Note: I’m sorry this post is so long, but there were so many things I wanted to mention.
Wow, who would’ve guessed this? My latest redesign, on the best domain I could ever have (a dot com!), hosted by a wonderful reseller, with the full functionality of WordPress and the great Plugins it can have. I’m going to talk about a lot of aspects of this new design, including choices, reasons why I like new features, and so on.
A feature none of my previous redesigns ever had, but one this design soon needed. My online life has expanded far and wide, and I’ve always seen my website as a place to collect all of that and make it easily accessible. Because of this, my website needed more pages, and I decided that the best way to organize it all would be through very simple drop down menus. To suit the design, I just had to make sure the first level was minimal. From there, I decided I could go as deep and wide as was necessary.
WordPress – the entire backend
The more pages I made, the more I realised they were getting harder and harder to update. So, I finally decided to set up the entire site as a WordPress blog, rather than just the.. well, blog. Not only does this mean information across the board will be updated more frequently, but now the URLs for all these new menus are simpler and cleaner.
The Plugins and Pages
The beauty of a CMS like WordPress is that there is an extended collection of plugins that can expand how I can use it. Because of this, many pages now rely on Plugins to display and update content, usually automatically.
Plugin – Widgets
On my older designs, because WordPress only powered one area, the Blog itself, I was able to always have multiple widgets in the sidebar because every page would have quite a bit of information. However, because widgets are now on every page, I’ve had to grab a plugin called ‘Dynamic Widgets’ to manage what/how many widgets show up on each page. You’ll notice many pages with an extra sidebar widget that suits what the page is about, so always keep an eye on that area.
Page + Plugin – MiniBlog/Tumblr
Quite a few people have asked me if I’m on Tumblr. The short answer is yes. The longer answer is yes, but I don’t use it the same way so many others do. I see Tumblr as the kind of Social network that fits in the tight gap between Twitter and a proper blog. With Twitter, you’re limited to 140 characters, less if you want to share a link, but a blog is usually suited for large things, like this post. So I will be using Tumblr as a sort of sharing system, and thanks to the Plugin ‘WP Tumblr’ I’m able to display the posts on a WordPress page.
Page – Me – My Applications
Wakoopa is a great social network surrounding usage of different applications, and is a nice way to see what your usage habits are. That is why, as I always have, I’ve embedded different widgets for the site to show a nice overview of what programs I frequently use.
Page – Me – My Music
You would not believe how hard it was to get this page exactly how I wanted it. Last.FM is a beautiful social network that basically keeps track of your musical listening habits. Some people tend to judge others by their music taste, so making information about my terribly random musical taste had to be shared in a simple way. Originally I was hoping to only have to use one Plugin, preferably with it’s own generated page, but that was impossible. I spent well over an hour going through the three pages of available WordPress Plugins with the tag ‘last.fm,’ playing around with shortcodes and PHP, and eventually had to settle for ‘Last.FM Records’ (which powers the display of my top four albums) and ‘My social network page’ (which beautifully lays out my 20 or so most recent tracks). Along with these WordPress Plugins, I went through Last.FM’s own ‘Apps’ section to also display more information, and eventually settled with the ‘Artist Cloud’ you see in the sidebar (of the My Music page, of course).
Page – Me – My Games
This page was a fairly interesting one to make more detailed. Originally, it was just a few tables with titles of games I own. However, it showed no personality. And so, using the functionality of the gaming social networks Raptr, Xfire and Steam, I’ve been able to create a (so far minimal) page with (a bit of) information about my gaming habits. Of course, I’ve never been a ‘hardcore’ gamer, so not a lot of my gaming has been recorded anywhere. However, so as to start filling in this page, I will start recording my gameplay on both PC and Xbox 360 (I’d also record Windows Phone if I could, but I don’t play much on there anyway).
