Evolution of a web site

Creating a website has been a do it yourself project, and like any beginner, I made some horrendous mistakes. I learned quite a bit along the way, and then the trick was to put my new skill to work. Quite often, my knowledge outstripped my abilities.

I started with a 4 column theme in WordPress, and it was all: Ooh! Look! Shiny! I could have ten thousand things on the page and I wanted them all.

This is not to say that I should have had them all, and until Cindy Potts said something in a way I could hear it, they stayed. But this was too busy and hard to read. Goodness knows how many readers fled screaming.
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I should have taken a screen shot before I took the next iteration down; this is that theme after the big cleanup, and it might have worked once I organized the pages and got rid of the third column of widgets. There was a forest of tags at the top, very cluttered, and a bunch of widgets that didn’t add anything to the usefulness of the site. I’m not sure anyone ever clicked the tag cloud. Trouble was, this didn’t show the secondary and tertiary pages once I’d nested them correctly. So, onwards.

What you see here is my evolution to simple, clean, and organized. I found another theme that would show the subsidiary pages when you hover. I think you can find everything you want, but I designed it so of course I can find it. The question is, can you?

My challenge to you: explore. Punch the buttons and twist the dials. If it’s broken or just not right, leave a comment, here or where the trouble is; I can find all comments from the admin screen. There will be a PD Singer flashlight for anyone who locates a problem I can fix and improve. Excerpt pages are still under construction, but anything else, please mention. I appreciate the help!

10 responses to “Evolution of a web site

  1. I’m a web designed, or I used to be. I understand html and can steal java script with the best of them, but WP is a different kind of animal. I went with an already created layout and tweaked it with the help of a friend who knew WP far better than I did.

    I think you did a terrific job on the site! It’s clean and elegant and looks great.

    • Thanks! No kidding, WP is a different beast. Very powerful, but when a theme can override normal HTML (like when I did some tables and wanted to remove the borders) it’s a headache.

  2. Good clean look – almost too uncluttered. Maybe you haven’t unpacked all the bric-a-brac yet. I like the layout. Even without the extra column of widgets, I recognized the theme as the one I use. (My site still needs work.)

    My comments are from the perspective of an information collector and educator, not a blogger, and not much of an author (quantitatively speaking). Even so, I think the organizational concepts can apply to any type of site.

    The nested menus at the top are a tidy way to have a lot of information handy. When I click on Home, it is, as expected, highlighted in black. Strange thing – “About Me” is also highlighted. It doesn’t happen on the other tabs. It makes me wonder which page I’m on.

    Since Home is not the main blog, it might be confusing where to go for the latest news. You might be able to change the tab to Welcome since people expect the news and/or blog on the Home page. On the right, “Recent Posts” might be better as “Recent Blog Posts” since you have other sorts of information posted.

    I’d want the tags list, just not front and center. The theme offers all sorts of places to put it. (Don’t bother checking what I did – nothing so far.)

    The separate links page works for moving clutter off the main page, but the authors part is overwhelmingly large. It might be worth having a separate Author links tab. That way, you can put other goodies on the Links page. I’d separate Reviews from assorted fun stuff. That’s of course if you want people to know what’s on the site before clicking it. I’ve been adding descriptions, either in the link name or the mouse-over description, if the name isn’t self-explanatory. (I see I missed a few of mine.)

    I prefer links opening on a separate page. I can’t think of any reason I wouldn’t want that other than to avoid having to close them later. Losing my place on the site I’m browsing is more inconvenient for me.

    An adult warning is usually a good idea, at least on pages containing sex. WordPress doesn’t have the warning page option, so I tacked on my own warning. I should move or copy mine to the template so it appears on all the pages. You could do it either way. Considering the nature of your content, I think the affected pages option would work — less distracting for pages not needing it.

    I liked your more personal mountain image as the header – many m/m authors people have a generic male couple. I love the photo you have now, but it’s not really “you”. Maybe figure out a way to do both. There are places on the page to add more photos.

    Now that I’ve woken up that part of my brain, I want to work on my site, but I have my real life web editing projects to do first.

    Best wishes for getting it all together!

    • Thanks! The extra highlighted tag on “About Me” was an artifact of trying not to have two headers for one page in the old theme. It’s fixed now. That page is titled Welcome but it’s still showing as Home, which may be hardwired into the theme. I can’t touch the CSS.

      Anything on the Links page is in a table, which is a royal pain to mess with. I’ll need an evening of hard drinking to steel myself to touching it. Who’s got the Jack?

      The header on the blog posts has been retitled, I didn’t know I could do that. 😀

      (Fixed the redirect) Email your addy, I’ll send you the swag!

  3. Your hard work really paid off!

  4. I like the clean and uncluttered look. I especially appreciate that nothing’s flashing. 🙂

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