Because you asked…..My Blog Makeover Experience

May 14th, 2014 Kimberly Feature 61 Comments

14th May

Coffee and Books Caffeinated

On April 24, 2014 I unveiled our new website design at Caffeinated Book Reviewer.  Our custom WordPress design was created by Ashley @ Creative Whim. Many of you know her for her blog site Nose Graze and her cool and totally awesome WordPress plugins and pre-made themes.  We chose a custom design as opposed to one of her pre-packaged web pages and could not be happier with the end result. Since then I received emails and comments asking me to share the story of how it all came to be. So here is my blog makeover story.

Last year we moved from Blogger to WordPress and the move came with a free Elegant Theme design, but like any pre-made template you can only enhance and tweak them so much.  From the start I had a font issue. You may or may not have noticed but my posts, sidebar, quote box and footer text all had different font styles. When I did a post it would appear in two different fonts and I had to tweak each one individually. For someone like me who is made me crazy!  So from the onset I dreamed of the design and look I wanted for Caffeinated. If I saw a blog I liked , I immediately scrolled down for the theme name or designer. I read reviews, listened to blogger’s stories and imagined what I did and did not want.


The first thing I did when I moved from Blogger was buy Ashley’s Ultimate Book Blogger plugin. Which I would die without, thank you very much. I had some minor issues due to my theme and Ashley was always quick to respond. She respected me, listened and when she could not help me, she tried to steer me in the right direction. Her customer service ethics had me looking at her designs and considering them.  As the weather warmed up my itch for a new design turned into a rash. Then Ashley unveiled some unique website designs. Ones that would be sold only once and they were beautiful but not quite what I wanted. From the onset I would be tweaking a design again. That is when I made the decision to approach Ashley about a custom design. This blog is my passion, my second home, and it makes me so darn happy that I decided to invest a little and achieve the look I wanted.  It was the best decision I ever made.

The process:

  • I went to Creative Whim and filled out Ashley’s contact form and told her what I was looking for. Then I crossed my fingers she would respond. I had emailed another designer and never heard back.
  • Ashley contacted me withing the first 24 hours and had me clarify a few things. Then she told me the basic things a custom design would include and what additional options were available. We established what I wanted.
  • She then came back with a quote and time frame. Once I agreed to the terms and paid 50% up front we began the process of creating Caffeinated. You notice I said, “we” That is because over the course of the next two weeks Ashley and I exchanged 62 emails. (important! Never pay for the whole design up front. A legitimate, trust worth designer will only ask for 50% and the rest payable after design is done and installed)
  • The first thing she asked me to do was show her designs I liked and what colors I wanted. Boy was that hard. I showed her aspects I liked and didn’t like. I had an image in my mind and broke it down for her. Gads, I even used her themes as examples.  This is important. The designer needs to know what you like and don’t. If, like me you have an image in your mind..tell them. My email was long and detailed. Ashley was great, if she didn’t understand or was unsure, she didn’t guess. She responded back with, “when you said you liked..did you mean like this.” It was refreshing and she put me at complete ease.


Above is the color inspiration I gave Ashley and below is a small part of the description  I gave her of what I envisioned

“I love the wrap around header you did for your current blog design it seems to flows into post. The bird, and little girl with butterfly have a soft look that I like. I imagine my coffee cup being round with a handle, maybe a saucer with steam swirling, maybe with froth or cream sitting atop a book or maybe pieces of chocolate around it. (IDK ) I just know I don’t want it to be cold like mine. The name caffeinated book reviewer being a soft, cursive of some sort, simple and easily read. I wouldn’t mind if the search button was below image since it all feels cohesive.”


  • Then Ashley went and worked her magic. A few days later she sent me her first mock-up design. It looked like this:

Caffeinated Mock 1

  • Look at those social icons and the colors!! Oooh things were starting to come together! I did not like the coffee cup…although you will notice it was exactly like I described above. It just wasn’t warm enough. I wanted my sidebar to be boxed.  Maybe I am ADD, but my eye gets distracted and I need things defined. So we discussed what I liked and didn’t. You see those coffee beans..yeah the ones that oodles of you have told me you love. I was so not sure. Ashley came up with those..the end result..those are one of my favorite things.  When I was unsure, Ashley asked the right questions. I never felt like I was stupid or too picky. She made it very clear that we would tweak and play till I was totally in love.
  • Ashley went back to the drawling board, and this is what she came back with. Actually, she came back with 5-6 different mock ups of the font for the heading. But as you can see we were one step closer to the final design. Can you imagine how excited I was at this moment..seeing everything begin to come together..eep. It was at this point I shared with Christy @ Love of Books. I had to tell someone! I was so excited and dying to discuss things. We went over font, and talked about those beans..LOL

