Trials & Tribulations of Using Templates & Designers.

As beauty bloggers we all aspire to have the best blog possible within our means. 

Something we can be proud of, that reflects us. A place to be passionate about products, places and people we love. It is no great surprise, that bloggers employ web designers to customise their page or to install a template all to improve their slice of the pie.

I have had some different experiences lately and just wanted to share these with you. I'm not here to name and shame, just to give you guys out there who are thinking of getting someone to help you a little bit of advice.
I had been thinking of making a few tweaks to my blog for a while. I find the longer I have written a blog for the more ways I think to improve it.  As I read blogs, I seem to gain inspiration from them - thinking of things to add or change.  My main aim is to have an attractive blog, with great content and to be as reader friendly as possible with clear navigation.

Originally I reined in the help of the lovely Serena (on 2 occasions) from Pretty Wild Things to help re-design my blog. I was really happy with the overall result and felt the blog reflected me perfectly (my current design with my cat). She was professional and certainly very patient.  

As time went on there were many small changes I realised I could do. Wanted to update it a little more; change the social buttons, add certain HTML code - who understands this anyway? Change the date headers, customise the font. The list goes on.

I found a web designer on Twitter so headed off to her website to see what was on offer. Perfect.  A small charge for customisation.  The portfolio looked good. So I promptly got in touch, sent payment and the instructions for my updates. I was so excited.

I cannot tell you how disappointed I was with the service. Granted, she kept in touch to confirm when she would be working on the blog, however when she had finished with my blog, there were no visible changes.  It all looked exactly the same. I was £27 poorer and my blog remained unchanged.

If you decide to purchase a custom design/changes, be careful and check the designers terms thoroughly. I paid £27 for a list of things to be changed.  However this particular designer did only 2 revisions.  Even when I was not satisfied with what had been changed, that was basically it. To change further she requested more money. Even though for a whole custom blog design this was only £20 or £25. Surely I should have been offered this in the first place?

I wanted to change the date and have this in a circle at the top of each post, however when she had changed this, it just didn't look right or suit my blog. So I asked if she could revert to the original layout and just switch it up a little bit. Surely this was 2 revisions (as we were still dealing with the date).  Apparently not, I had to pay more.  Feeling like money had been poured down the drain, I left it, feeling very fed up. The social buttons weren't customised they had had a colour change.  My blog looked the same to me.  According to said designer, too many revisions were tedious! Surely you want your customers to be happy? After all, isn't it all trial and error to achieve what you want? I felt she had earnt a quick buck and not really done anything at all to help me. It felt as though making changes to my blog were a total chore.  I felt very uninspired and down-beat.

After reading many blogs, I toyed with the idea of losing the pink, keeping the cat header and going for a black/sleek theme. Changing it up completely.

I thought I had found the perfect person to help me with this.  Being a regular reader of Vivianna Does Make up and Lily Pebbles, I have always admired their blogs from afar. Sleek, professional and well-laid out.  I scrolled down the page to see who designed these beautiful blogs. Smukkeberg.....

I had high hopes. Again they were dashed.

Smukkeberg promised sleek, beautiful templates and they are. The service was great. within half an hour of paying the template was installed. I could not wait to see my Vivianna-esque design. Outlook pinged. Email received. Blog was complete. 

With baited breath, I headed over to the familiar and my heart sank a little. I was expecting a sleek version of my previous design already to go, with no effort needed.

Bean's Blog was a higgledy-piggledy, sleek mess. No problem I thought, I can switch it around, go to Blogger layout and sort it out in a few minutes. Easy job.

I couldn't have been more wrong. My tabs had disappeared, I had duplicated widgets,  HTML code I could make no sense of. Total confusion.

I asked the designer if they could help, but no, I was on my own. He had installed a template, I could make no sense of. I didn't and still don't know how to rearrange it all so it resembles my blog. So much harder than I thought, when you're not a computer whiz. It sits there unused.

Call me naive, but I thought it would automatically be the same layout as the previous design, no adjusting necessary.

Luckily I had been chatting to a lovely girl on Twitter (Eleanor) who agreed to help me fix my blog. In a state of panic I sent a frantic tweet asking for her help.

Being a total professional she had already had a copy of the original cat template (she was going to do some tweaks for me before I decided on the sleek design). Order was restored and the black template was put on a test blog to see if she could help me figure it out. Even this lovely lady could not get to grips with this strange template. Both at a loss and after what felt like ages scratching our heads we decided to stick to my lovely cat and tweak it up!

At this point I felt deflated and totally fed up, I had paid for this posh template, and even a HTML Queen could not figure it out. How would a complete HTML novice cope?  Don't get me wrong the templates are lovely and the service was good.  However if you need something easy to amend and re-arrange this is not for you.

With the cat back on the blog, we set to it. After numerous emails, discussions and cups of tea I had a list as long as your arm of things to improve and change.  Literally within 2 days, every single change I had wanted right from the get-go had been done. No hassle.  No fuss.  Eleanor changed everything so quickly and easily.  All this was done, at no charge.  I did offer to pay, however this girl did all this to help out a fellow, struggling blogger.  I told her she was my guardian angel!

So 3 weeks after the original changes, I think it is now complete (for now anyway). 

Maybe the problems with the sleek design, were a sign to keep the pink. After all who does not like a bit of pink?

Ultimately this post is to warn other bloggers. If you want to install a template, If you require customisations to your blog, check the terms, what the blogger/installer/web designer offers and for what price. If there are any stipulations or limitations. Hopefully this post will warn you all, so you can avoid expensive mistakes.

Has anyone else had any good/bad experiences with web designers?  Please let me know, I would love to hear from you.

***Note: Bean's Blog has since been updated to a monochrome, sleek look***