in my opinion, one of the essential elements of a blog (or any website) is the design of it. it should be aesthetically pleasing, easy to navigate, and reflective of the writer(s). much like personal appearance, the design of your blog can give your reader an inside peek into who you are and what you like. 

think about it: store websites like anthropologie and j crew reflect their brand beautifully. j crew's website design is classic, even down to the colors, or lack thereof. while on the other hand, anthro's is a bit more whimsical and intriguing, but still easy to navigate. although different, they each allow the customer to have an online shopping experience similar to one they have in-stores. 

much like that, your blog design should reflect you. if you love the color green, include it somewhere in your design. if you have a thing for glitter, show off some glitter. shoot, if you love cats, have a cat somewhere (that just gave me a great idea...) but, no matter what, make sure that your design is true to who you are and what you write about, because it's the first thing that people will notice when they go to your website.

my blog design has changed hands a couple times since blogging. my first official design was done by a graphic artist i found on etsy, and looked like this:

i loved this one, but eventually wanted a change and something that was a bit more me. i worked with michele, of diesel & juice and she gave me a beautiful custom design that i was mildly obsessed with. but, as with everything else, i was eventually ready for a change and wanted to try my hand at doing my own design. thanks to photoshop elements, many hours, many google searches, and a few other helpful bloggers, my current design was put together. it's not perfect, but it's perfect for me. and the best part is that i can change any elements about it whenever i want/need to, which was why it was so important to me to do it myself. and it saved a couple bucks, too. 

so, you say "that's great, but i don't have photoshop and i don't know the first thing about HTML code or any design elements". i hear ya, trust me. for those of you that have learned HTML code, i salute you. i know enough to navigate a simple design, but definitely don't know it like the pros do.

here's a few resources for you if you're looking to get a blog design:
- the cutest blog on the block: free blogger templates and blog elements
- etsy: there are tons of graphic designers and pre-made templates
- royal daughter designs: amanda is currently advertising with me and makes beautiful blog designs/elements
- yours truly designs: chelsea is another advertiser that makes beautiful designs
- google. no, seriously. i can't tell you how many times i googled things like "how do i make my own header in blogger", "how do i move the date header", "how do i add custom tabs", "how do i keep asking so many questions"...oh, wait. not that last one.
- your blogger template. there's a lot you can do without even loading a design. go to "template", "customize", and manipulate any of the elements. you can change colors, fonts, width, layout, date, etc. if you're afraid to do it on your own blog, create a "test" blog and mess around with it on there until you find something you want on your blog.

if you know of any other resources or designers, please leave a comment so that others can know about it, too :)