Caffeinated Mock 2

  • It was coming together but the sidebar and footer boxes weren’t quite right. I wanted the blog to blend to feel like one page rather then a strip down the middle with a background on either side. So Ashley tweaked the colors. She used some transparent colors and blends of the shades in our palate to achieve the look you see today. She then came back with the final look.
  • At this point Ashley went  to work building my site and adding the code!
  • She sent me a ticket to sign in to a secure server where I could play with the design. It also allowed me to see it on my mobile phone and tablet. It also made me realize that  a few functions were not a part of WordPress but a part of my old an ad box in header, contact form and slider.  Ashley was able to script those in and made them a part of  my theme.  She even fixed a slight and I mean slight alignment with the footer..that of course anal me noticed..LOL

Caffeinated Mock 3

  • Then it was time to go live. I am not gonna lie..I had no desire to try to install it myself and had Ashley do it for me.  She had me set up in no time. Then we tweaked a few minor things like the page nav widget. It was bunched-up but Ashley had it fixed in a snap. She also did a slight modification to get the related content for UBB looking just the way I wanted. She was patient and validated my concerns. Those little minor tweaks that weren’t really apart of the original design were wonderful. For example, with the new look..I hated the bloglovin’ button pictured above. Ashley whipped up a simple button that matched the design.



My thoughts on the process:

The whole experience from start to finish was such a  joy.  Ashley was a complete professional and walked me though each step. She encouraged me, listened and helped bring it all together seamlessly. When choosing a designer whether its’ for a new header or a  totally new website design it is so important to look for referrals. Find someone who is knowledgeable and will stand behind their product. I am not the only one who will sing Ashley’s praises.  She goes above and beyond to help fellow bloggers and her customer support is unbeatable. While a custom design is not for everyone, Ashley truly offers something for every budget. She has everything from pre-made themes to complete website designs.

*In case you were wondering I wrote this post because several of you emailed or commented asking about my experience. As for my endorsement of Creative Whim and Ashley Evans..that my friends comes straight from the heart.  Thank you Ashley!


Photo of kimbacaffeinate
About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. Whovian, Ravenclaw, Howler and proud Nonna. She owns and manages Caffeinated PR. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat. Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

61 Responses to “Because you asked…..My Blog Makeover Experience”

  1. Dani

    I am totally impressed with your makeover experience! Y’all made a very warm and cozy place to visit! 🙂

  2. Rachel

    LOVE your makeover – my site is still pretty young and although OCD-me would love my own designed blog with the plugin I can’t justify the cost right now, but I would even love to get this done for my sister’s Interior Design site/blog. Think Ashley is fab, haven’t used her for any purchased items as of yet but follow her blogging and coding tips religiously!! R x

  3. Michelle

    Great post Kimba! I want to do this but I need a bit more time to save up some money. This year is already looking to be quite busy for me so money will be a bit tight, but maybe next year. I’d love to have a new fresh look and the UBB plugin everyone is crazy for. You’ve spotted a few of my errors in the book info section where I forget to update it when I copy it over, lol.

  4. kara-karina

    Wow, amazing process, Kimba! Thank you for sharing it! I never had an experience like that making all my templates on my own, but I wish I could have just given someone my ideas and then step back and watch them work their magic. Beautiful work!

  5. Liza

    I moved to WP about two months ago thanks to Ashley and her Book Host. I love her Tweak Me template and her UBB plug-in is awesome! She’s a genius. I love the design 🙂

  6. Jennifer

    Ashley rocks. I’m going to re-brand and probably have her do the redesign. All after the wedding of course, but I can’t wait.

  7. Lily B

    I am hoping one day I can make a more to wordpress really want to, it looks like you had a great experience with Ashley 🙂 will have to keep her in mind.

  8. aurian

    Lovely post Kimba, thank you. And thank you Ashley, for creating such a beautiful blog for the readers to enjoy. For now, I stick with the utter simplicity of Blogger, but perhaps someday when I have to move, I need to learn how to use WordPress.

  9. Berls

    I completely agree about Ashley! I have her tweak me theme and not only is it so easy to customize, she’s always amazing about giving support on even the tiniest things. I’ve considered doing a custom design, but I don’t even know what I want enough to steer her in the right direction. I think I will play with some changes this summer, but nothing major quite yet. I love the design you decided on and thud post was so great!!

