I started Uneventoast in 2014 with a free wordpress theme and a basic hosting package from Hostgator*. A year later, the content expanded from just reviewing travel related films and documentaries to doing interviews with filmmakers and writing about my own personal travels. Because of its basic format, the free theme didn’t give me room to customise.
As my content expanded in both size and variety, I realised I needed a new format to support its growth. It was time to redecorate. I pulled the curtain down on the homepage and embarked on a 6 month long redesign. To ensure my blog was as user-friendly as possible during the overhaul, I implemented the Coming Soon plug-in. The plug-in allowed me to showcase details of my social media platforms. This meant that I could not only notify visitors that the page was under construction, but also give them the opportunity to access my content across other platforms.
The first step in my redesign was finding the right theme. There a thousands available, both free and paid. I opted for the Divi Theme by Elegant Themes for an annual cost of $69. Divi uses customisable blocks and sections into which you can input all of your content, text images. Then these are used to build your pages and posts. The drag and drop functionality made personalising the blog even more simple. Even better, the responsive layout allowed the pages to adjust no matter what device its being viewed on. Not being a designer or developer by nature, it still took a bit of imagination and head scratching to get the right look.
I spent the most a lot of time on this. I opted for a full width image for the homage to visually represent the theme of the blog, and an “About” button in the centre to direct visitors to my short bio and contact details. Photo courtesy of Unsplash.
I wasn’t looking to deviate from the previous format. I kept the feature images and text left justified as I had previously, but I set the posts to full width, removing the sidebar where widgets would normally sit.
The feature images were probably my biggest headache. I couldn’t stop them from expanding beyond the dimensions I set in WordPress. I tried re-sizing the images with a plug-in, and even asked for help in Facebook groups. I found no joy. Bute then, WP Fix It to the rescue! They charge $39 to fix any WordPress issues you are having. For me, it was small price to pay.
I needed to get 3 images for each of the pages, so I hired a designer from Fiverr for help with these. As I’m currently really enjoying photography, my favourite social platform at the minute is Instagram. To weave the platform into my blog, I used a plug-in called Instagram Feed, which – you guessed it – shows my live Instagram feed on each page.
You can follow @Uneventoast
Plugins are a little like extras on a car; some of them you can see, some of them you can’t. At the moment I have 15 plug-ins. I’ll just go through a few of the main ones:
Allows readers to add their comments at the bottom of my posts.
This is the plug-in I used on each page to show my Instagram feed. I’m debating whether to add this to each post.
I’m still getting to grips with SEO and its constant changes. Yoast uses a traffic light system to show how well your posts are optimised.
I use a website called compressor.io to compress. WP Smush cuts out any unnecessary data to reduce the file size. This is all done without compromising the quality of the image.
Better done than perfect
I have deliberated over the look and design of the site for a long time, and I still see things that need to be improved and changed. I could keep making adjustments forever. I’m grateful to the people who offered to re design this for me, but I feel so accomplished after undertaking the task by myself.