If anyone needs me, I’ll be staring at my awesome new blog design

August 31, 2013 | 98 comments

The new look! It’s here! If you’re reading this on a feed reader, click through to see it. (Ha, ha. Just a little dry humor there. If you follow me on a feed reader, you’re not seeing this at all and you thought that I quietly shut down my blog weeks ago, since having an RSS feed doesn’t appear to be part of God’s plan for my life.)

John Flynn, the best web designer in the galaxy, has been working all summer on this new look. I told him I wanted something that was simple, light, and fun. I secretly suspected that I might have requested the impossible when I wrote that I hoped for a design that was “minimalist” but also “has a distinctive style, ” but he made it happen. It’s that kind of thing that makes him the best designer in the galaxy. (Evidently he inherited some kind of gene for artistic awesomeness. Have you read his dad’s books? They’re great.)

I note for the record that it was originally John’s idea to have a picture of me in the header. When I wrote the design specs I didn’t say, “An integral part of the design should be MY OWN HEAD. I want to see lots of it, right at the top of the page.” However, he pointed out that readers like to know immediately whom they’re hearing from, and I noticed that I like it when other bloggers incorporate pictures of themselves to the design.

What pushed me over the edge, though, is that I keep seeing incoming links to my site in social media and forums that say, “Check out this post – but BE WARNED, it’s a CATHOLIC SITE.” Like, I come across something like that at least once a week. People share my blog posts to their friends the way you might talk to someone about a lovely swimming hole that happens to be infested with crocodiles — you want to let them know about a couple of the nice spots, but can’t recommend that they stay for more than a quick dip because of the man-eating beasts.

So I thought it might help to allow people to “meet” me right away. I found a picture that Joe took with my phone the last time we were at El Monumento, which I thought made me look not entirely like a crazed Catholic fundamentalist — or, at the very least, conveyed a vibe of, I put the FUN in ‘crazed Catholic fundamentalist’! So I told John to go ahead and use it.


Anyway, I’m thrilled to have a fresh new design. What do you think? (John Flynn is going to enter the witness protection program if I request any more changes, so go ahead and tell me you like it.)

Happy three-day weekend!


  1. Will

    I like it! Even if it is on a Catholic Blog.

  2. Kaitlin @ More Like Mary

    It looks awesome! I wouldn’t change a thing!

  3. Francine

    I love it! The font choice, coffee stains, all!

  4. Jess

    I loved that restaurant!

    The new site design is wonderful, very clean and readable. Great pic of you too. πŸ™‚

  5. Simcha Fisher

    Gorgeous, perfect! I love it.

  6. Angela Sealana

    Another fine job by the fabulous John Flynn!!

  7. nancyo

    Love it – light! bright! airy! Who knew Catholics were this much fun?

  8. Rosie

    On a slightly-unrelated note, I read you on a feed reader and it normally takes a while for posts to show up, but this actually showed up right away! So maybe new design = end of RSS woes?

    • nancyo

      actually, your site shows up in my reader (The Old Reader) also.

    • Elizabeth

      Your feed shows up in my reader as well. I don’t think I’ve missed any posts and I haven’t noticed a delay in delivery. For what it’s worth, I use a private feed reader that my brother built when Google Reader went away, but I’m not technical enough to know if that makes any difference whatsoever.

    • Renee

      I use Veen Feed Reader on Microsoft Surface and never had issues with the feed either.

  9. Laura

    Looks great! And you definitely put the FUN in crazed Catholic fundamentalist! Do you have a link to your writing at NCR? That’s the one thing I looked for but couldn’t find.

  10. Rosemary A.

    Great look, and easy to read. I’d say it’s a keeper!

  11. Megan Marie

    It works on Feedly! I don’t know about other feed readers but Feedly doesn’t seem to be affected. Love the new design by the way!!

    • Jamie

      I follow on feedly too and no issues what so ever! Nice new design!

  12. Rebecca

    Looks great! Also, I follow you on Feedly and have never (to my knowledge) missed a post.

  13. Claire C

    Love the new design. Your photo is friendly and welcoming, in addition to being pretty. Great job!!

