Redesigning My Blog

2015-07-30 14.20.00

I’ve had a clean and simple design for my blog for a decade or more, but change has been long overdue.  I’ve been looking for a new template for a while, and I also needed a theme that would accommodate my diary and well as my blog, within the same site.

These were my main requirements:

  1. I wanted a strong visual design, that showed off the photographs that I decorate each post with, but I didn’t want the thumbnails to be too large and overpower the content
  2. I wanted a responsive design that worked well on mobile devices, large and small screens
  3. I wanted all of the views of my blog, category, search, tag etc. all to be of a consistent style
  4. Search had to be upfront and visually appealing, I’m always searching my blog, I’m it’s most frequent visitor
  5. Categories and previous posts had to be easily accessible, again this was a key requirement for me as I often browse for content this way, so I assume others do too
  6. I needed to hide posts to my diary category from the home page and from the main RSS feed
  7. My diary needed to be a fully functional section of my blog though, with it’s own RSS feed
  8. I needed to be able to publish to the blog using Windows Live Writer and Blogsy on my iPad, without any post-processing in the wordpress web app
  9. I wanted a powerful theme that I wouldn’t outgrow if my needed evolved

I finally decided on the Hueman theme and my first raw version of my blog using it is shown below:

image

Here’s more detail on how I achieved my objectives:

I wanted a strong visual design, that showed off the photographs that I decorate each post with, but I didn’t want the thumbnails to be too large and overpower the content

The Hueman theme provides a large photo for the latest post, but with smaller thumbnails for the rest, providing plenty of space for the excerpts, that it automatically creates.

I wanted a responsive design that worked well on mobile devices, large and small screens

The theme handles mobile devices, with smaller screens very nicely.  By default it shows the main body of the blog, with the sidebars easily accessible with a single click on the chevrons, as shown below.

 

2015-08-22 09.28.36

I wanted all of the views of my blog, category, search, tag etc. all to be of a consistent style

I was particularly pleased with how the theme handles this.  Clicking on a category lists the associated posts in exactly the same way as the home page, but clearly shows the category being viewed in the header.

image

Search had to be upfront and visually appealing, I’m always searching my blog, I’m it’s most frequent visitor

Search is handled in the same way as categories, and the search box is easy to find in the top right and nice and big.

image

Categories and Previous Posts had to be easily accessible, again this was a key requirement for me as I often browse for content this way, so I assume others do too

Previous posts are on the left, categories are on the right, simple.

I needed to hide posts to my diary from the home page and from the main RSS feed

I’m currently planning to write a diary post every day, which would really clutter up my blog’s home page, so they can’t show up there.  However diary posts still contain a lot of useful information so I wanted them accessible via search.  So I used a the https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-exclude-from-homepage/ plugin to remove them from the home page and from the sites main RSS feed.

My diary needed to be a fully functional section of my blog though, with it’s own RSS feed

I use the Memento app on my iPhone as my diary, it integrates tweets, Instagram photo’s and blog posts, and Moves location data into a really nice diary interface, with excellent search.  Clearly I needed my diary entries to be integrated too, so I needed an RSS feed for just the diary category.  To do this I used a code snippet that I added to the sites Functions.PHP file, as described in this post.

Today I needed to exclude a category from the main WordPress posts feed, the one you’ll find at http://mywordpresssite.com/feed/; however I didn’t want to exclude posts in that category from other feeds (especially not from that category’s feed athttp://mywordpresssite.com/excluded-category/feed/). Here’s how I set about it…

The link for the feed that includes my diary is http://steves.seasidelife.com/category/diary/feed

I needed to be able to publish to the blog using Windows Live Writer and Blogsy on my iPad, without any post-processing in the wordpress web app

There were a few things that I needed to do to achieve this, the most important one being to use a plugin to set the first image in my post to be the ‘featured’ image automatically.  I used https://wordpress.org/plugins/autoset-featured-image/ to achieve this.  I also ran a tool to add featured images to all of my old posts.

I wanted a powerful theme that I wouldn’t outgrow if my needed evolved

Just take a look at all the features, I’m using a tiny fraction of them http://alxmedia.se/themes/hueman/

I’m tapping out this post using Windows Live Writer in Caffe Nero early on Saturday morning.  It’s starting to drizzle outside so I might stay a bit longer! The photo that decorates this post shows the bench that I sat on thinking through these requirements, looking out over Windermere Lake.

Steve Richards

I'm retired from work as a business and IT strategist. now I'm travelling, hiking, cycling, swimming, reading, gardening, learning, writing this blog and generally enjoying good times with friends and family

1 Response

  1. September 17, 2015

    […] RSS feed and the home page didn’t show the diary.  I documented how I set all of this up in this post, but the bottom line is that diary posts can only be accessed in four ways, directly through […]

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