did the lettering / font choice / placement). It's actually Sarena from Sealer's Promise, sitting under the Tree of Life and holding a silver apple. It's gorgeous. BUT... it doesn't actually reflect this blog. *Totally MY fault, not Renee's.*
This might sound silly, but when I see purple on a blog my first thought is actually "Ramblings of a Daydreamer". *laughs* My *intent* was to have the background be the color of the sky in the Underworld, with leaves from the tree falling, and the effect turned out well... but while it pays homage to my book and my characters, it doesn't (yet again...) reflect me or the blog and I'm probably the only one who immediately "gets" what the design is about.
So here I am at the same DARN crossroad I always end up at... Am I just too much of a perfectionist to appreciate what I have here, or is it time to do something to this place *again*? And do I want to do the design work again, or do I want to concede that I do NOT have the skills needed to get what I want for this place and hire someone?
Letting go of creative control (of Anything!) absolutely terrifies me. There were a couple times when working with Renee when something wasn't quite how I wanted it, and telling her that was difficult. Who the heck am I to tell someone who can design such beautiful stuff anything? O.o Fortunately, it was mostly minor things (like we doubled my Tree of Life divider, above, so it would fit more narrowly and work right as a divider.)
Further, I'm on a pension so I need to make sure that if I hire someone that I KNOW what I want, because it's not something I can go and get redone in three months if I start to not like it.
Which leads to my questions for you guys:
1. Is there one of the designs I've had that you felt best captured the feel of this blog's content, writing, etc?
2. If not, maybe you can answer this: What do you think Would capture the essence of this blog? (Things that come to mind for me include hearts, butterlies, some type of female avi, and keep the leaves and the tree, but maybe making the leaves pink to reflect the romance angle I tend to take?)
3. Blog designer recommendations! I do know a couple people who do absolutely fantastic work (in my opinion), but I know that if I do decide to go the "hiring someone" route that I need to make my decision carefully.
Thanks for taking the time to look at this. Your feedback is deeply appreciated!