  14. SABR Matt

    Well you must understand, Mrs. Fulwiler, that all Catholics are terrifying creatures to be avoided at all costs unless they happen to write something funny…but only for that funny thing should you be remotely near their site or you might catch the evil. πŸ™‚ (/sarcasm)

    Love the new look. You keep doing what you’re doing. πŸ™‚

  15. Christine

    Looking good! I saw you on my feed reader briefly and then you went away ! FYI πŸ™‚

  16. Jose

    but where are the scorpions? πŸ˜‰
    Great design, kudos to your design guy and you have a great weekend as well!

  17. Meika

    Yup, my reader is working, too. And believe me – I’d notice. I think I use Feedly on my laptop and Newsify on my phone.

  18. Sarah

    I love it!

  19. Emily Davis

    I love it.
    It’s nice and bright and easy to read and comfy!
    Great job designer guy.
    Hugs Jen, Have a happy HOT weekend.
    Is there anything else here in Texas?


  20. Amy

    I like it!

  21. Becky Bowers-Greene

    Love it. Nice, fresh look. I am hopeful someday I can take the time, money, and brain power to develop and switch up my blog site too. You’ve inspired me, though, that it’s never too late to make changes.

  22. Sharon

    The site is awesome! I really like the fresh, simplified look! As far as John Flynn’s father, yes, I do know of him and I have his book, 7 Secrets of the Eucharist. Coincidentally, I came across books by a Vince Flynn who was a fiction author, and I had been trying to find out if they were the same person. I can see now that they are not, but they have a devotion to the Catholic faith in common. Vince Flynn wrote several best-selling thrillers after beginning his career by self-publishing. Unfortunately I learned that he died of cancer just this past June. He was only in his 40’s. I’m sure a quick prayer for his soul would be appreciated, which is why I bothered to write about this side matter. πŸ™‚ Congrats on the new website!

  23. Kendra

    Hey! All I see on my iPad is “Conversion Diary by Jennifer Fulwiler” no picture, no coffe stains! I, um, like your font choice though!

    • Kendra

      Okay, I can see the graphics on the home computer. But not on the iPad. Very cute. Excellent coffee stain.

  24. TheReluctantWidow

    This is great! Very clean, easy on the eyes, not too busy. I have a hard time with visual clutter today, which you can imagine as a mother of four children, who does not enjoy cleaning, can be a bit stressful. I appreciate uncluttered blogs. Enjoy your new design!

  25. Hayden

    The new design is delightful!

  26. Sarah

    Hahaha I’m one of those who might refer your blog to someone with some kind of “but she’s Catholic” addendum! In all fairness, I feel like every time I do a 7 quick takes, I should also start with a disclaimer that I’m not Catholic–I mean, I don’t want to mislead πŸ˜‰ I think my foot in both worlds stems from attending college at St. Mary’s in San Antonio. I was (heavily) involved in campus ministry, for heaven’s sake. I should just convert already…;-p

    • Catherine

      I agree ~ you should convert! Come on in, Sarah, the water’s warm and we’d love to have you! Besides, there are no 7′ tall Gators or…..(gasp!) Scorpions in the water or out! πŸ˜€

    • jen

      I’m not Catholic (I’m a Lutheran pastor’s wife) but it doesn’t matter. Take part and link on up!

  27. richard

    Minimalist indeed.

  28. Ana

    In the words of the beloved Outkast, it is ‘so fresh and so clean clean’! I love it!

    Also, my husband demanded that I tell you that he has been reading your posts through his reader, feedly, and it works just fine. Also, mine is working fine, but he really wanted me to let you know that his is working.

  29. Casey @ My Love Is Too Little

    Nice new look! I really like the brown and purple font colors, it’s a nice change from standard black. πŸ™‚

  30. Katrina

    Love it!!

    And I get your posts via RSS in mail, so there seems to be no issue there anymore!

  31. lehall

    I like the blog design. The Bright purple and pink munstrual cup ad is a bit distracting, but the actual site design is right on. I read your blog through feedly, and as far as I know I have not missed anything in a long while.

  32. Marcy K.

    I LOVE it! It’s beautiful. And I love the picture you are using. It is so cute and I think much better than your last one that you had professionally taken. This is much more relaxed and pretty and I love your hair. Can’t wait to poke around – even if it IS a CATHOLIC site πŸ™‚

    • Marcy K.

