Redoing my website using a blog platform! (wordpress)

Hey everyone,

I'm in the process of redoing my website using Wordpress as a content management system.  Hop on over to http://www.tienchiu.com and check out what I've done so far!  I've made a lot of changes to the templates, so the front page shows an assortment of finished and incomplete works, plus some random finished pieces.  The category pages are subdivided into finished and unfinished sections, with "preview images" for each piece's section.

I still have a LONG way to go (have well over 100 pages in my "old" website, http://www.travelingtiger.com , not to mention some 1000+ blog entries!), but at least I've gotten the process started.

Over the next few days I'm going to be entering all my weaving projects into the new website, so stay tuned!  (I will work on uploading them all to Weavolution as well, of course!)

Anyway, I'd love feedback and suggestions, especially on ways to improve the graphic design.  I like the simplicity of the design but would like a bit more color, I think.  Bonus points if you can refer me to a graphic designer who can help me select styles/colors for the page!  (I can't pay, but I could trade handwoven textiles...maybe...)

Comments

Posted on Sat, 08/29/2009 - 12:48

Tien, your new website is great and has a lot of potential for growth.  I love the header with your name, and I think since it's a warm color (orange) as are most of the other pictures on the page it might help if there was some contrast in color on the page of cooler colors (like blue).  Maybe the background instead of being all white can have some color in it too, and you might want to experiment with the fonts a little more.  You might also try to move around your tabs and images to see if the page can look better, for example, if you switch the images to the left side and tabs to the right side etc.  I'm not a graphic designer but have a background in art and did my blog myself. 

You have a fascinating life and you've done so many interesting things and helped a lot of people.  I really admire that.

Eva

Posted on Sat, 08/29/2009 - 14:34

 Hi TIen:

I love the idea of using a blog for your website.  I have mine through blogspot and wonder if it too would enable me to link to other pages... as you have done.  Will it be less expensive having your website a blog?  Or do you have other reasons for switching to this format?

I just tried to see your new blog again and I get this message:

Parse error: syntax error, unexpected $end in /home/tienchiu/tienchiu.com/wp-content/themes/travelingtiger/functions.php on line 205

Perhaps you are working on it???

I really like the look of the blog!  It is clear and crisp and easy to navigate.  I do however agree with Eva that a blue -- maybe pale blue -- background instead of white would make your banner stand out even more and be more restful for your viewers eyes.  You're a work in progress, so it will be fun to check back and see how you tweek it.  Have fun!

Suzy

Posted on Sat, 08/29/2009 - 15:25

Hi Suzy, Eva,

Yes, I was working on it, which is why you got the parse error.  That one took me nearly 1/2 hour to figure out!

Good idea on the background color, I'll work on changing that today.  I haven't quite decided about having the links on the right or left side, or whether I want to keep the menu at top, since it's currently identical to the side menu.  I expect that to change again once I start adding more sections to the website. (There will be eight or nine sections total, such as fiber arts, my primary blog, my travel blog, my travel photos, my AIDS Lifecycle adventures, etc.)  I need to figure out the menu colors as well.

I don't know what Blogspot will enable you to do, but if you are hosting there, probably not enough to do a full website.  I use Wordpress (hosted on my own site, not at wordpress.com), and know that you can use their Pages function to have "static content" (pages that don't change) on your blog.  Pages are what is generally used to build a static website - I'm doing it all with Posts, but that entails quite a bit of custom code.

The main reason for switching the website to use a CMS (content management system) is that it makes managing the pages (and especially updates to the pages) a lot easier.  Instead of having to manually update every page when you make a change to the navigation (as you would with a static HTML page), you can just change the navigation bar, or - better yet - have it automatically updated for you.  For example, if I add a new Page to Wordpress, it shows up in the navigation menu automatically - no changes required!

For me, since I have a large site (100+ pages), this is a godsend.  Customizing it is a lot more complicated than doing HTML layouts, though.  I wouldn't attempt the degree of customization I've done if you aren't familiar with basic coding concepts.   (I'm not a software developer, but I have read through quite a  few books on different languages and am familiar with how development languages "think".)

For the blue background - I think what I'll do is take the blue section in the shawl (not pictured in the header) and lighten it up.  That way it will be related to the header colors, so more harmonious.

Check back in a day or so to see the updated site...!

Posted on Sat, 08/29/2009 - 16:06

ok - I changed the background to a very light purple, and moved the sidebar to the right side (good suggestion! that puts the focus on the content and  not on the sidebar), and changed the colors of the menu tabs.  What do you think?

Posted on Wed, 09/02/2009 - 16:40

It looks gorgeous!  I have 2 more suggestions:  the 3 tabs are a deep purple color, maybe try to lighten it a little, they compete too much with the beautiful orange header;  the pictures are great and the different colors work really well - how about experimenting with the size of the pictures - maybe make some even a little larger for dramatic effect, and if you want to add even more pictures you can put a bunch together thumbnail size enlarged if clicked on - just an idea.

Eva

Posted on Wed, 10/28/2009 - 13:07

Tien,

I love what youv'e done. I've been considering migrating my site over the wordpress, as I really like my blog there and the tab capabilities! I'm wondering how difficult it was for you to make the photo albums. Does Wordpress do this for you. If so could you please share where you go to do this!

Cheers,

Erica

www.thepurplelotus.org or blog.thepurplelotus.org

Posted on Wed, 10/28/2009 - 14:29

Hi Erica,

The photos were really easy - I have a plugin called NextGen Gallery that does it all for me.  As for where to go to do it - I have a Web hosting provider, Dreamhost, and I installed Wordpress there.  I think they have a one-click install, if not it takes about five minutes to install Wordpress!  Then you can download and install the plugin, all through Wordpress.  (One of the reasons I chose Wordpress is that it is very user-friendly and kind to the nontechnical...unlike Drupal or some of the other content management systems out there!)

