2016 sees the tenth anniversary of this website. I decided that this was to be the year when I'd do some major overhaul work on my site: improved technology and a long-awaited clear out of some legacy data problems. That's all been completed, so now it's time to work on the appearance of the site.
(Update May 2016: I’ve decided to revert to using my own layout.)
If you’re reading this post on the site, you’ll see that the layout is completely different now. The re-design has been a long time coming, but the large amount of re-coding I’d have to do to complete a brand-new theme for WordPress has been putting me off. I wanted to make sure that the new site was clean, modern, and less of a mess in technical terms than the previous version.
I’ve been doing a fair amount of tidying in the original theme, which I coded in 2012 and which has been extended bit by bit ever since. Recently, I’ve been moving some of the hook- and filter-based functionality out into their own plugins, away from the presentation layer. This freed me up to think about the layout.
The team behind WordPress, the content management system which runs the site, releases a “standard” theme every year for users who have no technical knowledge. The code behind the themes is always good and pretty modern, but the layout of more recent versions has never really appealed to me. Until the latest version: Twenty Sixteen. I haven’t come across many blogs which are using it – although there must be many thousands of them – but the WordPress Bern site has been running it for a while. Each time I’ve seen it, I’ve liked it, and the draw into using it has become ever-stronger.
To get rid of the stress factor of the re-design, I opted this evening to say “the hell with it” and switch the site to this standard theme. Twenty Sixteen allows customization through Theme Options – hence my favoured green – which is enough for now. My plugins all work fine too, which is a great reassurance for the future-friendliness of the code.
Switching over to a brand-new, clean and bug-free set of code has lifted a weight off me which I hadn’t realized was even there. The knowledge of quite a few little bugs in the code was enough to be a little cloud in my mind, which proved to be quickly dispelled. A personal site should be a playground, a source of enjoyment: not an additional load.
From here, the next stage will be to implement a Child Theme to customize the appearance in ways which can’t be achieved using the Theme Options alone. This is the modular development process I adopted last year and have been working on heavily, both for technical development work and also for extending and modifying existing projects.
I’ll document the process here as I go, and add whichever code can be used publicly in some way. Amongst other functionality, I intend to add a “back to top” floating link, intelligent link targeting, and some little tweaks which are too small to bother detailing for now.