Hello, everybody! Hey, if you’re reading this on email or in a feed reader, do me a favor and click through to my website today. Why? So you can see my brand spankin’ new website design, that’s why! Ta-da! How do you like it?
I’ve been meaning to upgrade my website design for awhile, but kept putting it off, because. . .well, frankly, I’m
cheap frugal and these things cost money. But I finally decided it was time to pull the trigger. While I liked the clean, simplistic look of my old (free) WordPress theme (and of course, my awesome Hop and Jaunt-created logo), I’d been having issues with that theme for awhile. The person who created it dropped off the face of the Earth a couple of years ago. Any time I had technical issues or questions and posted it to the so-called “support” forum, it was like shouting in a cavern and hearing nothing but my own echo. This does not exactly instill faith in a product, you know?
Once again, I turned to the creative talents of Aly from Hop and Jaunt for my website design needs. I loved the logo she created for me a couple of years ago, and wanted to keep that as well as the color scheme, so it made sense to use the same design team. And once again, she has come through in a big way. You’ll see that the entire site is now more fully integrated with the color scheme of my logo—in an expanded header, footer, post titles, and a new sidebar (check out the social media icons—cool, eh?). You can still subscribe to my blog over in the sidebar; just click on the orange RSS chicklet (to read my posts in your favorite feed reader) or the little envelope (to receive them via email).
But the most important change has to do with YOU, the reader, being able to find the information that you most want and need. The biggest drawback of my old design was my inability to change the navigation bar at the top of each page. You may recall that the old navbar listed my pages: About Me/Clips, Advertising, Contact, Links, SoloFriendly Burlington, VT, and 100+ Things to Do in Vermont.
Not exactly what all of you were looking for in a solo travel blog, eh? I know. Believe me, I know.
So if you came to my blog looking for articles about solo travel, you had to hunt for them. You’d have to go over to the sidebar and find the categories drop-down box and scroll through (what I admit were too many) categories until you found the right one. Ugh. Who wants to do that, right? It’s a hassle.
Behold my delicious new navbar:
Now the most important content is right there, at the top of each page, so you can quickly and easily find what you’re looking for. Want to read all my content on dining solo? Just click on Solo Travel and highlight the child category of Solo Dining. Looking for my thoughts on traveling solo in Paris? It’s there, under Destinations/Europe/Paris. And in case you really did love my SoloFriendly Burlington, VT and 100+ Things to Do in Vermont pages, you can now find them with all my other Vermont content under Destinations/North America/Vermont. I even cleaned up my categories substantially, because I knew you were coming to visit. That’s the kind of hostess I am.
How else can you find the best content on my site?
My new design uses a magazine layout, which allows me to post more content on the home page and on category pages, in little “teasers”containing just enough information for you to determine whether or not the post is of interest to you. These teasers look like this:
Not all of them will have thumbnails right away (or perhaps ever), because this is something I have to manually add within each post—in my case, retroactively for hundreds of posts over the past four-and-a-half years. That’s a bit of a time-suck that keeps me from producing new content. Which means I’m going to be very selective about which ones I enhance with thumbnails.
But that’s not all! Look over in the sidebar, where you’ll see a widget box with tabs for Recent Posts and Popular Posts. This is a feature I had reluctantly gotten rid of a few months ago due to a throttling problem on my host’s shared server that was causing slowdowns on my site (long story, don’t ask). I also just reinstalled one of my favorite plugins, “nrelate” which produces recommendations at the end of each post to other, similar posts. The reasoning here is that if you like the post you’re reading, you might like to see others that are like it.
As a passionate amateur photographer, I’m also excited that the new design will allow me to post slightly larger travel photos. The bigger, the better when it comes to travel porn—don’t you think?
For all I know there could be more neat features in this new theme, but I’m still finding my way around the inner workings of it. So please, feel free to poke around, then make yourselves at home and stay awhile. I’ll go get us some cold drinks and snacks.
With deep gratitude to the Hop and Jaunt team for once again helping to take my website to the next level.