July 14, 2010

A Perfectionist’s Guide to Website Creation, Part Two

The Proverbial Magic Hat

So in the last post, I explained how I decided on the infrastructure of my website. Yadda, yadda. Boring. But this time, I’ll talk about the magic of website creation. For those of you that do this stuff for a living, this will probably all be old hat. Er, yeah, I didn’t actually intend that pun. Whatever. Moving on…

This post is for the rest of you who get dragged into learning this website stuff, or maybe you’re trying to save money, or maybe, just maybe, you’re like me and simply want to have control over your own website. That’s not a bad thing, you know.

Think of it this way—if you know your website inside and out, when something needs to be fixed or updated, you’ll know how to do it and you won’t have to wait for your web designer or administrator to get around to doing it for you. Save money, faster updates, and total control. *swoon* Er, okay, I guess in addition to being an over-achieving perfectionist, I’m also easily amused.

How I Did It (The Long Version)

There are several ways to customize your website. One main way is by using a theme. The theme you choose will affect the colors, background, and layout of your website. As I mentioned in Part One, one thing I liked about the Thesis theme was that it didn’t lock me into only one option for the colors and layout. Okay, so I had a theme, but where did I go from there?

I started with a picture to use for the background of my website, business card, twitter page, etc. After colorizing and making it semi-transparent, I used Color Hunter and uploaded my photo to design the color palette. I have zero graphics background (Hey!  I can hear you professionals’ snarky “Duh, that was obvious” comments from here.), but this step was fun. It’s like picking paint colors to do a room makeover, but the results are near instantaneous.

Working with plugins and widgets was also fun because it was just so…so magic. I just dragged a widget onto the sidebar and all kinds of things automatically happened. Love that. It was easy too. I have plugins for my feeds, Google Analytics, polls, newsletter, related posts, popular posts, and sharing links for posts.

Okay, that was the fun and easy stuff. But then came the real work: editing the css and php files. I managed to blow up my test website only about 5 times while I was trying to figure this out. I consider that pretty good. (Oh, you mean that missing semicolon was really important? Oops.)  I edited those files to customize my header and footer, the comment section, add teasers to the static home page, grab my altered photograph for the background, and create a custom 404 page.

In short, I have all the stuff you’d expect from a much bigger, well-established website. Why? I’ll go into this more in the next post of this series, but I believe in beginning as you mean to go on.

Are there things you wish you could change about your website?  Why haven’t you done it?  Is it a matter of “can’t” or “don’t know how”?  What would you change about my site?

Comments — What do you think?

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Geez, if I waited long enough I could have just followed you step-by-step here. Why didn’t you tell me? And hey, is this where I have to come to find you nowadays? Sheesh!

Murphy – who’s still loving your kick-ass website!


[…] Part One, I covered the infrastructure of my website, and in Part Two, I touched on some of the ways I customized my website.  But the issue really comes down to why.  […]

Laura Cook
Laura Cook

last week our group held a similar discussion about this topic and you illustrate something we have not covered yet, thanks.

– Laura

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