  10. Amir

    Thank you for sharing your makeover experience Kimba! I cannot live without the UBB plugin too and I’ve always loved Ashley’s designs…even the premade ones! Communication is very important between the client and designer and it looks like you two got on really well in revamping the blog, she sounds like a joy to work with! You already know how much I love your new design and this was a great behind the scenes look to the whole process 🙂

  11. Priscilla

    I plan to buy the Tweak Me Theme sometime around next month. I’m so glad you’re happy with the way everything turned out. Ashley always goes the extra mile, she’s awesome 😀

  12. Stephanie

    Ashley is a gem. I’m considering an overhaul design. I have one of her premades now. It’ll probably be several months before I’m ready but I know if I can be brave enough to do it, Ashley will absolutely be the one I chose to do it. 😉

    Your website is beautiful by the way. I love the fact that it’s soft but still colorful. 😀

  13. Lauren

    Thank you for sharing your experience with us—I absolutely love your new design and I’m so glad to hear you had such a great experience with Ashley. When I do a redesign I’m totally heading her way! 🙂

  14. Mary Havlovic

    I love your new Blog design! Ashley did an awesome job!

  15. Ashley

    Kimberly this post was amazing!! It seriously brought tears to my eyes. You’re so sweet! It was such a pleasure working with you! 🙂

  16. Franny

    Wow, as I mentioned already, your design is really beautiful, and you actually have me consider the move to wordpress!! 🙂
    I can’t afford a website domain nor Creative Whim right now, but I’ll surely get in touch with Ashley when I’m ready to go!!

  17. Victoria (aka Zemfirka)

    Really happy for you good experience and for the new, lovely look of the blog! 🙂 Thank you for sharing the details behind the makeover Kimberly. Very helpful and insightful.

  18. Faye D'Social Potato (

    Awwww, reading your journey to attain this masterpiece of a design was so fulfilling to read. I’m so jealous just from looking at it. When I get enough money to buy a customized design, I’ll definitely do it through Ashley. 😀

  19. Melissa

    It really does look amazing. I’m starting to feel that itch too…and Ashley will definitely be the person I look to for help!

  20. Kathy

    I love the new blog design! I also moved from Blogger to WordPress. I love Ashley’s UBB but I went with a different web designer. Ashley is the best! She is always so helpful when I ask her for help (being coding illiterate she is explains everything so clear!).

  21. Valeria

    I loved this!! It was very enlightening! I know some day I would like to do the same and redesign with a professional, and now, thanks to you, I know who I’ll go to; and I know I may already have said this, but I loove the new design. So perfect and beautiful and cozy. She’s a real artist!

  22. Livia

    Great choice, Ashley is awesomesauce and her work is super great! It’s a fabulous new look, the previous theme was just too white for me, like blindingly so, but the hues and all now are so awesome I don’t just wanna visit and hang around, but pretty much move in or something, lol, that’s how awesome I think it is!

    • kimbacaffeinate

      You know what is funny, my old blog actually had a grey background, but not all pc’s showed it. I discovered that when I got my new laptop.

      • Livia

        Omg, it was grey? It showed as a blinding white to me, seriously! Grey I would have loved, lol.

  23. Debbie Haupt

    Hi Kimba, the design is fabulous and how great that it was painless too.
    When the day ever comes that I can afford to customize my blog I know where to turn.
    I like the clean lines and know exactly what you mean about blogger’s inconsistencies but for my purpose and because it’s free it still works for me.
    Thanks for all the help you give to bloggers too Kimba, your knowledge and your sharing information is invaluable.

  24. Ginny

    I love the color palette you picked and it’s awesome to hear how amazing the experience of working with Ashley was. The new blog design fits you perfectly. You both did a great job. The UBB plugin is a book blogging miracle. 🙂

  25. Melissa (Books and Things)

    I love how much research you did before committing. That has to be the key in anything big you undergo. The place looks great and I loved you sharing the process. You will help a lot of people with this post!

  26. Lily

    i’m so happy you liked the end result of your blog! I’ve been debating whether or not to ask Ashley to redo mine since i tend to always love her designs i jsut have to make time to ask her lol!
    I definitely love the new look for the blog conpared to the old one 😉

  27. ShootingStarsMag

    I do like to hear blogger’s stories because it’s nice to know who they trust and what they went through. I really need a different background at some point!

  28. Lark

    I loved reading about how you and Ashley came up with the new design – which I love, by the way. Ashley’s designs are amazing! I dream of doing this someday – getting a professional design for my blog. Oh, well, one piece at a time! First I need to move to self-hosted WordPress and learn how it works.

  29. Mary

    It’s seriously gorgeous. I like that she helped you with every aspect of the design and didn’t just drop it on you. I’ve been talking about a new design for quite a while and, while I’m okay with some of that stuff, if something were to go wrong, I wouldn’t have the patience to fix it.

