House cleaning for the new year


In the past week I’ve put a lot of work into doing some much needed house cleaning and maintenance on this blog. I’ve had this site since 2010 and I am pretty proud of it. It started out as just a hand coded website before I migrated everything to WordPress. Today only the blog is run on WordPress and it uses a completely custom theme that I coded myself. The site has now gone through at least 5 major revisions over the years.

The most important thing I did was go through and clean up the code base. It’s a really good exercise to go through old code and seeing what can be improved upon or removed. In the case of this website there was a lot of excess code that I was able to remove, stray code from previous iterations or components I no longer used. I was also able to find areas where I could combine code snippets together and remove a lot of unnecessary repeated code.

This was long overdue. It’s by no means an exciting job so I’m really glad that I finally did it and got it out of the way.

The second big thing I did was improve the responsive design of the theme. I had made the blog theme responsive a few years back but there were some elements that scaled a little lesss gracefully than others. Mainly the grid of posts on the index and archive pages. So I finally went back and fixed that.

For the case of simplicity I used Bootstrap. I could have made my own responsive grid but I thought why bother when someone else has already done the hard word. So now the outcome is that the columns scale much more nicely now. You have 3 columns on most laptops, it scales down to two columns on a tablet and, and then scales down to one column on mobile.

With nice and lean code base and a completely responsive layout I set out to do a little bit of restyling to the theme. One thing I have done in the last couple of years is always tried to evolve the design I have on the site, rather than throw everything out and start a new. So there is a cohesion and progression to the site to the look and feel of the site.

I started out by changing all the fonts on the site and moving away from Helvetica which I was using all over the blog. I’ve switched to a combination of Open Sans for regular type and Oswald for headings. I did this in order to try and better match the new blog sections (managed with WordPress) to the rest of the site which is controlled by Photo Shelter. I think overall there is a slightly better cohesion between the two.

I also tried to touch up and work on all the details that I have never been completely satisfied with but never had the time to address. From the posts grid, to the archive page navigation, to single post navigation, and to the footer. I spent time working on all of them making sure there is a cohesion between elements in their design and function.

With that it’s time to charge the camera batteries and get back to work.