Nine Reasons Why I Changed My Blog Design Plus a Duluth Trading Giveaway

– Posted in: About this site

Cold Climate Gardening has gotten a makeover! I’ve changed the wallpaper and rearranged the furniture again. Why can’t I leave well enough alone? Well, why does anyone redecorate a room? To address problems and to make it look better–and because it’s fun! And I figured out some ways to make it more enjoyable for you, dear reader. Read on for nine reasons why I changed my website’s design. Which one will make the biggest difference for you? In addition, Duluth Trading is helping me celebrate by giving away three $50 gift cards to lucky commenters. Details after my list!

#1 Looks better on smartphones and tablets

This is the biggest reason why I wanted (needed) to change my design. More and more of you are catching up on your blog reading using tablets and smartphones. My old design didn’t adapt to these new devices. The new design will change its format depending on what you’re using to view it.

Cold Climate Gardening on a tablet

Here’s how it looks on a smartphone. Compare that to the image at the top of the post, which shows CCG on a tablet.

#2 Easier to read

Bigger type and better spacing make it easier to read, yes?

#3 Bigger pictures

The pictures are bigger, too. See?

Gratuitous pretty picture: Iris siberica 'Jay Bird'

Gratuitous pretty picture: Iris siberica ‘Jay Bird’

#4 Upgrade the software

I use The Thesis Theme for WordPress(affiliate link). My old design used Thesis 1.8.5. The current version of Thesis is 2.1.8. Besides making it easier to accomplish #1, it also had many other improvements, so it made sense to upgrade. But there was no easy upgrade path using my old design; I had to start over from scratch. So why not change it up?

#5 Include my RebelMouse page

I know a lot of my readers are not on other forms of social media, so I’ve been wanting to include my RebelMouse page on this website. RebelMouse collects what I’ve posted on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest and displays it in one central location.

Cold Climate Gardening The Back Page Screen Capture

See what I’ve posted to Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest without belonging to any of those sites.

Unlike my blog posts, it’s not all about gardening, so I relegate it to the back page. Still, if you find it interesting and want to keep up with it, hover your cursor over Follow Kathy Purdy and it will give you a place to get updates by email.

#6 Make older content more accessible from the menus

I’ve been writing on Cold Climate Gardening for over ten years. There’s more than 1,200 posts in the archives! I doubt anyone but me has read them all, and even I sometimes forget what I’ve written. I’ve created a double menu to help you find interesting stuff you might have overlooked. (See screenshot below) The top menu is devoted to Cold Climate Gardening’s main mission: the blog, the blog directory, cold climate everything, and local (Upstate NY) gardening support. But the menu below that is organized along more topical lines. Hover your cursor over the main items and see what drops down. I bet you’ll find something that piques your interest. And there’s always the traditional Archives, organized by date, category, and tag.

front page screenshot of

Click to enlarge and view highlights of the new front page

#7 Feature seasonal content and photos on the front page

Another way to help you find overlooked goodies is the newly created front page (Home on the menu–see screenshot above). At the top are some seasonally appropriate pretty pictures, eye candy plain and simple. But they are all taken somewhere at the Old House or the New House, even if they’ve never been used for a blog post, so they are all bona fide cold climate photos. You can scroll through them using those dots at the bottom. After a brief introduction and the most recent post, you’ll find three seasonal posts from the archives displayed for your perusal.

#8 You can read all the quotations in one place

Many of you have told me you enjoy the quotations. The plugin I formerly used to display them was ancient and with every upgrade to WordPress I was afraid it would no longer work. Now I have implemented a new way of storing and displaying the quotations that should be compatible with future upgrades to WordPress. And since the quotations are displayed randomly, there’s a good chance you’ve never seen them all–until now. Once I get them all moved over, the entire collection will be viewable here, for those of you who want to browse, or to re-read a quotation you found particularly compelling.

#9 Intellectual and creative challenge

I really enjoy the process of creating a new look for my website, but I don’t think I could have managed it without help from Rick Anderson and his Build Your Own Business Website. I watched many of his instructional videos, and installed and adapted his Carta skin for Cold Climate Gardening’s new look. Paying the membership fee to take advantage of the many resources on BYOBW saved me a lot of aggravation and hair-pulling. I’ve been so impressed with the help from his videos that I’ve become an affiliate. If you click on the link and join I will get a commission. But there are plenty of free videos you can view first, so you know what you will be getting for your membership fee.

Duluth Trading Giveaway

Thanks to the generosity of the Duluth Trading Company, three lucky commenters chosen at random will receive a $50 gift card good towards purchasing anything from the Duluth Trading Company website. If you’ve read my reviews, you know I think they make durable work clothes that allow you to move freely. I’m very happy to give you the chance to try some of their gear for yourself. Just comment below to have a chance to win. Tell me what you like most about the new design, suggest improvements, or mention what you’d like to try from Duluth. Or I’d love to know your favorite CCG post of all time. But you can just say you’d like to win, if you’re short on time or at a loss for words. The giveaway is limited to postal addresses in the United States and Canada. (Duluth ships internationally, but I am mailing the gift cards and am limiting my postage expense.) The giveaway will end at midnight Pacific Time on Mother’s Day, Sunday May 11, 2014.

