I’ve been writing blogs long before I knew what a cascading style sheet was. In fact, part of what led me down the path to become a web developer was the frustration of the limitations of Blogger and their templates.
I have a Top Tunes Blog hosted at Blogger. Ugly, messy thing isn’t it? So ugly that I became too embarrassed to load new content to it last year.
So there was only one option. Move it to WordPress, develop my own theme and have it looking exactly how I wanted it.
Though I didn’t know how I wanted it to look. Nor did I know how to develop with WordPress. Those were the first two obstacles to overcome.
I started learning WordPress development in September. By November I was quite comfortable using it. In December I transferred my portfolio (this site) to WordPress and made my own theme. This month was time to practice what I had learnt, and hopefully bring some new additions to my skill set.
One issue that I have when making a website for myself, is that I have to do the design myself. I have a slight interest and curiosity in design but I am certainly not a designer. To quote my ex-employer, “…your design skills are shit. But we don’t need a designer”. Sadly I do have to be my own designer.
In terms of design, I tend to think structure, colour then fonts.
I decided to lay out the videos using the whole width of the page – 6 for desktop, 2 for mobile (I might change that to 1), 3 and 4 for widths in between.
For fonts, I used Open Sans Condensed – text isn’t a major part of my blog, as it is more about listening to music, and Barrio for the titles. Barrio was a lucky pick, it was literally at the top of Google Fonts and I decided it worked – it gave the site a sense of fun and playfulness – listening to music should be enjoyable. For the colour scheme, I just tried ‘midnightblue’ for no other reason than testing and decided it might work. At which point I then used white, and two others shades of blue, with a burgundy for link text. On the single blog posts, I have a yellow background to try to contrast this with the main front page. That might change.
In terms of behaviour, I just wanted the main page to display the video, title, and the reactions – this required separate content pages in the template folder. This is for the 12 most recent tracks (12 divides by more numbers than 10 does).
Below I have a random tracks section, where 12 random tracks are displayed. There is a fair-sized problem in that the importer from Blogger hasn’t correctly imported older blog posts, so the videos are missing from around 60% of the blogs. So I might scrap the random tracks section – which would also help with loading times. Either that or go through and manually check all 900+ blog posts…hmmmm.
I also wanted added functionality, so visitors can go to Discogs to buy the vinyl. Which I have been adding a link manually via a custom taxonomy, though I have just realised as I write, that Discogs probably have an API, and that I could surely do that automatically searching via JSON with the title, saving me time. In fact, maybe I could even do that with Youtube to save me replacing all the missing videos? Wow, I do impress myself sometimes – though I’ll be more impressed once that is done!
I’ve also added custom taxonomies for genre, record label and release year, with the idea being that I will work out how to create filters, so visitors can see which tracks I rated from say “1997”. Though I don’t know how to do that yet.
For now, I’m happy with my creation in terms of releasing it to the public and saying, hey look at my new blog, but there are new features I will be adding as I continue to expand my WordPress knowledge. Definitely enjoyed this little project.