Blogger Tricks Animal Jam Graphic Central!: Part 3 of 5: Choosing a Theme & Customizing It

Monday, July 6, 2015

Part 3 of 5: Choosing a Theme & Customizing It

Hello jammers! Panda here again, continuing on with the blogging series: How to Build An Epic Animal Jam Blog From Scratch

Today (in Part 3 of 5) we will be discussing how to choose your blog theme, how to customize it and how to add gadgets and top navigation pages

Here's a brief overview of the series: (click on Part 1 - Part 2 to view the existing posts in this series)

Part 3: Choosing a Theme & Customizing It

Part 4: The Foundation of a Successful Blog & How to Get Viewers + Followers

Part 5: Final Tips to Building + Maintaining a Successful Animal Jam Blog

Let's get started!

To choose a new template/theme, go to the Template tab in the side menu:

Once on the Template page, you will see a picture of your existing blog design, and (below that) a grid/list of all of the available templates. You can download a more advanced template later (from a different website) but for now, let's just use the default Blogger templates to create your new blog look.

You can keep the theme that you selected when we first created your blog, or you can select a new one.

After your theme is selected, you can click the orange Customize button to make some more advanced, stylish changes to your blog's appearance! 

A type of black lightbox will now appear above your existing template/blog:

TO CUSTOMIZE YOUR BACKGROUND: Click on the Background link in the sidebar. There should be an image of your current background image. Click the small grey arrow next to your background image, and a new menu of Blogger's provided background images will appear. You can pick any of these, or you can upload your own by clicking Upload Image above the categories of backgrounds on the left. Click the orange Done button when you have chosen your background image. You can find some awesome Animal Jam backgrounds for your blog or desktop screensaver by clicking here.

TO ADJUST THE WIDTHS: Click on the Adjust Widths link in the sidebar. There should be two or three sliders: one for the width of your entire blog and one or two for your sidebar(s). You can adjust these widths by moving the sliders or by typing a width into the box. (Tip: If you have a text widget, make sure that the width of your sidebar allows your words to be all on the same line, with no words beginning on one line and continuing on the next. It often looks odd, and is better if avoided.) I recommend making your sidebar(s) 300-400 pixels wide; most gadgets are around that width.

TO CUSTOMIZE YOUR LAYOUT: Click on the Layout link in the sidebar. There should be two headings: Body Layout and Footer Layout. While choosing a layout, take into consideration: how many sidebars you want, where you want your sidebars to be, how many columns you want in your footer and how complex you want your sidebar to be. I personally would recommend that you shy away from a sidebar with more than one column in it; it is often confusing and cluttered-looking to your viewer. On AJGC, I chose to have one full column on each side of the blog, and a footer with two columns.

TO CUSTOMIZE YOUR FONTS, LINKS, COLORS & MORE: Click on the Advanced link in the sidebar. This is where you can customize the font of your body text, post titles, gadget titles, tabs and blog title, as well as the colors of your links, body text, gadget titles, post titles, tab text and tab background, date headers, blog title and header, outer and post background. Just about everything can be customized here. It may be tempting to use super bright and fun colors, but I suggest opening up your background image in PicMonkey or Photoshop and using the eyedropper tool to grab some hex codes directly from your background image. This way, the colors you use in your design will be coordinated with your background. This leads to a more cohesive and clean design that pleases the eye. For your body text color, I recommend using a dark gray, as dark gray is easy to read, but softer on the eyes than a pure black. On AJGC I use the hex code: #585858 for my body text.

Click the Apply to Blog button when you are all done. Wow... you just customized your entire blog

Now, onto the layout of your blog. In this section, we will discuss how to add gadgets (and some gadgets that you probably should have) as well as how to add top navigation pages (a question that I get asked a lot). 

Go to Layout in the side menu:

Then, right below your header, click on the Add gadget button and scroll down until you see a Pages gadget. Select the pages you want in your top navigation and... voila! You have a lovely top navigation!

You can also add some more gadgets to your blog to make it more user-friendly!


Stay tuned to this series to learn about the foundation of a successful Animal Jam blog. To be notified immediately when the Part 4 of this series is published, follow AJGC using the Followers widget in the right sidebar.

I hope this was helpful for all of you who are starting a blog! I look forward to seeing your new, beautified blogs at the end of this series!



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Happy commenting!