The advantage of having free blog template sets, as opposed to simply a single template, is that you're able to maintain a coherent theme to your blog while at the same time providing your readership with some visual variety. Here are some things to consider, along with some actual sources for templates.
Characteristics of Blog Templates
- Typography - the background, fonts, text colors and sizes, and even in some cases the layout of the blog can be controlled through CSS and XML.
- Images - various templates may have artistic themes, pop culture icons, sports teams, or other images integrated into the blog.
- Interactivity - elements of a blog such as a "search" feature, the ability to comment, meta tags and trackbacks for entries are all parts of a blog template that can vary or be turned on and off.
- Widgets - Separate from the database-related functions above are widgets, elements of a blog that interact with outside sources, such as Twitter or Flickr. Some templates work better than others.
You may be lucky enough to find the perfect blog template that fits your needs, but it's more likely that you'll need to go "under the hood" and tweak some elements to fit what you like. For example, the layout may be perfect, but the comments may not "thread" in the way you'd like. By finding a template that does have threaded comments, you can cut and paste that code into the template and create a sort of patchwork of features.
It's worth learning how to do that, because comparatively, changing the colors and images on a blog will be easy. And ease of use is the key to creating your free blog template sets.
Personalizing Your Templates
What goes into a personalized blog? The answer, of course, is whatever you like - it's your blog, after all. The thing that makes a template set different than just a template is that you can change the appearance of the blog without changing the focus. Readers get used to a certain pattern when reading a blog they like, and changing that layout too much can lose readership. However, they also want the content on the blog to have some variety, and adding a thematic shift at appropriate times can delight them. One of the best examples of this technique is the Google practice of changing their logo on holidays and some important birthdays.
What are some reasons to change the theme on your blog? Here are a few ideas:
- Seasonal - As the year changes, showing the weather on the screen reflecting it can be a subtle way to reinforce your blog's contemporary nature. It can be as blatant as providing pictures of snow drifts or as subtle as a shift to browns and oranges in Autumn.
- Holiday - Celebrations, whether religious, national, or personal, are a great way to individualize your blog by showing how you commemorate the date.
- Event-based - Counting down to some event? How about altering the blog so that each day the theme gets a little hotter, a little closer to boiling? Or having a background that shows a curtain gradually lifting, or a wall slowly being broken through? All of these are ways to use blog template sets to maintain the coherent branding of a blog while changing the theme.
Where to Find Free Blog Template Sets
The best thing about trying to create template sets is that it is not only easy, but free in most cases. Of course there are design companies that sell blog templates, and some are of very high quality. But with a little time spent on the following sites, you may find a better start to your blog:
- Theme Expose offers a number of beautiful template designs free to use as long as proper credit is given.
- Blogger Templates is a blog about templates. How cool is that?
- eBlog Templates is like a CNET for blog templates, including reviews, new templates, and even articles about specific features of a blog like footers.