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

Now, the digging and dividing of perennials, the general autumn cleanup and the planting of spring bulbs are all an act of faith. One carries on before the altar of delayed gratification, until the ground freezes and you canโ€™t do any more other than refill the bird feeder and gaze through the window, waiting for the snow. . . . Meanwhile, it helps to think of yourself as a pear tree or a tulip. You will blossom spectacularly in the spring, but only after the required period of chilling.

~Adrian Higgins in The Washington Post, November 6, 2013

Comments on this entry are closed.

Victoria May 11, 2014, 8:49 pm

My iPad appreciates the upgrade!

AmyO May 11, 2014, 8:21 pm

Your new makeover looks great, very clean and streamlined! I have always wanted to order from Duluth but never got around to it….perhaps now will be the time!

Heather B May 11, 2014, 8:04 pm

Love the redesign and I would love to win as I have never heard of their company before!

Linda De Vries May 11, 2014, 3:47 pm

Would love to try Duluth’s Windshirts. Love everything else I’ve tried of theirs.

Kathryn May 11, 2014, 6:52 am

Yes! Especially re. #1. Reading this on an iPhone now! It is the device I use for most of my Web reading and browsing these days because it is so convenient. While waiting for one’s husband to get out of the shower so we can (maybe just once!) get to church on time I can read your posts.

Frank May 10, 2014, 10:10 pm

Wow, you’ve been busy! I don’t think I even know half the work that went into all this… sometimes I have enough trouble just trying to figure out how to log in ๐Ÿ˜‰
I particularly like the larger reading area and larger font, it makes it much easier to read, and I’m going to have to sit down with your archives one of these days to review ๐Ÿ™‚

Ruth Purdy May 10, 2014, 9:11 pm

You caught my attention with the giveaway. Thanks for sparking some great memories for me, about my mother who loved to rearrange the furniture in our house when I was growing up. I always like your pictures!

jodi DeLong May 10, 2014, 7:46 pm

Hi Kathy, I’m just commenting to build up the comments–no need to include me in the draw because I’m up in Canada. I love the new look of your blog, and it reminds me that I ought to do something similar. One of these days. ๐Ÿ™‚

Renee May 10, 2014, 7:42 pm

Hmmm. Thought I had commented. Tried the mobile version, and definitely like it. I have a couple of Duluth shirts that were great last summer — stayed cool-looking even on sticky days at work, which was great. Love the extra swing room in the shoulders.

Patsy Bell Hobson May 9, 2014, 12:01 pm

Your site is easier to navigate. If I got the gift certificate, I think I would like to use that moblile phone storage.

Ilona May 8, 2014, 3:44 pm

You are always an inspiration and the new look is clean and clear. Everything looks ship-shape and so professional!
The whole effect is what I like- and think the revamped sidebar really adds to that.

The only thing I am not personally crazy about is the footer, but it is really fine the way it is- I just prefer a footer to be darker and without the borders.

The rebelmouse page was a cool idea.

KellyM May 7, 2014, 9:14 pm

I like the new design and especially the bigger pictures. Would love to win the giveaway. Thanks for the chance.

Cindy Deloy May 7, 2014, 2:27 pm

Love the new design, and always love bigger pictures, Thanks Cindy

Pat Haywood May 7, 2014, 2:14 pm

Love the new design – makes navigation much easier when looking up past postings. Also LOVE Duluth’s long history of great quality products!

Donalyn@TheCreeksideCook May 7, 2014, 12:33 pm

I love the new look Kathy – very nice and definitely visitor-friendly.

Wanda Bergman May 7, 2014, 12:28 pm

One item I’d really like to have from Duluth is the Women’s No Sweat Longtail T Waffle Hoodie.

Krys Cail May 7, 2014, 12:14 pm

Very kind of you to reconfigure things so that they look good on the smart phones…. so many pages are really hard to read on a phone, and they don’t need to be! Thanks.

Lynn May 7, 2014, 11:30 am

Reading on my phone right now – so I definitely appreciate the mobile friendly design!! Awesome giveaway too!

Carol Eichler May 7, 2014, 10:23 am

Sounds like a lot of work but we readers will reap the benefit. Thank you. Hey, I’m going to be in (or through) Duluth in a few weeks. A first for me – it’s supposed to be amazing on Lake Superior’s shores. Now back to my spring gardening tasks!

Nicole Pierce May 7, 2014, 9:38 am

Love the visuals. Very thorough explanation. Look forward to learning more.

