When is a blog not a blog? When it is an IT project. I recently realised that The Cook’s Digest had become too focused on making it look good rather than fulfilling what I originally wanted to do … sharing our home cooking experience.
It also transpired that from the outset of this blog, my wife was, in fact, right …
When I started with the blog, I used the WordPress “Plane” theme. I made some alterations to it because the blog wasn’t quite how I wanted it to look. Some changes I made caused an issue that needed fixing somewhere else, and these were mostly related to imagery on the homepage.
Keep reading, you’ll soon find out what my wife was right about.
I looked at other food blogs, e.g. Green Cooking Blog (which is really good). They were image-centric, enticing readers with pictures of lovely dishes. However, the theme (Cubic) didn’t show any text on the homepage other than the title, and I wanted readers to see some context.
Enter the Dyad theme (pictured above), which did show pictures that were clickable and also show the excerpt property of a blog post. But it wasn’t quite right, mainly because all of my featured images were landscape and Dyad used a portrait cut-out. There were some other issues too.
Thus began a few weeks (!!!) of effort to transform the Dyad theme into what I wanted it to look like. Or, what I thought I wanted it to look like. Once done, I sat back and marveled at my creation.
And after six weeks of observing the usage stats nosediving, started to consider that the new image based look and feel wasn’t working for readers.
We’re nearly there.
Last weekend I saw The Richmond Avenue blog (another great food blog). As a first time reader of the blog, and I scrolled down the homepage. Each blog post was clear, clean and presented as an introduction to a recipe card, with the standard “more link” for detail. I didn’t need to click on a picture to see some context and then go back to the homepage (which was how my blog had been working using Dyad).
Then the light-bulb moment! I had lost focus on what a blog is all about … reading content. Specifically, making it easy for visitors to read content.
The theme for The Richmond Avenue isn’t available on WordPress.com, so I looked at what was available that matched. The free “Lovecraft” theme was very close, so close that after only a couple of hours of tweaking it, I got The Cook’s Digest to look exactly how I wanted … clean, clear and readable.
Which is ironic because my wife suggested the “Lovecraft” theme when I first started the blog, but I went with “Plane” instead :). So this time I ate humble pie and asked her to test drive the new theme. It got two thumbs up.
I hope you enjoy it as well.