      Jen, I just found this this evening and thought of you! I know you would appreciate it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBOxs9RCstI The part you should see is at 7:07. πŸ™‚

  33. Julie

    I love it! Clean and crisp, even with the coffee stains. It seems like the appropriate level of playful. πŸ™‚ And also – I frequently experienced a delay loading your page with its old design. This one popped up right away!

  34. Katherine

    Love it. Wonderful job!! πŸ™‚

  35. Kira

    Wait…you’re CATHOLIC? Why didn’t someone WARN ME?

  36. sheila moller

    Yes!!!! Love your newdesign.

  37. Kellie

    Best Conversion Diary look yet! Two thumbs up.

  38. Susan

    Love the new design! But there is a quirk that is driving me crazy. The page seems to be “blinking” at me? I’m not sure how else to describe it. It’s as though the screen goes blank for a quarter of a second and then comes back to normal. Like a flash on a camera except it goes darker instead of brighter? I’m reading this on the bloglovin frame and the frame at the top and the menu bar isn’t doing this, just your page so I’m guessing that my computer is fine…

    Other than the irritating “blinking”, the new design is great!

  39. Lynne

    Oh you definitely put the “fun” in crazed Catholic fundamentalist, and also the “mental”! Which is why it is so perfect that you mention “Gumby” and “gansta rap” and “Houston rodeo” and “clotting” and “coding” all in one succinct intro!

    I love your new picture and the overall look, but mostly I love that each page loads instantly. For some reason, the other format always came up very dark and unreadable for a few moments before finally snapping-to.

  40. Melody

    I love it – it looks awesome! (…for a Catholic blog ;).)

  41. elizabethe

    I love it!

    I’m not sure if I’m disappointed or relieved that there is not a scorpion prominently pictured, though.

    I’m going to go with relieved.

    But look, sorry to put John in Witness Protection, but you should definitely ad one of those computer code thingys that will make a scorpion image crawl across any posts about scorpions (you know how you can have snow falling or bugs — this is a thing right? I use the internet, I’ve seen this before!).


    I will personally mail you a crisp 20 dollar bill to offset the cost of making that happen.

  42. MamaH

    AWWWW YEAH!! Jen, I absolutely LOVE this new look you got goin on! I love the brightness, the lightness, and the great photo of you at the top. A huge change from the earlier design! And that coffee stain up in the corner?? That’s so perfect. Yeah – light, bright, fun, imperfect perfection:)And the Blog Intro is really funny. I mean, how do you even make a blood clotting disorder sound so hilarious?! I don’t know, but you did it, lady!! High fives:)

  43. Dorian Speed

    This is terrific! It’s funny how you come to associate a person with her blog design and then you see a new version and think, ‘no, THIS is you!” It’s very welcoming and informal. John’s a major hero of my web design world and he’s created something perfect for you. Congratulations!

  44. Catherine

    Love to see you right on top of the Nav Bar, Jennifer! πŸ˜€ I have but one suggestion…… I really think that YAYA is her own category! Do you know what I mean? She’s good under “On A Lighter Note”, with the “Scorpions”; but really, I think she deserves her own Category, Button, Section…..I know you will get my drift! LOL! Congrats on the clean & refreshing new design! πŸ˜‰

    • Bonnie

      I was thinking the same thing about Yaya. You don’t want your occasional visitors to miss that delightfully eccentric character!

  45. Micaela @ California to Korea

    I love it! So simple and fresh! I love the photo, too. Casual enough to be inviting, and you look beautiful. Yay for the new design!

  46. Bonnie

    I really do like it, and I’m not just saying that to be nice. I like the simpler look and the font appears easier to read, and I like that there are more entries to be seen per screen page. I like that I don’t have to scroll so much to go to prior posts that I may be looking for, or to see if there are posts I’ve missed. Also, the photo at the top of the page is very inviting and friendly looking. You look normal.
    Sorry being a Catholic makes you a pariah in some circles, but someday the stigma will die off and go away, because all lies eventually die off and go away. Anyway, it’s the least we can suffer for the One who suffered so much for us. God bless.

