When I eventually convert the site to a CMS platform…

June 21, 2011, 11:16 PM

This is one of those things that I’ve been thinking about, and am looking for some feedback on it. As you may know, I’ve been planning to eventually convert Schumin Web to run on WordPress. I’ve kind of scaled that back, however, because of the way things have been going with the redesign aspect of things. Basically, when I convert the site to WordPress, the site is probably going to look the same as it has for a while.

See, here’s the problem. The redesign end of things has really gone to crap. Recall that the first attempt, while bold, lacked personality:

Concept work in February 2011

Then I tried again in May:

May 2011 design concept

As you can see, I took a more conservative approach the second time, and still didn’t like the result. The first attempt put everything on the table, and that’s why you see a new logo, new colors, etc. The second time attempted to evolve what’s been around for almost seven years now, and bring it forward. But considering that the first attempt actually was populated with content, and the second concept still said “Template Page” at the top, I think you can tell that I didn’t get very far before deciding that I hated it and didn’t want to continue.

By the way, using an internal page (part 1 of Million Worker March in this case) for the stock content to fill out the first concept really confused the heck out of people. It seemed to make sense to me to use an internal page for the concept rather than the Main Page, because 99.9% of the site will look like that internal page, while the Main Page looks very different from the rest of the site. But the people that I showed my concepts to for opinions couldn’t quite wrap their minds around that it wasn’t the main page.

So when the site first goes 100% WordPress, it is going to look mostly the same, as happened in 2007 and 2010. I figure that this is probably for the better. In 2007 and 2010, the site was very different under the hood from the previous incarnation, though it looked (mostly) the same on the outside. In 2007, I was learning how to use Dreamweaver, and how to work with PHP and MySQL. In 2010, I was learning how to do CSS layouts plus cleaning up the code (I kludged in a few places in 2007). In both cases, I knew exactly what the product needed to look like in the end. I was reproducing an existing design. For learning the technical side of things, it’s probably a good thing to put the creativity aside and master the skills before really pulling out the paintbrush. I’m sure that a few of my friends, particularly the ones who have been pushing for me to really shake things up, will be disappointed, but I think baby steps are probably better for me than a huge rollout of a new platform, layout, and everything all at once. It makes it too easy to accidentally build in a problem and not realize it until way down the line. This way I can get the technical end of things finished and all the content migrated before I start thinking about personality and what the site represents and how that should translate to make a fresh, new look.

Then there’s something else to think about: I’ve been reworking a number of my photos on Wikipedia as of late. Basically, I’m finding a photo that I had taken some time ago, that I had edited to whatever specification at the time and uploaded. Apparently I thought it looked good at the time, but now I’m thinking that the processing was a little funny. So now I’m going through, locating the original on disc, and doing the image work on it again. The results definitely look better. So the question becomes, do I want to go through and reprocess the older photo sets in the process of converting the site over (it would make sense to do it then if I’m already taking the site apart again), or do I want to leave them alone and not reprocess them, with the idea being that the way they were processed at the time has value as well? Of course, then there’s the idea of what photo sets have what. For anything before March 2002, the large-size images were retrofitted in later, and so some of the image processing doesn’t match. Then for everything from the J20 photo set and back, there are no full-resolution “masters” for the photo set. Thus any usages of those images (such as in the Photo Feature) would require reprocessing anyway. Since 2005, except for J20, there are full-resolution masters for all the photo sets, prepped as they were for the set. Some uniformity would be nice to have as far as that goes, but I have to wonder whether it’s worth the trouble to retrofit really old material. Who knows.

So yeah, this is challenging. But once I get everything ported over, doing the Web site will be far simpler than it is now, plus it will make future redesigns much easier.

Web site: Editing a WordPress theme with Dreamweaver - I'm using this as a lesson towards theme building.

Song: Sound effects from Angry Birds. I finally beat all the levels of the original game today on the Metro coming home from work, and now I'm working on the "Seasons" edition of the game.

Quote: Meanwhile, I have dropped 45 pounds since March, when I started on my journey towards a healthy weight. I'm as surprised as anyone. Now I need to keep it up, and continue busting my butt, because I'm apparently getting results.