Graduates In Wonderland Blog Design

A tale of a blog design –

Last fall, one of my oldest friends from childhood, Jessica, sent me an advanced copy of her forthcoming book, Graduates in Wonderland. It’s the true story of her post-college adventures in Beijing and beyond while she searches for love and the story about her college friend Rachel who is in New York and Paris, trying to find her own way through life.

The book is an epistolary memoir – the format is letters between Jessica and Rachel – it’s very personal, brutally honest and also really funny. (Sidenote: I make a small appearance in the book when Jessica comes home to Texas). I loved the book and when I came to the end of it, I realized that I wanted to know more of their story.

GraduatesinWonderland_Authors_photos copy

Rachel and Jessica, co-authors


What happens next? The book ended but their stories go on.

Wyatt and Co. came up with the idea to create a blog for the book. Jessica wanted the website to be personal and funny (the same tone of the book), but also to be helpful to recent graduates who are also struggling to find their way in the world.

She wanted it to also look a little bit like the book, but for the blog to have its own distinct brand.

Most author websites are just sites to promote the book — they are static with a blurb about the book and an author photo, but I wanted to showcase more of Jessica and Rachel’s amazing writing (they write for sites like The Hairpin and The Toast). I decided to play off the theme of the title “Graduates in Wonderland” and the book cover.

The cover is like the modern day wreckage of a tea party for adults: overturned tea cups, colorful half-eaten macaroons, broken dishes and a huge teapot. I thought the font was particularly great and wanted to incorporate it into the website (especially that Victorian-style W). From there, we tried a few tea party images for the banner, but in the end, we decided to keep it simple. I found an image of a spilling teacup that looked great with the swirly font.

Graduates_FINAL cover

the cover


As for content, Jessica and I discussed that she wanted to have various sections on her website, not just a simple rolling blog. I asked her what sorts of things she would write about and she said it would be funny advice pieces, silly adventures she and Rachel have in London (they both live there now), travel stories and graduate advice. We decided to have five distinct categories, but within these categories, we had drop-down menus.

For example, on her travel category, a person could hover over the category and see the options for different places (China, France, Australia, the US and everywhere else). I came up with a template, sent it over to Jessica, and after a few tweaks with font and color, she was really happy with it. I added in a Most Viewed section to highlight the most popular posts (with photos on the side to entice readers).

We also added buttons so readers could easily share posts on Facebook and Twitter. I also thought that with this kind of book and blog, readers probably want to get involved. I pitched the idea of having the Graduates Instagram – readers can take their own photos of their versions of being out in the real world (Wonderland), tag it with #gradsinwonderland, and they would appear on the website (changing with each refreshed page).

Jessica and Rachel could post their adventures there and their readers could share with them, too. We named it Grad-stagram. And voila! Graduates in Wonderland is up and running! Take a look at it – here’s a preview:


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Oh, and the book is out now – be sure to grab a copy!