  47. Eva

    Well as long as you ( and everybody else!) loves it that’s the main thing! I don’t love it- I think it’s a bit soulless. It’s just….it doesn’t have any of your heart in it! But your writing is what I’m here for, after all πŸ™‚

    • Eva

      On the ipad it the sidebar ad that JUMPS out at me- its definitely the most dominant thing. It’s all white and orange and BIG BRIGHT AD. See, constructive criticism!

  48. Laura

    Love it– just one piece of (hopefully) constructive criticism. You look gorgeous in the original photo, but because your forearms are cropped out in the header, you look a bit hunched over and uncomfortable. It think it would be so cute to see your forearms propped up on the nav. bar (would provide better balance), but maybe that is just my artistic neuroticism coming through…

    • Jennifer

      I was just about to leave the exact same comment. Other than that, it looks great!

    • Melissa H-K

      Me, too, but I didn’t want to comment twice. Because that’s just obnoxious.

    • Summer

      I really like the photo of you at the table, too. My first thought was great new design, so clean and crisp. Then, I’d love to see you with your arms propped on the bar. So cute. I’ll keep reading no matter what. πŸ™‚

    • Monika

      I fourth the suggestion to show your forearms as in the original shot πŸ™‚

  49. Katarina

    I read your blog on feedly and all post are comming! The new blog design is awasome!

  50. Joy @ Caspara

    Looks so awesome!!! That periwinkle/ purple color is so flattering on you too!! Great pic!

  51. Monica Benninghoff

    Love the simplicity, the muted colors. PERFECT! John did indeed “hit it out of the park!” Enjoy your Labor Day weekend, too.

  52. Genevieve

    Hi Jen,
    I am an avid reader of this blog, I have learnt so much here! However, can you PLEASE consider changing your main photo to one where you are not so hunched over?
    Thank you,

  53. Misty

    Beautiful clean look and beautiful photo of you too! Well done. (Rock on all Catholic blogs!)

  54. tanya

    I really like you too much not to say, that I don’t like the photo without the background. You on white isn’t working for me. It looks too eager. I’m sorry! The snapshot, is LOVELY. And feels much more relaxed. Hard to believe they’re the same shot.
    (also, I cannot see the boxes next to Name and Mail – email would be better here – to enter my info)

  55. Melissa H-K

    I like it! It just needs one last thing to make people know that they have landed on a dangerous Catholic website: scorpions doing Gregorian chant. Just use a midi file so that everybody will know it isn’t real monks but electronic bugs. C’mon, don’t you love it when you pull up a new website and all of a sudden your computer is singing at you? Especially with obviously fake instruments? Yes. Of course you do.

    • Linebyline

      No, it needs a YouTube video in a sidebar that starts playing automatically. Preferably one that starts with some lout music, a loud “SWOOSH-flying-logo” sound effect, or someone screaming the name of the video series. Either put it way down the page, or add a delay so it doesn’t start playing until the viewer has scrolled it out of view. For added fun, use some JavaScript to automatically select the loudest and most obnoxious videos when someone is viewing the blog between 11 PM and 5 AM. (I recommend doing this client-side so you don’t have to worry about time zones.)

      You could split the difference by making a YouTube video *about* chanting scorpions. Ooh, now I want to see a video of all the Fulwiler kids teaching scorpions to chant.

  56. TheresaEH

    nice new website eh!! To really show that you are Catholic there should be a glass of beer or wine on that table πŸ˜‰

  57. Danielle

    Actually I use Bloglovin to follow you and haven’t missed any posts in the last few weeks, including this one! πŸ™‚

  58. Erika Marie @Simplemama

    Looks great!! I love the clean and fresh look. What a neat way to use your picture, too. It makes me feel like we’re having a conversation (even though you can’t see me…). Great job!

  59. Paul H

    The new design is very nice. But honestly, I liked the old one better. I’m just not a big fan of “minimalist.” But if you have to go minimalist, this new design has a nice feel to it.

  60. Melanie B

    I love the new design. It’s so clean (except for the coffee stain, of course.) And that’s a great picture of you. And a great about me page.

  61. Cristina

    Everything looks amazing–and I love the division of your posts into serious and ridiculous πŸ™‚

  62. CHSmith

    Looks great. I like the picture of you right there by your name. The design looks light but not frivolous. The page loads quickly. Great job, John Flynn!

