It took a lot longer than planned and changed from being just a new WordPress theme to being a much more fundamental re-structuring of the whole site.
I’d been thinking about this for quite a while and knew that I didn’t just want a new look, but wanted to break the website down into three main sections to allow people to follow areas individually if they so wanted.
Subscribe as you like
The first thing I’d noticed is that my posts tended to be split, broadly, into Journal posts and Technology posts. I know for example that my family, and probably a lot of my friends, aren’t too interested in the technology stuff and so I wanted to make it easy for someone to subscribe to just one or the other.
So the important thing was to make it easy for people to follow the site how they wanted, and catching the news they wanted. These two main categories have been joined by a third “Photoblog” category as I’m being far more proactive with my photo-taking this year.
You can now subscribe to these categories through RSS feeds (such as Google Reader), or via email. New posts from the category you wish to follow will be delivered to your inbox.
I plan to follow this up with some updates for following posts via Twitter, Facebook or Google+, but let’s take it one step at a time. You can get email subscriptions for my Journal, Technology posts, Photoblog, or the whole lot.
Categories vs Tags
I also noticed that I was using categories in what felt to me the wrong way. Essentially I was using categories in a way I could use tags. I had so many categories on the site and many of them only had one or two posts in them – not a useful way to browse the site at all.
On top of that, my usage of tags to group similar posts was all over the place. I had over 1,500 tags in use on the site, the majority of which only applied to one post – again not very useful for browsing posts on a similar topic.
I used the WordPress plugin “Categories to Tags convertor” to first make sure that all my posts were tagged with the old categories to which they belonged. Then began a painfully slow process of going through my tags and consolidating. A few tools helped me speed this up, mainly Term Management Tools, although at the end of the day it was still quite laborious.
By the end of it, I reduced the number of tags from the aforementioned 1,500+ to 63! The intention is now that these tags will provide a common grouping for posts on a similar topic. Tags are shown at the top of each post and if you’d like to see more posts about a particular tag, just click to view those posts.
It’s all fairly basic stuff, but I’d let it slip over the years, and it needed to be reined in.
Sadly I also encountered a major issue, one which I never resolved either. For some reason in the movement from live site -> development site -> live site, all my images got messed up. It’s a long and complicated story and has something to do with my serialised data in my MySQL database getting messed up. I think.
If you’re interested in reading more about this, there are two threads over on the WordPress support forums: Image Sizes Lost and Major issue with image sizes being lost, only full size images being shown. It’s scintillating reading I promise you.
In the end, sadly, I couldn’t work out a way to fix it. Just couldn’t get my head around the issue. So I just got a list of all posts containing featured images and galleries and manually went through the list and re-uploaded the images. It’s all working now and no longer are featured images showing up as their full resolution (which looks very very bad). I had to edit over 100 posts. That was not fun.
That’s a quick round-up of the new website. I hope you like it. Feedback welcomed in the comments. Also note that if you like the post you can share it out on Google+, Twitter or Facebook, or add it to Evernote using the toolbar at the top of the page.