Blog design progress: themes, tags, asides, categories . . .

I was interested to note that when I first began reading blogs I saw a lot of blog posts about Blogging. Now I know why. I’m now on my fifth day of tinkering with themes, and blog design. I just wanted a nice simple setup:

  • categories & sub-categories
  • unobtrusive blog post surround
  • some static page support, unobtrusive tabs
  • not rounded, postmodern design
  • customisable sidebars – three columns
  • a colour scheme I could live with
  • graphic header
  • Full width

Do you think this is easy?  Things have grown a lot more complex and fun since we first started designing our own blog 2 years ago.  I started with the themes . . .
There is the themes directory for WordPress. One at random: MamboPress. These themes are very good of course, but not many have the things I need, and in many the implementation seems patchy. Tim of course tells me this is normal and I just need to learn to hack the code cause I will never get what I want out of the box.

At present I am using Anaconda. K2 plus Mollio > Anaconda. However I may not continue with this. They are seriously going commercial. There is a free support forum with about 20 questions on it, some 70 days old and no answers. But I do like the theme. It has support for a few nice plugins. Like the tags you see on the left. But, this created a problem.

How do I want to categorise my blog? It might end up something like this:

* Blogging (11) * Coffee (1) * Communities (7) * Community of Practice (4)
* Conferences (2) * Cool Tools (8) * E-Learning (3) * Events 05 (1)
* FLLiNZ (5) * Food (2) * Leadership (7) * Learning (6) * mylife (8)
* ole (5) * Quotes (1) * Stillpoint (4) * Storytelling (2) * Travel (1)
* two point zero (1) * Web 2.0 (8) * Whimsey (4)

But do I want several communities categories? What about OLE PLE VLE (etc) which is a HUGE preoccupation at the moment, but I may get bad news on Monday and it may be off the radar. And where do I put special topics I want to actively promote like Feuerstein? I probably need an articles page.

Then there is tagging. What do I do with tags? There is the potential to create something quite special with tags, to search for and find just what you want, and serve up the posts in lots of different ways.

Other blogs I really like the design of.

  • (But dn’t you hate Google ads sometimes . . .)
  • sNews based, one of my all time current favourites with the new one post, stuff at the bottom style)
  • Gridlock Black, modern . . .
  • Dark Ritual has a nice three column approach, full height on the right . . . Pages in the wrong place though. This I thought I might have been able to hack, and get tabs where I need them.
  • And I guess this, even if it is two columns, as a prize winning theme I have used a bit . . Connections is based on this with a non-blog page at the front.  I may go this way also.

Then came the question of asides. For a musing on asides, and probably an overuse of them see Photo Matt. And for another use of them. Little postlets between real posts, but very appropriate for this blog – just a collection of links really. But how frustrating – they would be a lot better listed in one place. But you can make comments. In amidst the extreme clutter.
Tim (who has another neat blog format, his whole life in 4 categories) told me about asides.

One category in WP is set aside as an aside category and these are treated in a special way. I will activate this sometime.

3 comments on “Blog design progress: themes, tags, asides, categories . . .
  1. It’s true, I admit it, I put a google ad on my frontpage. But it’s supposed to be just the one wee small text-ad, it shouldn’t take up much space…

    I can’t see it myself, either Google or my work proxy is blocking it..

    Please let me know if this is not the case and you are getting something humongous, that’s not what I want…

  2. Chirnside Derek says:

    Hi Alex, I’ve visited your blog. Don’t worry – the ads are small and discrete, I am just oversensitive!! See my post today for a screen shot.

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