If you are a feed subscriber you might not know. But we’ve just launched the redesigned SuccessCREEations, Inc. website. There are still some bugs to work out yet and now I’m in the same boat that my clients often find themselves, a new website just begging to be filled with content.
The first thing I did was to bring the back end up to date with the latest version of WordPress. SuccessCREEations, Inc. had long been in that classic situation where, “the cobbler’s kids got no shoes.” There was so much work to do for clients and their sites that our own site was, ahem, a few versions back.
I gotta say that the completely redesigned WordPress 2.5 dashboard is very nice to work with. It is different, for sure, and takes a bit of getting used to.
But it took far less time to adjust than I expected, especially considering that I’ve been using WordPress for going on three years now. In fact, after spending less than a day with the new version I went back to the old version and was already forgetting where things were in the old menus.
The new dashboard design is that much better.
The most obvious change is of course the new look. For you feed readers, here’s a screen shot of the new design.
I had developed the new SuccessCREEations, Inc. logo a while back with the idea of using it as a starting point for a new look to the site. I pulled the gold in the compass rose points and the blue/purple from the logo and used those colors as the starting point.
Rather than design the entire site from scratch I went looking for a theme I could modify to meet my needs. I found just what I wanted in Brian Gardner’s Revolution Themes.
I’ve long admired Brian’s work. His themes are a pleasure to work with so I took one, tore it apart and then pieced it back together.
I’ve still got some tweaking to do, especially for you Internet Explorer users. But it is getting close to where I want it to be.
One major shift in design is that SuccessCREEations, Inc. now has a more business/traditional home page with the blog residing on an interior page. I know a lot of blogging purists would disagree with my decision there.
But as the site has grown from a straight up blog to a full blown consulting business I felt the change was needed.
In the coming weeks I’ll be adding content pages to provide information for visitors less familiar with blogging where they can find it more readily than before.
Check out a screen shot of the old design as a comparison.
New Permalink Structure
One of the things that I’ve been meaning to do for a while is change the permalink structure here at SuccessCREEations.com to more user and SEO friendly URL’s.
For those of you who are not quiet sure what I’m talking about, permalinks are the way that WordPress designates where each piece of content is accessible on your site. You can see the permalink in the address bar of your browser up top.
As an example, the default WordPress permalink for this page would be https://successcreeations.com/?p=420
That’s not very user friendly. Nor is it particularly good for the search engines either.
WordPress offers up an option that incorporates the date and post title in the permalinks. On this post that looks like https://successcreeations.com/2008/05/01/brand-new-design/
This option is a big step up from the default. And it’s the format we’ve used here at SuccessCREEations.com since day one.
Unfortunately that structure is still a bit clunky with all those date numbers in the middle of the url. It’s sure not user friendly. And according to some SEO experts, while it is much stronger than the default structure it still leaves a little to be desired.
I’ve wanted to improve it for a while but a couple things held me back.
For starters I had mixed ideas about which way I wanted to go with the links. What I wanted was to just use the post title by itself. The danger in that is that if I ever used exactly the same post title on two different posts, they would have the same URL. That’s a problem.
The second challenge is that changing permalinks on your web site will break all your inbound links. If you have a fair amount of inbound links built up that could be a major disaster. Even loosing the few thousand links pointing to successcreeations.com is something I really wanted to avoid.
Fortunately I found a WordPress advanced permalinks plugin that allows for changes without breaking links. So I went ahead and changed them while I was at it.
To eliminate the potential problem of duplicate URL’s for different posts, I added in the post ID number to the end of the permalinks. It ends up looking like this.
Much more user friendly. And better for the search engines as well.
And the good news is, if someone happens to enter in one of the variants above they will still end up in the same place! 🙂
There have been about a gillian other changes as well. I cut out a lot of the stuff from my sidebars. I’m still evaluating some of what will go back in.
For example I really like the Evoca widget. Trouble is no one ever used it in my sidebar. I think that’s a total bummer because it’s a great service and I really like Murem and the folks at Evoca. (And it doesn’t hurt that the company was Savannah based!)
Ditching MyBlogLog – One other thing I’ve done is left out the MyBlogLog code. I like the recent readers widget but BlogCatalog has one and I’m finding that their web site is just plain more social media oriented. I use it more. And quite frankly I never really used the MBL tracking and stats info.
That being said, I’ve added in WordPress’s native Gravitar support for comment pictures. So if you want to have a unique graphic to show up when you comment here go on over to http://en.gravatar.com/ and set up your free account.
Since support for them is now built into the WordPress core I suspect you will find more and more WP blogs switching to them as well.