When I first launched my blog the main intention was to make my mark online. Without sticking into blogspot (Anyway, I had a blog on there for a short stint) or wordpress.com, I decided to go one step ahead and host the blog in my own domain with a customized template. That was a good move at that time and it did caught the eyes of several people. The blog enabled me to get into networks and I had a niche readership community composed mainly of local geeks. That was fine for a start.
Later when my other engagements became priorities, as usual the focus for the blog got diminished. Also the readership didn't get expanded and it was stalled for a while. Some of my friends criticized about the blog being stagnant and from them I learnt the presentation of the blog too doesn't appear attractive enough for casual readers. In conclusion, I felt this blog needs an overhaul in terms of both content and the layout. Hence, I came up with redesign.
It took me about one week to finish the whole thing and I'm constantly tweaking it to look better.
Site StructureI felt having too many posts on homepage would make difficult for a reader on grasp the content. I decided to go with the tabloid style with giving more focus for the latest article and having next 3 most recent posts in a secondary level. Hope this will give better attention to each single post.
Apart from original musings, I've added a separate section called 'masterpieces', to share the great stuff I find on the net. On the homepage five most recent masterpieces will be displayed. I recommend you to subscribe to its RSS feed and catch every beat (http://feeds.feedburner.com/laktek/masterpieces)
Another new addition in this redesign is tagging for posts. I think the tag cloud on the footer will give a first time visitor a clear idea of the flavor of the blog.
DesignThis is my first site designed based on the grid based layout. It was bit of an experiment and I really liked the concept. Anyway, it was Blueprint CSS framework made the process so easy. I went with the default 24 column grid and it was so convenient in positioning the elements. Blueprint also have a nice built in reset and typography styles, which took off load of css hackery from my ass. Oh ! should not forget the print stylesheet comes with it, which makes the site look smart in print without any effort.
As a developer, I really love the Blueprint CSS. It made my life easy taking care of all those stuff I hate to do with CSS. That allowed me to focus more on the look and feel. My design buddies had slightly different idea of this concept, they felt it as somewhat bloated and too heavy. But for a occasional designer with development attitude Blueprint is the answer! (Remember how much developers hate the structure of CSS code itself). Hats off to Olav Bjorkoy for creating such awesome framework.
The PlatformThough I was looking at alternatives to replace Wordpress as the platform, I finally decided to stick with WP. Mainly for the stability of WP as a blogging system. This site now runs on WP 2.3.1 and basically WP is matured enough to cover all basic needs of an web blog from tagging to comment spamming. Also due to the large community around WP you never runs short of plugins. If you wished to have some feature, then some other has already done with it and also been generous enough to present it as a plugin.
Anyway my only issue with WP is the templating system. That may be because I was working too much on MVC in the recent past. Feature of MVC based systems such as Silverstripe and Ruby on Rails is having clean templates. The clear separation of functionality from the view makes the life easy.
Thats how the things went basically and I feel bit happy of the outcome. Anyway its success is thoroughly based on how you, the users anticipate and how much you find this place useful. That's the essence of user-centered design. So drop your comments, those will really help me to make this better.