Lita Sollisch May 7, 2014, 8:01 am

My son created a wood door which leads you to a rock garden on one side and a dilemma as to a design for the opposing side. Too many choices, but can’t make the all important one. Help!

Barb Follis May 6, 2014, 9:36 pm

I enjoy your website. Live in Northern ‘Wisconsin and any information on cold climate gardening is a plus. Also glad Duluth Trading is back home and a few doors down from where I work.

Lynn May 6, 2014, 9:06 pm

Great redesign! And thank you for the nice point by point decision process. My sad blog so needs an overhaul…hmm…

Victoria May 6, 2014, 8:30 pm

The new design looks fantastic! Great job.

Alana May 6, 2014, 6:11 pm

I read a number of blogs on my smartphone on my lunchtime at work, so this is a big plus for me – along with having a larger font. As for what I would like to order from Duluth – those shirts that cover a man’s “plumber area” because some nameless wonderful man in my life – um, needs shirts like that.

kris at trench (and Blithewold) May 6, 2014, 4:45 pm

Kathy, I would change my blog’s theme/skin every week if I didn’t think that might be weird. But I also love rearranging furniture and playing musical perennials… Your redesign works really well and looks like a keeper!

Layanee May 6, 2014, 4:28 pm

Such fun. I still read on the ‘puter’ but it still looks good.

Joanne Toft May 6, 2014, 11:28 am

Love that transfer to tablet and phone. Perfect! I love the four boxes at the bottom. Upstate NY events, Recent Comments, Cold Climate Blogs and Top Posts and Pages. Great organization.

Yes to Duluth Trading company. I would love to win. I was just in Duluth a few weeks ago eyeing a new pack but held back. If I win I could order it! Thanks for the great gardening information.

Mary Ann Newcomer May 6, 2014, 11:01 am

Bigger pictures, larger type. And you know I love the Rebel Mouse page! As for Duluth Trading? I adore their gear bags. xo

Debra Prinzing May 6, 2014, 9:12 am

Impressive Kathy! I love your redesign AND appreciate the way you walk me through the choices. LARGER TYPE is a bonus – I should make that change, too. Plus, I just love the white space and how it balances so nicely with the palette of basil green and that dark reddish accent. Wow! Debra

Vicki @ Playin' Outside May 6, 2014, 8:59 am

Always amazing, I believe this is your best yet. As you say, it’s much, much easier to read on a smartphone. Love the back page, too, making it hard to choose my favorite part of the redesign.

Alison May 6, 2014, 8:40 am

You’re so smart to redesign your blog for all these reasons, but I especially like that you figured out how to make it look better on a smartphone. I wouldn’t have a clue where to begin with all that. I also love the bigger pictures!

Kathy Sturr of the Violet Fern May 6, 2014, 8:19 am

I have to say BIGGER pictures! It’s all about the pictures. Those flowers and garden scenes need to be sensed, walked into. I remember my terror in switching from Blogger to WordPress but I did it – wish I would have known about Build Your Own Business Website – I will be checking them out, thank you. I really need to work on my wardrobe, too. Crossing my fingers!

bobbi May 6, 2014, 8:04 am

Just started reading your blog in the old format, this one is great. To a job well done!!

Cindy, MCOK May 6, 2014, 7:44 am

Great format! I’m sure I could find something at Duluth that the Head Gardener needs!

Nancy France May 6, 2014, 7:30 am

It looks and functions wonderfully on my smartphone!

Alex Solla May 6, 2014, 6:34 am

I think revamping your website is a great idea. You are brave and courageous, taking it on at this time of year. I try to save any web-work for the dead of winter when I cant get outside to plant stuff. Thanks for turning me on to Wordpress!

Gail May 6, 2014, 6:23 am

The new format looks great…I will take a look at it with my mobile phone. I would love to win the Duluth Trading Company gift card!

Stephanie May 6, 2014, 6:19 am

I am a gardening addict living in zone 3 northern Minnesota. I am grateful to have found you, and love reading the blogs! I read the blogs on my smartphone, so the upgrade is great.

Carol May 6, 2014, 6:03 am

Looks great, Kathy. You “done good” as they say.

Donna@GardensEyeView May 6, 2014, 5:40 am

Kathy I spotted the redesign the last time I visited. While it looks almost the same, it was a cleaner easier view and version in one line. I am enjoying exploring the blog and hopefully those videos.

Duluth is a great company…that would be a fun gift to win.

Izzy Yengel May 6, 2014, 2:44 am

I do love the new, easier to read, easier to navigate format and that INCREDIBLE blue iris nearly knocked me out of my chair when I saw it! Must find that one soon! Congratulations on the new updated look!

Erin May 6, 2014, 12:02 am

I love the re-design: the new format does make it easier to get to some of the older content. I like how you collected some links in the ‘Cottage Gardens’ section–that kind of reading is just up my alley.