This week I decided to give my site a makeover… My previous site had several very cool elements, but overall it wasn’t focused on what I wanted to focus on: providing you a clean & readable format for what’s on my mind. Too many sidebars, too much navigation, and not enough reading room.
Well, that’s all changed with this new theme. I’ve thought quite a bit about how I want readers to engage with me and my posts, and this is the outcome. I can also attest to several key influences during this re-design, including the super-barebones homepage of Jason Schuller, and the clean barebones WordPress framework Wordplate (which this site is built upon) by Nathan Staines.
Where’s The Sidebar Love?
I actually spent quite a bit of time considering the pro’s and con’s of sidebars. For commercial sites, I think there’s no doubt that sidebars are essential. Your customer’s experience is critical. For my personal site, however, I decided to forego the typical sidebar’d environment in favor of a clean aesthetic that allows the content to stand on its own. I’ve moved most navigation in the footer – with the expectation being that if a visitor has cruised through an article, they may want to find more.
“Feature-Driven” WP Theme Wars
The last couple commercial projects that I’ve worked have been derived from really nicely built responsive themes. One notable example is SANGEvents which I did as a derivation of the SmartStart Theme found on ThemeForest. This time around, I decided to use a barebones theme rather than a parent / child one. I couldn’t find a parent theme that was simple enough for what I wanted to accomplish here. I did build in some very basic responsive capabilities too; just to make the site scale better on mobile…
I think one of the issues that’s come up is that end-users are buying themes based on feature-count, not on attractiveness or correct balance for their needs. Searching the major theme shops – it feels like a cold-war of feature sales: dozens of settings, built-in icon sets, numerous page templates, hundreds of short codes, page after page of options, etc. Though certainly the themes that are available to consumers today are gorgeous; I think it’s also made it that much harder for casual consumers to find a theme that is clean, uncluttered, easy to maintain – and puts the focus on the blog content and the user experience rather than on a feature-fest.
More to Come
I’m certainly not done here. I don’t really know anyone who’s done with a theme that they’ve put together. I want to restore the gallery system I had deployed on my previous theme; but do so in a way that flows better. I’m also working on a new template file that will display my resume, portfolio, and other “about me” data in a way that is useful and engaging within this page flow.
Thanks for reading! If you have an opinion on the new site design – please let me know! I’m eager to hear your thoughts. Thanks for visiting.