  30. Candace

    When I first saw the design I thought it was exactly YOU! I recently went through a design change and I’m definitely not as particular but my experience was great as well.
    One thing I want to comment about is that I know a good (awesome) designer that only accepts payment up front because she has gotten screwed time and time again. I suppose if you have a way to take back the design or make it so it doesn’t work right, then getting 50% is fine, but getting only 50% and then not getting paid the other half doesn’t work so well. So maybe there’s a way to do something because I know it could go both ways and the designer not fulfill their end of the end. I don’t know…
    For my tours I generally take payments before and during, but sometimes an author pays upfront.

  31. Braine Talk Supe

    Thanks for sharing, Kimberly! I’m planning to do a makeover but I’m a procrastinator so I’ll probably wait til I can’t stand it anymore then I’ll do it. Does she make templates for blogger and more importantly, how much does she charge for her services? She did a great job with here and 62 emails means she really wants you to be satisfied. That’s important esp since doing a design makeover via email can be challenging.

    • kimbacaffeinate

      You can see her pricing on her site it differs for each type of service. To my knowledge she does not work with Blogger. Why haven’t you moved to the dark side (self-host)

    • Braine Talk Supe

      When I had an emergency domain change, it impacted my stats so now I don’t want to make another huge change so I might move to the darkside by next year. At the same time I’m still happy with blogger so i don’t feel the need right now aside from a facelift.

      Thanks, Kimberly!

  32. Chene Sterckx

    Your new design is awesome Kimba 🙂 Gosh you have me wanting one now too.. guess I better start saving 🙂

  33. Jessica

    Again–LOVE the new design, and thanks for sharing your experience. Ashley did a wonderful job 😉

  34. kindlemom1

    So glad you got exactly what you wanted and that is was such a great experience for you Kim.

    I hope you are feeling better!!

  35. Lisa

    Wow! Amazing!! I absolutely LOVE the end product. And I love that you weren’t too shy to tweek things here and there. I’ve seen so many people decide they don’t like their design after a few months because they weren’t 100% happy with it from the beginning. Ashley is extremely talented, and I would hire her in a minute to do a redesign for me as well. Great post! I love hearing about the redesign process. And I couldn’t love your design more! It’s gorgeous!! 🙂

  36. Nick

    I’ve heard nothing but good things about Ashley as a web designer! I’m glad that you had such a lovely experience with her, Kim and of course you already know how much I adore your new design. It’s very warm and cozy.

  37. Felicia the Geeky Blogger

    It looks great! I agree that when working with a complete design you should only pay half up front and not be afraid to say what works/doesn’t work. It is a huge investment and should be something you want to stay with for awhile 🙂

  38. Melanie Simmons

    I love the design and it is great that you shared the process with others. I think it is just as important how the customer works with the designer as the designer itself. I love how you pointed out that you didn’t just hand it over and walk away. It took work on your part too. I’m glad you had great results and it shows.

  39. Sam

    Ashley sound like a great person to work with. I’m glad the whole process was so positive for you overall, Kim! It was definitely the right choice and this design is AMAZING. 🙂

  40. finley jayne

    Thanks for walking us through the process! I just made the switch to WP last week and I spent two hours yesterday trying to figure out how to change the font size/color of the pre-made theme I had chosen for my new blog (for some reason the creator though size 8, gray font would be a good idea :p ). I did figure it out, but wow, was it a pain lol. I already have my designer bookmarked, and can’t wait until I can afford my own custom theme 🙂 Love the look of your blog Kim!

  41. Jenea

    The process sounds like a pleasant experience. And the communication between the two of you is great, especially that you were able to get exactly what you wanted. Ashley does some amazing work. And your site is just gorgeous!

  42. Jeann

    Ashley is really amazing with designs and coding isn’t she? I’m glad you had such a pleasant experience with her and she really did translate your specifications really well! And the end result is amazing 🙂

  43. Pat

    Thanks for sharing your design experience. I love your color scheme especially and your entire blog looks great. I will check out Creative Whim if I ever get to the point of having a professional help me. Ashley and you did a great job.

  44. Bieke

    I’m planning on hiring her for my design in the future too! I’m still saving up for it, but I’ll get there! =) I really can’t wait! Ashley is brilliant. Love this new design Kimberly!

  45. Kathryn

    Fabulous explanation of the process. I love Ashley’s own design ( and her blog in general) and she has made such a good job on yours too. I notice though you stayed very much part of the process to obtain exactly what you wanted. I like how you say you believe it was worth the cost as your blog is like your second home.
    The side bar looks very clear and well… I just love it. At some point I want to move to WordPress and I hope to ask Ashley to make the changeover for me, and to tweak my design. I just love all the plug ins for WordPress, especially the Book plug in.

  46. Trish

    Loved reading about your experience. I know from my migration just how patient and helpful Ashley is. I love your new look so much. It was worth all those emails, your end result is fab and feels very you 🙂