Notes on the WPLiving redesign

Dude, where have you been?

So it’s been a long, long time since I updated this blog. What can I say? If you’re a returning visitor, thank you so much for your support. If you’re new here, welcome and enjoy the site.

If you’ve ever blogged before, you’ll know how difficult it is to keep things rolling when you’ve got jobs, family and other affairs going on at the same time.

A few years back I relocated with my partner from the UK to Osaka, Japan where I currently live and work. I teach in a local university here and I’m involved in a range of cultural projects that leave little time for anything else. Perhaps I’ll make another post later on about life in Japan if anyone’s interested…

In any case it’s funny, because despite the pressure and time involved in maintaining these commitments, I always seem to come back to WordPress. I use it in creative projects. I sometimes teach people at work how to use it. And I follow some of the key people in the WordPress community to keep up with new developments.

I’ve said it before on this blog, and I’ll say it again now, I really do have a passion for WordPress. I’ve sometimes even thought about making a 180 degree turn and devoting my career to writing about WordPress. But that’s a risk I’m in no financial position to take right now.

The future of WPLiving

So what’s happening with this site? Well, I don’t want to give it up, I’m sure about that. Hence the redesign.

For quite some time, I’ve been wanting to push this site beyond a simple blog into a resource hub. WordPress obviously has the capacity to function as a content management system, and I want to mobilise that potential and make this site into a repository of the best bits of WordPress.

I want to continue to review useful themes and plugins. I want to continue highlighting valuable members of the WordPress community. But I also want to start building a collection of free and downloadable WordPress related content. This would include themes and plugins, but also resources related to blogging and video creation.

So what’s stopping me? The main barrier to creating a resource hub is accessibility. It’s about building a site that allows you to a) see what’s on offer in a blink of an eye and b) access all the site’s content at a click of a button.

That’s why I chose the TownPress theme.

The TownPress Theme

What I like most about this theme is that it is truly modular. I’ll do a separate video review of the theme to show you how the admin side works and how flexible it is in terms of dragging and dropping elements into a page.

The TownPress theme was, as its name indicates, developed as a sort of town hall or tourism portal website. It was built around widgets. That means it’s ideal in terms of organising data into small sets and displaying it in an accessible and comprhensive way.

I’m still working on the front page of WPLiving, but one of the key features is going to be the “Choose Your Interest” section that you see up top. That will become a simple table of links to the main resources across the site. Below that is the blog content and then all around in the footer and sidebars will be small collections of content.

I’m also keen to continue the “Ask Me Anything About WordPress” page. Fortunately, this theme comes with a nice little widget that’s perfect for running a Q&A type system.

So, yeah, this is still a work in progress, but I feel this redesign is finally going in the direction I want for the site.

I’d love to hear what you think. What works. What doesn’t work. If you have any feedback at all, please feel free to leave a comment and I’ll be happy to talk. Also, if you have suggestions for resources that you’d like to see on the site let me know. Thanks again for your support.

Introducing Leeflets – a Publishing App by WordPress Gurus

It’s not often that I’m blown away by a new application or piece of software, but after signing up to Leeflets as a beta tester, I’m pumped. Actually, it reminds me a bit of 2004 and my first steps with an early WordPress.

So what is Leeflets? Well that’s kind of the whole point of my video, so please go check that out first and then come back for the links and extra info below. Make sure you grab a drink while you watch, this is a 16-minuter! Sometimes these things just take time. (more…)