New Design Is Finally Complete

If you haven’t noticed by now, particularly those who are reading this from your FeedReader, come check out the site in your favorite browser as I have finally put the finishing touches on the Jeffro2pt0 redesign. The problem with blogging for other people is that it leaves little time to do things to my own personal site. So, I spent two very long nights/days going through my theme and doing a complete redesign so that I could get the weight off my chest. The weight stems from looking around at other blogs and noticing they have a pretty good looking theme and when I look at mine, it just sucks. Also, I was sick and tired of worrying about doing the redesign when all I really want to do is publish content. Thats why I really put some elbow grease into the design and got it done as soon as possible so I wouldn’t have to worry about it anymore.

I have to thank David Peralty for launching his new blog design (BrandingDavid.com) which started my thinking process of redoing mine. His site has a minimal look to it, doesn’t fill the page with widgets or chichlets so that all he has to worry about is writing and publishing content. I wanted to travel the same road by eliminating things from my theme that I didn’t need and get back to basics. I’ve eliminated the featured post block as well as the container that held all of the categories I write about. This used to be displayed underneath the header.

With regards to the header image and the trees. The fact of the matter is, I love forests. I love forest photography and I love hiking through them so I figured I’d take something I love and put it on the blog so I can see it everyday. The great thing about this header image is that I have about 6 different scenic images that I can substitute the trees with. Once the first day of Winter arrives, I’ll be changing the header image to a picture of snowy mountains.

As for the color scheme, I’ve always enjoyed darker themes but I can never seem to get the link colors and content presentation down pat. This time however, I browsed through template monster and through the galleries presented at VandelayDesign.com as sources for inspiration in terms of text colors to use on a dark theme. The current design is definetly colorful but it falls right in line with my header logo. Also, the colors don’t make the site boring and in fact, the color scheme changes slightly from the home page to a single post page view.

I was going to use the comment threading feature found within WordPress 2.7 but I’ve found out that it’s current implementation sucks. I can’t style it and modify it’s look as easily as I could do with the old comments system. So, I’ve decided not to use the built in threaded comment feature or threaded comments in general. However, thanks to some code that was given to me via Kaspars (Konstruktors.com) commenter’s can now click on a reply link which works exactly like the link in the WP Comment Remix plugin except now I don’t have all of the extra baggage that the plugin provided. The code is not publicly available but with some coaxing, we might be able to convince him to release it.

Speaking of Kaspars, I really want to say thanks to him for all the help he provided to me. Thanks to him, I was able to finally get a styled, working version of his Tabbed Widgets plugin. Also thanks to his help, I’m able to configure specifically where widgets are displayed within the theme using his unreleased Context Widgets plugin. I’ll write about this in a future post but in a nutshell, it is an easier to configure version of Slayers Custom Widgets.

As for comments, I completely redesigned that area as well, thanks again to Kaspars. Ajax edit comment works and so does the comment luv plugin although you can not save the options for comment luv. There is some sort of incompatibility that the plugin author is aware of. I also installed the Quick Tags plugin to make it easier for you to style your comments if you choose to do so. Much better plugin than the Tiny MCE for comments.

There is plenty of other stuff to talk about including a post describing why threaded comments in WordPress 2.7 sucks. Stay tuned for that and more, including an updated list of plugins I’m using.

14 thoughts on “New Design Is Finally Complete

  1. Nice redesign. One weird thing…when tabbing through the fields to leave a comment, it jumps from name, then down to email address, then back up one to website, then back down two to the comments field. Not sure how to fix that, but it’s a little odd.

    Also, the CommentLuv pulled from my blog I didn’t put in the URL field…

    Again, congrats on the redesign.

  2. @Mike Perry – Hey Mike, thanks for the feedback. Yes, the action is deliberate. By using Kaspars Context Widgets plugin, I can make maximum use out of my sidebar. Instead of displaying the same 5 widgets on every single page throughout WordPress, I can now set it up so that only relevant widgets appear on certain pages.

    @Patrick D. – Thanks for the feedback Patrick. As it turns out, the fields had the wrong TabIndex value “tabindex=”” they were out of order. That issue should now be fixed. As for CommentLuv, I will have to disable the plugin until I can successfully save the plugin options. This won’t happen until proper documentation is presented in the Codex with regards to how plugins should save settings. So, consider CommentLuv Deactivated.

    @Lisa – Wow Lisa, can’t tell you how much that means to me coming from you. After all, you’re the one with the design skills, not me :)

    @Joost de Valk – Slayers Custom Widgets is an awesome plugin, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that, Kaspars solution to the problem seems more elegant and a lot more easier to configure. Look for a post on this in the near future.

    @Ajay – Hey Ajay. Thanks for pointing that out. I seem to have misplaced IE 7 on my machine. I saw what you are referring to. I’ll have to work on that in the coming days, Seems like I messed up somewhere in the CSS file or something.

  3. Hi Jeffro

    Ok! that is what I thought…

    A suggestion if I may:

    When on a blog post page, “Subscription Options” is the only widget displayed in the right hand-side column, therefore to browse additional blog posts (content) a visitor has to click “Home” or “Blog Archive” to see more…

    To open up your blog (content) a little more to visitors, I would look at adding something like one of the following:

    * Recent Posts
    * Related Posts
    * Recent Comments (as per “Blog Archive” page)

    The above is just a suggestion…

    Take care, Mike

  4. @Mike Perry – Thanks for the suggestions Mike. It will take me a little while to create and install all the widgets necessary to make effective use of the side bar. I plan on using the sidebar to display comments on the article, related posts, options to share the content etc.

    @Kevin -Hey Kevin, thanks a lot. Although I think my new banner image is spiffy, I still wonder what the logo would look like if you designed it. I’m up for seeing what you had in mind :)

  5. Although I never was a fan of dark themes this one looks great Jeff. Nice job!

    @Mike Perry – Being one that refuses to use widgets (I prefer doing things the “old-school way”) you can achieve the same result without widgets by simply creating different sidebars and calling them with IF and ELSE statements. If you already know that then my apologies. ;)

  6. @Len – Aren’t you a tough cookie? I know there are ways of hardcoding sidebars and then hardcoding widgets to only display on certain sidebars on certain pages but doing things through WordPress is like a GUI and I prefer GUI’s over editing code any day.

    BTW, thanks a lot for the compliments. One of these days, I’ll get you to call into the show.

  7. I’m in buddy. I think Whoo is still interested as well. Just give me a little advance notice as Friday is not normally a day I get home early.

  8. We developed a similar plugin a few months ago. It is available for free download here:
    http://tomuse.com/wordpress/widget-locationizer

    Here’s the current functions for the Widget Locationizer plugin:

    Display widget based on assigned TAGS
    Display widget based on assigned CATEGORIES
    Display widget based on assigned POST/PAGE ID
    Display widget EVERYWHERE
    Display widget EVERYWHERE EXCEPT X, Y, Z, ETC…
    Display widget with NOFOLLOW OR DOFOLLOW

    Hence, the plugin permits you to add fresh, interesting sidebar content and more relevant ads that can improve your advert CTR and increase your site’s sales.

    We expect to release an extended version of the Widget Locationizer plugin that adds more flexibility and should be released within the next day or so.

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