A brand-new site

One thing you can always count on is change—especially online. Realism’s given way to flat design (at least this week), mobile devices are taking over as many users’ preferred means of visiting the Interwebs… Aside from making some of these poor decisions, about the worst thing a site owner can do is stick with a design too long.

For two and a half years, this site was running with 8Bit’s Standard Theme, and it’s been the preferred template of choice for many who’ve been striving for simplicity online. So, when 8Bit closed up shop last summer, it motivated me to do something I knew I needed to do eventually: start looking at a new design.

After several months of looking around, trying out a few ideas quietly in the background, I launched the new blog design this weekend. Here are a few of the most significant changes:

1. A greater focus on content.

Over time, one of my frustrations with the previous look is content struggled to remain at the forefront. The header was too large (again, a sign of the times). The navigation was clunky. The sidebar was increasingly overwhelming.

With the new site, the navigation and the sidebar have been streamlined fairly significantly, and the header takes up a minimal amount of space (at least when you’re reading on a desktop or laptop). The new look gives the most important feature the site—the content—the space it needs. This, I trust you’ll agree, is a very good thing.

2. A truly responsive layout.

This is, by far, the most mobile friendly version of the site to-date, which is important considering roughly half of you are reading this on your tablet or phone. So, if you’re reading this on your mobile device right now, I hope you’re enjoying it!

3. A trustworthy vendor.

As much as I would have loved to do this, there was no way I’d have been able to afford to hire a developer to design this site from the ground up.1 While a developer may be out of reach, StudioPress is not.

StudioPress’ Genesis Framework offers (nearly) all the tools a site owner could want, their suite of child themes2 are beautiful and functional.

Now, that being said, here are a few things I’m continuing to look at changing or adding in the future:

1. Advertising.

Advertising, at this point, has become a legitimate need for me. Currently, I keep a couple of ads in the sidebar, as well as one in the RSS feed. In the future, I’ll be revisiting how advertising works, which may include sponsored content.

2. A better book review page and other custom tweaks.

While I couldn’t afford a fully customized design, as finances allow, I’m hoping to add a few custom elements that will be beneficial to readers. One thing that’s top of mind: improving the book review page’s presentation a little nicer (although this probably isn’t something I’ll need a developer for, but you never know).

So that’s all there is to it, for now at least. Your feedback on the new look is greatly encouraged, whether it’s a compliment, an idea to improve functionality, a feature you want to see added, or to let me know something’s broken. Looking forward to your thoughts!

Show 2 footnotes

  1. I make enough money from advertising and affiliate links to keep the site running and pay for improvements like this, in case you’re curious.
  2. To borrow their analogy, think of WordPress as a car’s engine, the Genesis framework (primary theme) as the body, and the child theme—in this case Sixteen Nine Pro—as the paint job.

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  • David Murray

    Well done Aaron. Definite improvement. I’m working on a re-design too so it was good to see how you’ve done certain things. Thanks for all you put into your blog.

    • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

      Thanks very much, David. Looking forward to seeing the revamp of your blog! See you at T4G, I hope?

  • NateClaiborne

    Was it difficult making the transition? Standard being unsupported makes me uneasy, plus I’ve gotten bored with the look.

    • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

      The transition was very easy. Took me all of a couple hours to get things set up the way I wanted them. Most of my angst was finding the right theme.

      • NateClaiborne

        That’s good to hear, and I think ultimately that’s probably where most of my angst will lie as well!