No, you are not dreaming! There is a new design and color palette as of December 21. I took most of the day Monday to get everything changed over to the TweakMe v2 theme and officially made the new look open to the public around mid-afternoon.
How Got Ready for My New Look
Step 1. Bought the TweakMe v2 theme from Nosegraze. You won’t regret it. If you click on this link, I’ll get a bit of compensation as I’m a Nosegraze affiliate.
Step 2. Created a testing directory.
Using cPanel, I created a directory called test in my public_html directory.
Step 3. Created subdomain.
Using cPanel, I created a subdomain called test and pointed it to the test directory I just created.
Step 4. Installed WordPress at the subdomain.
Via cPanel, I accessed Softalicious to do a secondary installation of WordPress.
Step 5. Exported a month’s worth of posts from my live site and imported them into my test site.
I opted not to export my entire site. One of the goals of this site redesign was to figure out exactly what plug-ins I needed and would continue using with the redesigned site.
Step 6. Imported the posts into my test site.
Step 7. Installed the TweakMe v2 theme at my test site.
Step 8. Started messing with the TweakMe v2 settings.
Step 9. Shared the test site with a few trusted friends to get their opinions and made the changes that made sense.
Step 10. Finalized the design and made buttons and social media images to match.
Step 11. Rolled out the new design on the live site!
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Tweet: Learned something #new at @2ndRunReviews. Check out Behind the Curtain! http://ctt.ec/UBbS_+ #blogging
What I Wanted to Keep
- I love my dark color scheme. I know the in thing right now is lighter and brighter, but honestly, it stresses my bad eyes. This is especially noticeable when a lightweight font is paired with a solid white background (#000000).
- I love my header. I paid for that image from Shutterstock and I’m going to get my money’s worth from it. It’s not going anywhere.
- I love my primary font, Special Elite. When I think of writing, I think of old typewriters click clacking away. It fits with the idea that I’m not always reading and writing about the latest and greatest hits. (Although typewriters are back in fashion again.)
- I love that my header is an image map. It gives me freedom to put other items in my sidebar and menus because I have key links appearing there.
What I Wanted to Change
- The width of my site. I was starting to feel boxed in with my Behind the Curtain and In the Spotlight features which are often text heavy.
- My secondary font. If my site was going to be wider, I wanted to find a font complementary to Special Elite that would be easy to read.
- I basically googled “What fonts go well with Special Elite,” and landed on Merriweather. It was easy to read on an off white background.
- Did you know that if you review the Google fonts on Google, they give suggestions on the Pairings tab? Check it out.
- Add at least one accent color. I loved the gray, but wanted to add another color (or two) that would draw the eye to key areas.
- In the end, I decided to move away from the monotone color scheme. I stuck with the original colors of my header image and added blue as an accent color. Thanks to my sister and my friend, Erin, for giving me the push. My sister said the orange made her think of reading a book by a fireplace.
- Feature my Features better. In the Spotlight and Scenic Sundays are my babies and I wanted everyone who visits the site to know these are key posts.
- There are large buttons in my header image and a section on Center Stage (home page) to bring attention to these features. I also added a bit of a description of each of these post types on my Features page.
- Get the MailChimp Subscribe Box on the Same Line as the Email Box. A little annoyance that has been bothering me for ages.
- I didn’t really accomplish this because I don’t know enough about responsive design. I did learn that you can strip out most of the styling tags in the Super Slim Embedded form to give you a bit more flexiblity.
Fun Stuff I Figured Out
- Make sure to have the Hook enabled in the TweakMe v2 if you actually want your code to work.
- There is amazing stuff hidden in WordPress’s Screen Options. And it can be different in every screen!
- I used the Menu #2 in the TweakMe v2 theme for my Social Media Icons and wanted to have them open in a different window and be tagged. Both of these options are available under Screen Options when you set up your Menus.
- Using the Display Widget plugin and the Recent Posts Extended Widget plugin, I have greater control on my side bars and footers. Here are some examples (these links should open new pages).
- 2016 #ShelfLove Challenge. Check out the sidebar—quick and easy access to the monthly link ups!
- A Book Review. Upcoming Reviews, Recent Reviews, Events & Challenges and Giveaways in the sidebar.
- In the Spotlight post. Easy access to Events & Challenges, Giveaways and a complete list of past In the Spotlight participants in the sidebar. In the footer, quick access to the most recent In the Spotlight posts and giveaways.
- Behind the Curtain (this post). Access to the most recent Behind the Curtain posts and giveaways in the footer.
Resources I Used
- Fixing the MailChimp Coding
- 10 More Great Google Font Combinations You Can Copy
- Paletton. Play with color combinations!
- WordPress Maintenance Mode plugin.
- Display Widget plugin.
- Recent Posts Extended Widget plugin.
- Redirection plugin. I deleted some of my review indexes in favor of the Ultimate Book Blogger Sortable index.
- Scroll Back to the Top plugin.
- Canva.com. I used this site to create most of my new images including my header.
- And of course, none of this would be possible without the TweakMe v2 theme from Nosegraze.
My WordPress Site Design…in a Nutshell
Yes, I took about a month to roll out the new design. Is that necessary? No, not really, but I work full time, it’s the holiday season and I was sick. So yes, it took me nearly a month. But I’m happy I took the time. The time allowed me to mess around with the color scheme more and find something way different from the monotone colors I have had for two years.
I’m thankful for the WordPress gals I know and for my sister. The new site would not be possible without their help and advice. And don’t worry, this is just an overview post, there are sure to be more Behind the Curtain posts because I learned a lot in the last month.
So what do you think of the new look? If you’ve gone through a site redesign, what did you learn from the process?