Well, that took a lot longer than I expected. But then these things usually do, right?
The design really only came together in the last couple of months. I remember at Northern Voice I was still struggling with placing a daily photo on the front page, with all the headaches that would entail. I still think it’s a cool idea, but I just couldn’t make it work. On the other hand, I’ve still got Sunset Beach and the West End in my header image. Right now it’s a static photo, but with a bit of thought I’m sure I could make it dynamic…
The other thing that pulled everything together was playing with Twenty Ten. As soon as 3.0 came out I dove right in and started building a new child theme. In hindsight Twenty Ten might not have been the best place to start, since a lot of my layout ideas came from a beautiful theme called Erudite.Though the documentation for Erudite mentions specifically that it’s for writers, I’ve found that it does pretty well for any content. (Hell, my inspiration, the lovely Life For Beginners, is very photo-heavy, and it works quite well.) I was attracted to Erudite’s clean and open layout, with minimal content in the sidebar, and had decided then that blogrolls, category archives, or what have you, could either go in the footer or just disappear.
Mind you, Twenty Ten is a great learning tool, so it certainly wasn’t wasted time. At WordCamp one of the speakers said you should try to develop your themes from scratch, because when adapting existing themes you may wind up with unknown design issues or unnecessary features. True enough (for example, I’m not using half of its widget areas): but I’d never gotten so deep into a theme before, and at least now I have first-hand experience of all these features I may or may not need.
What else? A lot of little things: threaded comments, gravatars, an honest-to-gosh contact form, courtesy of the excellent Contact Form 7 plugin. A redone blog archive page, inspired by that of Equivocality, and using the same plugin, Smart Archives.
Also, I decided to drop categories and go with tags. For a while I thought about using both, but every category scheme I came up with was either (a) so broad it became useless, or (b) so fine-grained it might as well be a tag cloud.
And finally, a portfolio! I’ve been talking about my volunteer web design projects for a while now, so why not show them off?