  63. syd

    I like it. πŸ™‚

    I’m glad that the posts are still linear down the page and not in that newspaper style that some blogs do.

    Simple and fresh! Nice job πŸ™‚

  64. Julie

    Wonderful! I think I’ll stare at it for a while too!
    God bless!

  65. Joni

    I think it looks GREAT! I love the picture of you in the header. Very nice. By the way, I’m about halfway through The Long Ships – love it! What a fun read! Thanks for the suggestion.

  66. Ellie

    I miss the original color scheme: I have vision issues that make reading black font on white backgrounds very painful, so … My heart dropped a bit to see the new design! Yours had been one of my “eye relief” pleasant blogs to visit! Ah well!!

  67. Kim

    Beautiful, fresh, inviting, and kinda hip!

    Damn, I wish I could rock red hair like you.

  68. Niki D.

    Wait…What?! This is a Catholic site?? πŸ˜›

  69. Rosemary

    The minute I open the site each time, it looks like you’re in scrubs and I wonder – did I come to some doctor’s blog? Doesn’t anyone else see this?

  70. Kathy B.

    Cute, funny and very unique – love it!

  71. JUD

    Oh my gosh, miss Fulwiler, what happened? A shocking new

    lay-out. Inclucing coffee stain and, I must say, a very pretty

    picture. I do not intend to start a flaming war, probably I

    missed one when I was camping in France without any

    e-connection. And now at my first day home alone with six

    hours of ironing left, I allow myself to read one blog, yours,

    still two weeks to back-read and I find myself stuck because,

    I am shocked by this change. I was so used to your former

    lay-out. And the worst is, I can’t remember it! The small

    column on the left is gone, your picture has changed, the

    coffee-stain wasn’t there. And somehow it screams less

    ‘catholic’. Wich may help in getting my husband to read

    some of your posts. And don’t mind me. I’ll sob above my

    ironing board. That is, after I read your blog. The tears may

    help to get rid of the wrinkles. In the laundry, of course.

    • JUD

      P.S. I wrote this post without reading any of the above. Seems that the less-in-your-face-catholic-thing works. However, I took another look of your being bent forward on the picture, since I do not want to send strange pictures to my husband. I would say you are leaning ‘towards’ your audience, more than ‘leaning forward’. Friendly, and, eh, normal. Relatable. And with the food stuff and lots of pictures added, it almost seems like a normal blog… Please keep writing (especially about the catholic stuff)and inspiring people.

  72. Brian Sullivan

    It seems you designer was up late and didn’t notice the big coffee stain he left on the template! Also, where are the scorpions? πŸ™‚

  73. Allie

    I love it! It’s so “clean” (<–See what I did there?) and less overwhelming. And on another note, I am a non-Catholic Christian and I wrote a post about exactly what you are talking about with the "but she's Catholic" thing. I linked to you in it but I don't know if you saw it. Anyway, happy blogging!

  74. Karyn

    I actually like when Catholic sites look Catholic. I liked the first Conversion Diary I used to visit, with the mission bell. This looks a little too much like a site for an inspirational speaker. Sorry Jen!

  75. r

    Like the new look, but out of preference it’d be nice to see more than one post in full without having to click through. Honestly I tend not to read stuff if I have to open the whole ‘article’ because in that split second it takes to click, someone will flood the bathroom, or paint the kitchen floors with whatever was at hand.

  76. Christine Johnson

    I like it! I’m finally on the computer *AND* remembering to actually look at your blog! (The mobile version is not nearly as exciting, sorry.)

    Funny thing is, I just redid my blog layout and chose something similar: main story at the top, older stories below. Only mine was a free template so it’s not so snazzy as this.

    Oh, and the coffee stain? LOVE that!

    And no, I didn’t nearly hashtag LOVE, why do you ask?

  77. Aileen

    Jen, I love this!! It’s cleaner and simpler and not so *busy* on the eyes. I also love the font and colors. And your picture up there at the top just makes your blog seem friendlier and cozier. Excellent job by your web designer!!

  78. Margaret @ Felice Mi Fa

    Very nice! I feel you on the “Catholic disclaimer” thing. I get a lot of “For a Catholic, you [have a great blog, seem like a lot of fun, are somewhat sane].”

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