Let me know if you need more help!

Tien

Posted on Wed, 10/28/2009 - 19:22

When you say you installed WordPress do you mean on your web hosting site or on your computer? Do you install NextGen Gallery through your web provide or your computer? If it's on your compuer are you a PC user or Mac? I'm a mac user and have found a lot of the galler apps aren't availalble for Mac. :(

I've been trying to figure this out myself, do you adminster your website through the WordPress admin log in?

Thanks for sharing yoru knowledge and experience!

Posted on Wed, 10/28/2009 - 19:05

On my web hosting site.  Basically all you have to do is upload the files to your web hosting site, do a very minor amount of configuration, and you're good to go!  Wordpress has more details here: http://wordpress.org/download/.  Then, from the Plugins section of the admin panel, just choose "Add new" and search for NextGen Gallery.  Wordpress will automatically install it for you, and presto! you're done.

There are web hosts that will install Wordpress for you - Dreamhost is one of them, but I think a lot of hosting service providers offer free Wordpress installations.  That makes it even simpler.

Tien

Posted on Wed, 10/28/2009 - 22:05

Found how to upgrade to the right version and have begun work! Thanks a million Tien! I'll post a link once I have Version 1 up and running!

Posted on Sat, 10/31/2009 - 16:05

Tien,

Pardom me if I'm being dense here, I don't normally have so many questions when learning new software computer skills, but this one is kicking my butt. I think I'm just trying to make it too complicated or it's been too long since I had to learn a new application.

I've got a few questions for you, as I'd really like to use a few bits from your site set up. I really like your drop down menus and your page set ups. Did you use a plug in to create your menu? Did you use a plug in to create the "sections" on your home page, such as the randomly selected project, most recent blog entry, etc. If so what plug ins did you use?

I did try searching for menu plug ins and installed two, but I can't figure either of them out. So I thought I'd defer to your experience and wisom in this matter!  :)

Posted on Sun, 11/01/2009 - 17:21

Hi,

The drop down menus came with my Wordpress theme (Thematic), so I'm not sure how they did it.  The sections on my homepage were hand-coded in PHP by me, over a period of about eight weeks (with much head-banging).  I'd be happy to provide you with the code, but I don't think you could do too much with it unless you are familiar with PHP (or willing to learn - it's pretty complex though). 

That said, for the random item I'm using the Wordpress Random Posts plugin (with a few modifications), and you might want to look at the Widgets Reloaded plugin - it gives you much more control over how the widgets behave in your sidebar.

The drop down menus are basically organized by page hierarchy.  For things that are not Pages but Posts, I just created a Page that redirects to the post's URL.  That makes the page show up in the drop down menu, but it redirects to the Posts.

If you want to talk through what I did to put my site together (it's conceivable you could take my theme and use it with a few changes to your site), send me a private message and we'll figure out a time to talk!

Posted on Sun, 11/01/2009 - 19:08

Wow Tien! I found the theme you're using and may consider using it as well. I've changed to Atahuapla theme, it has drop down menus. I can't tell you how generous I find your offer to use your theme, so I can build a similar site. Let me play around with this theme for a few days and see if i can use it to build the site look I want. I do love your theme and site, but I'm not sure if I want a "replica" of yours with my information. Your offer is very generous and I may still take you up on it, but I'd prefer to try to let you have a more unique site. :)

I serached for Wordpress Random Post in plug ins and came up with 5 pages of results. Would you be able to tell me who wrote that plug in? I tried one and wasn't pleased with it.

I really can't thank you enough for your inspiration and all your help on my site redesign! You are truly a pioneer in modern weaving!

Posted on Mon, 11/02/2009 - 13:36

It's called "Random Posts", by Rob Marsh.  Atahuapla theme is the one I tried first - it's highly customizable and might be the best one for you.  Thematic is also pretty customizable but it targeted more at theme developers.

Good luck with customizing your site - feel free to call on me if you have any  questions!

Tien

Posted on Tue, 11/03/2009 - 21:21

Cool, thanks again for all your help so far. One last question, I think. I like that you have a "static" home page with the blog page being seperate. Again I've tried out a few of the plug ins to do this, but haven't been very satisfied with any of them yet. May I ask who authored the plug in that you use for that?

I think this should allow me to do the last bit of site organization that I want and then I can leave you in peace with only my own site updates here! You have been so generous with your knowledge and exprience, I can't thank you enough!

Cheers,

Erica

Posted on Tue, 11/03/2009 - 21:35

Actually that isn't a plugin, but a Wordpress setting!  Create the Page you want to be your static home page, then go to the admin panel and, in the Selections section, select "Reading".  The first field says "Front page displays" and you can just select whatever Page you like as the static homepage.  Apparently you can do the same thing for the posts page too, but I don't know how that works so I haven't tried it.

Let me know if you have any other questions!  Good luck with the site, and definitely let us know once it's finished!

Tien

Posted on Thu, 11/05/2009 - 20:56

Well I'm finally getting the hang of the Word Press Structure. I really like it and it is becoming easier thanks to Tien's excellent example and tutelage! I was able to chang the reading setting and set up the blog.php file and use that template so that my blog is visible from my menu!

Check out the initial site

Comments/suggestions welcome!

Erica

Posted on Fri, 07/01/2011 - 07:49

Me gusta mucho como lo diseñaste, es alegre, facil de navegar, lo sencillo es lo mejor, por lo menos es mi opinion. No soy experta, solo es mi opinion y mi sensación.

Animo, sigue que es muy interesante!

Un beso desde España

Cristina