WordPress Theme Design

I’ve got two big custom-WordPress-template projects ahead of me. One is spec work for a potential client and the other is my own (this) site.

Over the past week I’ve “graduated” to the level where I feel pretty confident modifying a WordPress theme, tweaking various PHP commands to display certain information, etc.

I’m working on two projects. The first is some spec work on a web site “migration” to WordPress. I think after another 10 hours of work I’ll have a tempting enough sample of the end product to get the client to sign on. (And if not, I’ll have learned a lot.) This is really pretty easy because I’m trying to reproduce the original site’s look almost exactly. It’s just a matter of replacing embedded tables with CSS2.1 & div tags—not nearly as hard as I thought it would be—and inserting the proper content-generation PHP tags. It’s kinda cool because I’m more or less starting from scratch… and it’s working.

New Site Design Doodles

The second project is going to be the entire reworking of my own website. I just I don’t know how long this is going to take. Within a day or two I’ll do a proper break-up of the project into bite-sized components so I have a better feel for how long it’ll take to get there. There are some design elements I’m shamelessly going to rip off from No One’s Listening but I’m going to try to keep a lot of originality.

One thing I want to do is to increase the visibility of my main “static” sections of the site like the Cooking and Writing sections. They’ve huddled on the sidebar in small print for too long. (I’ll also have to go through and clean out the content gathering dust in those dark corners.) Essentially I want to de-prioritize the blog from the “overwhelmingly dominant” part of my site to “just a very big part”.

Another challenge is going to be to decide which way-too-trendy design elements I want to avoid, and which ones I think I can use without coming across as just another clone. Spadzoot wrote a hilarious satire on trendy modern web designs that included a couple nods my way. (One is obvious, the other is so obscure you would never guess.) One of the things I’m seeing is the obsession with brilliant graphic images of super-close-ups of abstract objects like this…

Silly example of arbitary graphics

Of course I’m going to use graphics, but I’ll try not to copy the trend quite so much. I’ve already installed one new plugin to make things interesting. You see, I’ve got my own quotes page. It’s not huge, but I’ve collected quotes since my college years, back when it was sort of “the thing to do” among computer geeks. (Anyone remember the old “finger” command?) Anyway, instead of hiding these quotes away in an obscure page nobody is going to visit, I’ll have them is some subtle-yet-visible portion of my homepage. In order to test the plugin, I tweaked things so a random quote is displayed at the bottom of my current pages. (Take a look!)

Author: Murray Todd Williams

I live in Austin, Texas. I'm enthusiastic about food, wine, programming (especially Scala), tennis and politics. I've worked for Accenture for over 12 years where I'm a Product Manager for suite of analytical business applications.

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