Welcome to the newly designed Cold Climate Gardening. I’ve spent a couple of months working behind the scenes, to give you a better-looking and better-functioning website. I’m hoping it will be easier to find the information you need and to continue conversations in the online gardening community.
I’ve created this new design using Thesis, a theme framework created by Chris Pearson, the same guy who designed my previous theme. It’s been challenging learning new concepts such as functions and hooks, but also gratifying, as I see a design I’ve had in my mind finally take shape on my computer screen. Just imagine how you feel when a garden bed you’ve been working on for three years finally comes into peak bloom, and everything works together gloriously.
Lots of Little Improvements
I hope you’ll appreciate the changing photos in the right-hand corner, and find the overall design easy to read and navigate through. I’ve also made a number of small improvements and additions:
- The Garden Blog Directory has been restructured so that you can now jump to a state or other geographical region. I’ve also added a few other categories, such as Garden Writers Association (GWA) members and Spring Fling attendees, and since this is a website about cold climate gardening, I’ve grouped them into a category of their own as well.
- I’ve brought back the Subscribe to Comments feature. It makes it so much easier to follow an interesting conversation going on in the comment.
- I also added Commentluv, so you can see each commenter’s most recent post
- There is now also a place to enter your Twitter name in the comment form, which is visible to everyone reading the comments. Hopefully we’ll all find new gardeners to follow.
- I also put a link to my contact form up at the top. I was surprised how many people weren’t clear on how to contact me with the previous design, because my email was at the end of every post, and a link to the contact form was in the menu. Hopefully no one can miss this.
Speaking of Twitter, I’m experimenting with a new way of posting to my blog. I’ve always felt frustrated during the peak garden chore rush that I didn’t seem to have time to both garden and blog. Last year, I thought Twitter, with its 140 character message limitation, would enable to me to send brief “notes from the field” when there wasn’t time for a longer post. But not everyone follows Twitter updates–not even when they’re in my sidebar–and not all of my tweets were about gardening.
By adjusting my settings on Ping.fm, I can send only my garden-related tweets to this blog. Currently when I do it this way, they are also going to Twitter and Facebook. The faithful few who follow me on all three might get sick of the repetition. You guys will have to let me know. The other problem is I haven’t figured out a good way to style these messages so that it’s clear they have a different origination, and so that they fit in with the other, longer posts. I’m still working on this, and I’d appreciate hearing your thoughts.
More on the Thesis theme framework
I first became interested in Thesis because I was using Cutlines, an earlier theme of Chris Pearson’s, for my previous design. Chris does a great job with typography, always producing WordPress themes that are easy to read, which is very important to me, since I tend to write longer than typical posts.
But as I did more research, I realized Thesis is more than a theme; it’s a framework that enables you to change the outward appearance more easily without losing track of modifications you have made to the underlying software. It has a lot of flexibility built into it, so that the designer can readily avoid a cookie cutter look. Both Margaret Roach of A Way to Garden and Susan Harris of Sustainable Gardening Blog are using the Thesis framework for their website designs, and they couldn’t be more different.
As I continued to work with Thesis, getting ready for this new design, I was impressed enough that I decided to sign up for the affiliate program. That means if you click on any of the Thesis links on this site and buy it, I’ll get a commission. I also plan to help others use this theme through my blog consulting service. As their marketing slogan proclaims, Thesis is “a search engine optimized WordPress theme with options galore for serious online publishers.” But as with any full-featured product, there is a learning curve involved. If you’re not already a whiz with php, css, and WordPress, you’re either going to have to hire someone to help, do some serious learning, or stick with the out-of-the-box design, which itself offers many options.
Let me know what you think of the new design. I hope you’re as excited about it as I am!
Don’t miss the Scavenger Hunt going on in celebration of the new design! Prizes awarded on April 13th.