On Blog Redesign Ponderings

Over the past week and a half I’ve been working on coding a new WordPress theme.

I mentioned, within the past month, that I’ve felt an “itch to code.” I last changed my blog’s theme the first week of August, 2010; I haven’t typically run with a consistent “look” for that length of time.

That’s not what’s driving my new theme, however.

Quite simply, my blog has outgrown my server. When my current hosting plan is up in June, the website will move to a server with more space.

Since I have to move the site, I also think that would be a good time to overhaul how things are done. This blog has been a going concern since June 2002, and what I thought the website would be nine years ago is not how the website actually developed, especially when I moved it from Greymatter to WordPress in 2004. As the years have gone by, not only have I learned better ways of doing things under the hood, but WordPress itself has changed under the hood. Things that I thought would be useful, like the master tag cloud or this LiveJournal-styled archive calendar have proved to be nothing of the sort.

The prospect of moving the site has forced me to think about rebuilding my website from the ground up. I’m also planning on using capabilities that have been introduced into the WordPress core in the past few years that I’ve either ignored because I was satisfied with what worked (like the pre-WordPress 2.7 comments.php), I saw no reason to integrate it into the site (like post thumbnails), or I didn’t see the point (like child themes).

My thinking begins from this — What kind of website does a writer need? What best balances the need to promote one’s self/work with the social online component?

Some writers split these two things. As an example, Star Trek novelist Chris Bennett has a site to promote his work, which is wholly separate from his blog. Not only do I think that can be confusing for the user, it also walls off the information that a reader might be interested in.

What I want to be achieve is an integration of the two spheres that is seamless to the user. For a casual reader, curious about the work, the information would be there, while for the dedicated reader, who is curious about what’s going on inside Allyn’s head, they get the fuller experience.

Basically, then, this idea of mine would use WordPress both as a CMS and as a blogging platform. My present site utilizes some of the ideas that I have in mind, but that’s more by accident than design, though some of the ideas, like turning blog posts into static CMS pages, will have application.

What I want to do is embrace the possibilities and build something that is more than just a blog.

Thus, I’ve been experimenting with code. I think that what I want to achieve is feasible, and I’ve learned recently some tricks to make some of what I want work, like calling a WordPress loop using the category name of a post instead of its index number.

Yes, I realize that sentence likely makes no sense to anyone reading this other than me.

I don’t have a projected completion date for this, other than early June. I suspect I’ll be done long before then, though. 🙂

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