I’m loud!  I’m a BIG personality! And I love color. Walking in to my house you can see this (even before you hear it!) Furniture is loud. Artwork is big. And color oozes off my walls (though this is the first house I haven’t painted from top to bottom because of the poor lighting!) You could suss out my personality by walking in to my classroom too: Loud! Big! Color!

In my past life I had to reign in this exuberance for BIG! While I was birthing babies and raising them to their preschool years, I made a little dosh as a designer. Making my clients’ dream wedding invitation, birth announcement, or event program forced me to walk a fine line between what I knew looked good and what the client wanted. (At left is a sample of my LOUD and latest work. My son’s birthday invitation.)

Though I continue to make invitation, program, and t-shirt designs on the side, my teaching job doesn’t afford me too much time to “clean up the CRAP!” But with this week’s COETAIL topic, I had to make time. So that’s just what I’ve done (literally and figuratively). I’ve cleaned up the CRAP in my classroom (literally), in my mind (figuratively), and on my COETAIL blog (literally and figuratively). Instead of being a mashup of loud, vibrant, and helter-skelter chaos, I’ve decided to rebrand myself following the laws of CRAP: Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, and Proximity.

OriginalHere’s what I started with. The background of post-it notes was obnoxious. The previous posts weren’t aligned (see how there aren’t 4 posts on the 2nd line?). And the blog (and individual posts) was breaking a number of CRAP rules.

CONTRAST: If you have ever read my blogs before, you know I’m pretty good with the simplest forms of contrast! I use bold, italicized, and colorful contrasted words to support my emphatic prose. When used with an editing eye, these contrast techniques can enhance the readability of the text rather than look like a 5th grade student’s wiki from 2006 or this shocker.

REPETITION: In design, repetition is key! Headings needs to be uniform. Captions need to be uniform. Fonts need to be uniform. You get my drift. If these things aren’t uniform, the viewer can feel disjointed. I have decided that I will follow this law by creating a color system for my blog posts: Headers and links in blue (#40b7b7) while standouts or sub-headers will be in orange (#ff9900).

ALIGNMENT: To maintain alignment for my readers, I will continue using the Magazino theme. I appreciate the picture and rollover-text snippet. The theme supports my boisterous tendencies  but with specific changes made in the settings, I’ve standardized only 8 posts per page which will follow a linear vertical alignment that is pleasing to the reader.

PROXIMITY: This is one that I often struggle with when posting a blog. When I’m designing using Photoshop or even Microsoft Word (and utilizing the “Tight” wrap), I have full control of where my image goes. I can move it exactly where I want it to the precise pixel. But, when using WordPress or Blogger, I struggle to get my text wrapping in just the right way to honor the Proximity law.

With my week of exploration, inquiry, and reflection behind me, I’m leaving my blog NEARLY the way I created it. I have standardized my theme in colors and alignment. I am using the guidance of Paper Leaf’s Principal of Design Quick-Reference Poster as my guide (download your own cheat-sheet here!)

I’ve decluttered and removed the noisy background from my site. At the bottom, I’ve organized my footer by using 4 different widgets so readers can search, read the latest blog posts, check out my topic cloud, or connect with me via social media.

It may be a work in progress… but I certainly feel as though I’ve cleaned up the CRAP a bit!