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To redesign or not redesign? That is my question to you…

This is an open question to readers of wpliving: should I or should I not redesign wpliving?

Let me first explain why I'm contemplating a site redesign. There are two specific reasons.

  • 1. I'm not happy with the navigation bar with this current theme. It doesn't give me much room to play with and the drop down menu functionality added by the theme developers as a post-release update isn't as elegant and functional as I would like it to be.
  • 2. Connected to this, I want a theme that does a better job of highlighting past content without having to add on too many plugins and hacks, whether it's through related content at the end of posts, through an elegant category and tag solution in the sidebar, footer or even header of the theme, and through a dedicated archives template.

I've realised after several months of using the current theme (which on all other fronts is fantastic I should say) access to past content is a big deal. This is simply due to the fact that I've developed a fairly decent backlog of content and I'm now at the stage where I want to bring some of it back to the surface as it were.

I don't have a huge budget for this and I'm certainly not in a position to commission a bespoke design, so I wanted to open this up to readers of this blog to see what you think. Perhaps you think changes aren't necessary. Or if you do, perhaps you might have suggestions of a suitable theme that I could modify.

I'm hoping that any response I get might benefit other people in a similar position. So this is a sort of “experiment” if you like.

Thank you in advance for any feedback you can offer. As always, all opinions are welcome.

Written by Will Ellington

Originally from the UK, I currently live in Osaka, Japan, where I work in higher education. I’ve been a WordPress user since 2004 and have developed numerous projects with it over the years. Wpliving is a place to share things i've learnt along the way, and to explore innovations in WordPress too.

9 Comments

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  1. I do find my self clicking on article links that appear right below a post on other sites, a lot. I do like the current design evaluated in isolation, I don’t think it really accentuates the voice your material brings as much as it could be. I found the previous design a bit more personal in that respect. What’s unique about this site is that you offer a kind of Alan Watts like commentary on the WordPress ecosystem. It goes in-depth and you make observations that bring out details most people haven’t really thought about in quite the same way. I have to say, I don’t really know what a theme that really compliments your material would look like, but I do think the current design could be improved in that respect.

    • Thanks Peter for the frank feedback, it’s very helpful to get outside opinions on this. Thanks also for your kind words about the videos. I think I’m going to look for a theme that does a better job of centering on video. I like writing, but for some reason with this blog, I just like doing videos. So if the cap fits…

    • Hi Chris. First off, let me say that I love what you’re doing over at Badget Web Design. For anyone interested in the Sans WordPress theme (the theme currently in use here), you can see a great example of it on Chris’ website: http://www.badgettwebdesign.com

      I’ve had some more feedback from users via Twitter and email and very similar points to Peter’s comment above. Even the lead designer of the Sans theme suggested looking for a new theme! So I’m going to give it a try.

      • Thanks Will for the compliment!

        I totally understand. I always look around at potential new themes for my site too. My biggest complaint about sans (and many other themes for that matter) is a lack of a landing page template.

        As a web marketer and as a web designer type, I think WordPress itself should create the post type or the theme developer should. You’ll notice studio press and others like brag themes create options for this out of the box: http://bragthemes.com/demo/simpleleads/

        Best of luck on the new theme search.

        I’m looking forward to see what you choose.

  2. Well I think your older theme was superior.

    Have you run this new one through Pingdom Tools or Google’s Wedsite Speed Test? It performs poorly and you have lots of bloat that slows this theme down on Tablets and Phones. Plus typography was superior – by far – on your previous Sans theme.

    I think this current theme seems very dated and old – kinda like WordPress of 2005ish era.

    Themeforest has so many incredible choices for you that it seems strange you picked this one.

    All that being said I love your blog and it is great you help and share your info with so many people.

    Happy holidays!

    • Hi James, I really appreciate the candid feedback on the site. The load times you mention are worrying indeed. I just ran a check on Pingdom Tools and scored a 73% overall performance grade with an average of 3.3 seconds load time. Clearly that would be much longer on tablets and phones given bandwidth and connection speeds. I’ll therefore look into pairing the site down. On the aesthetic front, that’s more tricky given the highly subjective nature of taste in general. That being said, I do know what you mean about the “2005ish” feel.

      Do you have a particular theme in mind that you might have opted for? If so, please do share it here. I’d be interested to take a look.

      Thanks again for your constructive criticism.

      • Have you considered something from Frogsthemes (the new Artifex) – all your excellent videos you produce (love them) would look great on the front page – you should highlight your talent and original content you create.

        Slate from mikemcalister on themeforest also comes to mind – better typography, faster loading, better on tablets etc.

        Or something from Themefoundry or Themetrust maybe.

        Not the end of the world – just my opinion (maybe worthless).

        Again your videos are GREAT – thanks for sharing!

        – James

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