Dougal Campbell's geek ramblings

WordPress, web development, and world domination.

Time for Redesign


I’ve been threatening to do it for years, but I think it’s really time — time to redesign this site, for real. If what I have now (or will accomplish in the end) can be called ‘design’. Maybe it would be better to say ‘re-theme‘, so as to avoid ridicule from actual designers. And speaking of which, I’ll happily accept any design advice along the way!

So. Time to start over. I’m really going to do it this time. No more of this “one day…” stuff. In the next few days (by the beginning of next week), I will start with a fresh, unaltered theme, then I will customize it over time. As I go along, I’ll try to document the changes I make as much as possible (at least, as much as time and my poor memory will allow).

In any case, my Rockem-Sockem theme is getting a bit long in the tooth. It’s built on Sandbox, with a few custom tweaks, a bucket full of plugins, and a heaping handful of custom CSS. I still like Sandbox, but it’s time for me to move on (it’s not you, it’s me). There are glitches that I don’t like, but I’ve never gotten around to fixing (like how the ‘Related Posts’ section is only supposed to show up on posts, not pages; or the ugly formatting on single post views when there are no tags).

First decision: what base theme to use. I’m mainly considering three choices for my starting point: Carrington, Thematic, or a semi-from-scratch theme based on Ian Stewart’s recent theme tutorial. My current leaning is towards building a Thematic child theme. I like the ideas in Carrington a lot, but I think it’s overkill for what I want to do (I might use it on another domain of mine, though). And building a child theme on top of Thematic still means that a lot of the grunt-work is already done for me.

So, as you visit my site over the next several days and weeks, bear with me. I hope that some of you will find this an interesting experience as we see what changes I make, what decisions drive those changes, and how you, my audience, affect my decisions with your feedback. You are going to give me feedback, right? Look around — what changes do you think I should make? What’s good, and what’s bad? Think more in terms in information and functionality than in visual/graphic design, for now.

About Dougal Campbell

Dougal is a web developer, and a "Developer Emeritus" for the WordPress platform. When he's not coding PHP, Perl, CSS, JavaScript, or whatnot, he spends time with his wife, three children, a dog, and a cat in their Atlanta area home.
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11 Responses to Time for Redesign

  1. Evan Mullins says:

    I’d recommend thematic! I’ve been playing with it for a while.

  2. Milan says:

    Do you plan to open-source it or its only for your own blog?

    Btw, how did you get pubCenter ads?

    • Dougal says:

      If I do anything particularly innovative or interesting that others are curious about, I don’t have anything against making my theme available to all. So, yeah, I can open source it.

      As far as the Microsoft pubCenter ads go, I applied for the beta, and they accepted me. Their setup is slightly more complex than I remember Google Adsense being. But it seems very flexible, with built-in options for A-B tests. I’ve only had a couple of ad clicks so far, though, so it’s hard to judge anything yet.

  3. Gary says:

    I’ve tried Thematic, and I’ve had a quick look at Carrington, and while both are intelligent, I’d recommend Thesis Theme (http://bit.ly/thesiswp) above both of them. There’s a reason that Scoble, Copyblogger and elements of the UK Government (among many many others) are using customised versions of Thesis as their WP theme.
    I wish you well with the re-theme :)

  4. Lori says:

    I have used Carrington for several projects and it is really great to work with. I really like the modular way it is set up. First time I used the Carrington Blog theme, and spent almost as much time undoing the blog design as building the new one, but Carrington JAM and Text are great for building a new theme.

  5. Careful. this can get addictive, when I have redesigned my blog / site I have to stop myself from looking at it for 6 months or Ill end up redesigning it again and again over and over!

  6. Any updates about what your doing to redesign your website?

  7. Pingback: Retheme: Stage 1

  8. well… blog redisigning might be challenging. E.g. DotNetNuke based blogs are not that easy to be re-skinned. You got to dig into source code and have lots of headache dealing with it. WordPress is much better for custom skinning

  9. Good luck, its one of those things that you think will take a week and end up taking over a month. Try and make up your mind on what you want before starting to implement or it will take much longer.

  10. Pooja Rani says:

    I want to know how much time will it take for <a href=”http://www.3magicbeans.com”>designing small business website </a> from scratch? I want to add a blog to the website as well…so I need to carry out coding for the blog or should I take one from the free blogs templates available..??? Please help..

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