Page – Creations – Chrome Extensions
Originally I had this section as a separate website, but because I couldn’t think of a design that would suit, I merged it into my personal site. Here you’ll find Google Chrome Extensions I’ve recently developed. Before you ask, I would upload them to the Web Store if I could, but I can’t. I’ve posted the reason on the page itself, so check there for the full answer instead. Each download will be redirected via a simple PHP script, and automatic updates (as well as the .crx files themselves) will be stored on Dropbox, which I can access from anyway, and if need be, modify.
Page + Plugin – Creations – Games
This wonderfully laid out Created Games section is where I can show off games I’ve made over the years in Game Maker. Along with the powerful ‘WordPress Download Monitor’ this very clean page is able to store the file, description and screenshot for each game in an easy to use menu. This way, I can also keep track of how many times each file is downloaded.
Page + Plugin – Archive
It wasn’t easy trying to find the plugin that would suit my needs in this situation. Finally I settled with ‘WP Photo Album Plus,’ which allows for multiple photo albums on one page, with a nice grid of images. Once you click on an image, that one album becomes a kind of ‘feature’ area, where you get more details on the image you’ve clicked on.
Plugin – WordPress Mobile Pack
Here’s something I’m excited about. With this release, I now have a nice mobile site that can be found at m.wizardcm.com, which makes my life a whole lot easier. I only know of one ‘mobile reader,’ but he’s always made sure I had some sort of mobile solution, and because many people these days use mobile devices to browse the web anyway, I have made browsing my website even easier.
Plugin – Widget Twitter VJCK
This is one lovely widget I’ve had comments about already. All it does is grab my latest tweets and displays them in the sidebar, but in a way that suits the rest of the design and adds a sort of live-feel to it. ‘Twitter VJCK’ is highly customizable, and that is why I chose it.
Plugin – Disqus Comment System
I’ve recently grown to like Disqus (pronounced Discuss, apparently), because it means you have one account over multiple websites, and you can even check all your recent comments and likes. That is why I decided to include the ‘Disqus Comment System’ plugin, along with it’s built-in Akismet functionality.
Plugin – Theme My Login
A Plugin I could never live without, ‘Theme My Login’ replaces the inconsistent WordPress login pages and makes the login screen have the same theme as the rest of the website, simple as that.
Plugin – SEO Ultimate
Managing the title of every page, and Meta data for search engines, was proving to be very hard to manage. That’s why I finally remembered to grab ‘SEO Ultimate,’ which makes it extremely easy to set all the Meta information of every page and post.
Plugin – StatPress Reloaded
A Plugin that I’ve used for a while to keep track of visits to my blog, ‘StatPress Reloaded’ displays all the recent page views, unique visitors and even spiders in an easy to read graph. What more do I need to say?
Plugin – Google XML Sitemaps
I couldn’t trust every search engine to correctly scan my site, so I set up ‘Google XML Sitemaps’ in the way that suited my needs. Google has already crawled the site (it actually crawled it within a day or so of me setting this site up, how cool is that?) so it’s easier to get here than ever before.
Along with all the pages and plugins I’ve set up (seriously, my admin centre is FULL of stuff), there are a couple other things I wanted to mention.
I originally introduced this to my blog many months ago, and combined with the fact that I don’t have a job, and that I like to buy things, I decided that having 1 very minimal advertisement per page couldn’t hurt. If you have an ad blocker, I would greatly appreciate if you could white-list my site.
Thanks to WordPress, I now have an easy-to-use full-site search. Play around with it, who knows what you might find…
If you bothered to read the whole thing, I’m extremely surprised, and very happy. It means either my writing isn’t as horrible as I make it out to be, or I’m doing something else correctly. Either way, thank you for reading, and I hope you take some time to take a look around.
Lastly, I just wanted to mention why I made this design at the end of 2011. As I mentioned on the homepage, 2012 will be a very full year, and my last at school. Many pages were designed to update automatically, and that is so I don’t have to spend time updating information throughout the year. This also means I will update many social networks, like GoodReads and Miso, so that I don’t completely disappear from the face of the internet.