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Thursday, July 5, 2007

Design a Logo, part 1

My friend, Lynn prompted my post for this week. Do you need a logo for your website? Think about this carefully. We are a people driven to categorizing ourselves under some illustrative umbrella, but it's often not necessary.

Sometimes judicious use of color and a strong font is enough to bring our ideas across. My website uses planets as a background. Cool, because I like space art and I write primarily SF. But as I develop my writing chops it is becoming limited. I don't just write SF anymore. I write fantasy, humor and creative nonfiction. While I still like the dark blue and white color scheme, the planets may disappear in lieu of something more generic and less tied to science fiction.

For this blog, I did just that. I used a foam green background and a dark rust header. Text is black and the side links are dark blue. Simple. Refined. Professional. I'm not trying to put on airs here. All I want to do is produce a clean looking blog that is easy to navigate.

Too many photos and cutesy illustrations clog up the works in my opinion. They may be fun to first time visitors but return guests will simply ignore them and get on to the meat of your post. You do have meat, don't you? Not much point in keeping a writing blog if you're not posting something people want to read.

You'll make more of an impact when art is introduced occasionally. It tells people there is something special about that day's post. Remember too, there are no absolutes. Post pictures if you find them appealing, but make them memorable pictures that have something to do with your post.

The first order of business is to pinpoint your genre. Much like honing in on the nut of your story when creating your blurb, a logo follows the same formula. You have to break down your writing style to its smallest denominator.

I check out every new author link I see, just to scope out the design elements on their website. I've found the very best art and design elements are on erotic romance sites. No kidding. The art is almost always very polished, very sophisticated and professional. Nothing sleazy or pornographic, but definitely titillating and always fun to browse.

Many of them use professional designers and it shows. In a subgenre like erotic romance, you don't want to send out the wrong message.

Websites and blogs should try to stick to one genre at a time unless they're compatible, like mystery and romance or SF and fantasy. You never want to mix disparate genres, like YA and erotic thrillers. If you write both, build a separate site for each.

Tomorrow: Design elements with examples