Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Interview and Giveaway! Moxie Design Studios

This week we're lucky to be featuring an interview with pro blog designers and authors Kathy Scoleri and Joelle Reeder of Moxie Design Studios AND a giveaway of their book, The IT Girl's Guide to Blogging with Moxie, which Kathy describes as "...a fun take on getting a blog up and running without falling asleep at the wheel." Kathy blogs at SafeMama.com and Joelle blogs at Tenth-Muse.com.

You launched Moxie Design Studios way back in 2003. Blogging sure has changed since then! Where do you think blogging is headed?

Joelle: Aside from becoming a more integrated part of mainstream media, it's pretty clear the female demographic in blogging has exploded in the last year or so.

Kathy: With communities like BlogHer.org, AlphaWomen.com and others, women are changing how powerful blogging can be. Marketers target women more and more since they tend to do the household buying.

Joelle: Women's voices and opinions are even more influential with the wide, varied exposure blogging provides.
What design trends are hot in blogging right now? What's not?
Joelle: Well, designs by Moxie Design Studios, of course! Heh. Women tend to be our bread n' butter, so we can speak to their preferences more, but happy, bright colors and illustrations are always popular requests. Something that sets their blog apart from the usual.

Kathy: Giant header banners are NOT hot, even though that seems to be a common blog design no-no.

Joelle: But what's hot? Twitter! People love to blog bite-sized these days and then incorporate the little badges and feeds into their blog sidebars.

Kathy: There are new applications popping up all the time that tend to be infectious, like Twitter, Pownce, Plurk, etc. We like Twitter the best.

Joelle: Anything that allows you to blog from your cell phone, pretty much. Or your iPhone, if you're one of those cool kids...
If you had to boil your advice on taking a blog "from lame to fame" down to one piece of advice, what would it be?
Kathy: It definitely boils down to the writer's passion. If you love a topic enough, it will shine through in what you're writing about.

Joelle: And, to that end, that passion can/will also reflect in the design and layout because you tend to to take more care and tinker with a hobby you enjoy... be it writing or design.

Kathy: If you don't feel passion for your topic, you will lose steam and it'll fall flat. My own personal blog is evidence of that.

Joelle: It's true. Crickets n' tumbleweeds, people. She doesn't bring us flowers anymore.

Kathy: Shut up! Like you're Miss Prolific! ;-)

Joelle: I am! Uh... sometimes. Anyway, back to passion, you can also have too much. Unrealistic expectations can lead to disappointment and the aforementioned loss of blogging mojo. But also, being overly passionate about your topic can make you long-winded and your entries daunting to read.

Kathy: Remember, people skim. Don't think you're immune, buddy!
It can be challenging to incorporate advertising into blogs without junking up the design. Do you have any tips?
Joelle: Avoid animation if possible and if you have to allow it, insist that it be minimal.

Kathy: As tempting as it is, try not to jam your entire site full of ads. Please. It not only takes away from your content, which is the real draw, but can make your site load slower.

Joelle: Be picky about your advertising... don't just be a big ol' whore. Can I say whore? :-) Less is more. And don't be afraid to ask the advertiser if they can provide customized advertising to compliment your design. You'll never know if you don't ask.

Kathy: If you're serious about incorporating ads on your site, consider having someone design a template that incorporates designated space for advertising with standard ad-sizes and premium positioning in mind. Someone meaning us, of course. Just kidding. Not really.
After looking at your online portfolios I can't wait to see the templates you come up with for your new Wordpress and Blogger template project, FemmePlates! What can we expect?
Kathy: You can expect fun, chick-centric, ready-to-wear templates that can be easily implemented on an existing blog installation.

Joelle: We're hoping to cater to the various demands for female-authored blogs with designs for the single girl, the career minded, the super moms, the crafty bunch, the cosmopolitan, bridal, baby and more... you know, the whole ovary oeuvre.
Three blogs you think are gorgeous even though you didn't design them?
HostessBlog.com - it's clean, pretty, fresh and has lots of advertising that's not an impediment to the content.

DesignSpongeOnline.com - It's unique, it's got texture, it's a bit three-dimensional without being overdone.

This one isn't a blog, technically, but it's got a lot of blog elements to the design. We stumbled across it today and think it's just lovely. DarasGarden.com

Want to win a copy of Kathy and Joelle's book? Kathy's throwing in a cocktail shaker, too! To enter this giveaway, just Join the BlogCoach Community if you haven't already and leave a comment on the "Giveaways" board (it's right at the top) by next Tuesday.

Read more BlogCoach blogger interviews.

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