lifestream_redesignSo late last year I decided it was time for a site re-design. The blog turns 3 years 2 years old in March and I thought it was time so I spent the last month or so working on it.

I started the process looking for a base WordPress theme I could use. This took a looong time which is kind of strange since all I wanted was a pretty minimal theme. Luckily I finally found what I wanted in the Blue White theme by AskGraphics. And even though it offered a design I really liked, I ended up editing almost all images and template files, as well as the stylesheet. The theme has a very rigid method for forcing several elements so I had to spend way more time in Photoshop than I would have liked to. I also inserted, moved around, and removed tons WordPress functions from the templates. In the end, I’m pretty happy with the outcome.

Along with the design changes, I also wanted to make some content changes as well. I removed widgets for Google Friend connect and MyBlogLog and opted for the addition of the Twitter Remote widget. This provides a list of the latest Twitter users that visit the site. I wasn’t seeing much value in the addition of Google Connect and really only wanted one recent readers widget and currently feel Twitter users cast a wider net for inclusion on the site.

I also added a great little customizable Twitter search widget to display the latest tweets from anyone using the term “Lifestreaming”. So if you find something on the web and want to share it with people and appear on the sidebar, send a tweet.

I also had previously offered both the internal WordPress search as well as the Lijit search service. I tweaked some of the settings for Lijit and opted to make it my only search mechanism. Lijit is in my mind the best search service on the web and offers functionality which resonates well with my content and readers.

In addition to the Lifestreaming Tweets widget, I also wanted to try and include any more helpful data I could aggregate on the site that is useful. I use many tools and methods to track Lifestreaming news and wanted to find ways to share that on the site. I’m a big fan of sites that do a good job of providing a comprehensive way to aggregate data. One such site that caught my eye recently is the Lifestreaming page over at Daymix.com

For now I have added an RSS feed to my Delicious Lifestream tag. I use this to track all the latest info so it’s probably the best way to get my real-time feed. I’m currently just using the included RSS widget provided by WordPress but hope to add Simplepie soon which is a more powerful and flexible RSS parser as I add more feeds.

I also plan to revamp several of the other navigation pages as well. I really want to add many more services to the Define area of the site and make it more comprehensive. Many of the other pages need attention as well. But I grow tired of postponing getting this live, especially as it’s eating into what I should be doing…which is writing more posts. So here it is.

Anyways, I hope while not a story on Lifestraming, this has provided some valuable insight on my re-design and the process. I always find it very useful to hear others provide this type of information. I hope you find this useful in the spirit of sharing.

A few days ago I posted a preview of the current design on FriendFeed. I wanted to thank everyone who provided me with feedback. I really appreciate it. On that same note, please leave a comment or send me an email if there is something else you’d like to have me add to the site.

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