As I looked over my blog after reading about visual hierarchy I have to admit, my first thought was:


I like this blog. I think it looks good and serves the purpose that it was intended for. I’m not changing a thing.

But of course, growth mindset and all that jazz, I needed to dig into the little things and start analyzing how I could make it better. One of my biggest frustrations with the blog is that I feel very constrained by the options of the WordPress editor and various themes we have available to us. After the first week of orientation, I landed on the Anew theme because it seemed to have the cleanest looking options and styles, and I really liked its sidebar options.

So I started looking at my site and discovered a few things that certainly could use some tweaking.

Cosmetic Tweaks

1. Wonky Header Image

Before

My header image never seemed to fit right. I had tried to make the background a nice blue that complimented the ocean, but I was never really happy with the result. I decided that a white background would be better, and also discovered a setting called “Boxed Layout” that limits the size of the header to the width of the content below. With the click of a box, all was well in the world.

2. Colour Palette Shift

In line with my earlier decision of a white background, I felt that my blue accents weren’t providing enough contrast on the page, and creating a soft look. I wanted a cleaner sharper feel to the site so I changed the top menu and all accent colours to black. The only blue I couldn’t eliminate was the Twitter feed, but that’s a feature I definitely want to keep so I’ll let it slide.

3. Missing Featured Images

In my sidebar, there were certain posts in the recent posts list that didn’t have a key image displayed. This was an oversight on my part, but also somewhat linked to issue number 4. Adding in a key image for each post was an easy fix and it made my sidebar more visually appealing.

4. Better Preview Displays

Breaking up text and drawing a reader’s attention with images seems obvious, but I noticed that a couple of my recent posts just looked like essays in their previews. This was partly fixed by adding in key images to the posts, as the key image can be displayed above each post. I also stopped using the default excerpt length so that I could choose what text and images were shown in the preview by just adding a “More” block into the post.

And here’s what it looked like after…

Writing Tweaks

As I was looking through my blog, I was revisiting my old posts and cringing at some of the things I’ve written. Moving forward, I’ll be making more of an effort to take into account some of the wisdom from Cynthia Marinakos’s How We Read Online (and 6 skills every web writer needs to master):

  • Using more active voice
  • Including more micro-content in my posts (like this!)
  • Using quotes and subheadings to chunk my posts

Pipe Dreams

In the long run, I plan to transfer this blog over to a more stable and flexible ecosystem. I understand the need for COETAIL to constrain the themes and changes that we can make to our blogs, but it’s almost laughable that there is an entire assignment on making them a better user experience when the tools that are provided by the COETAIL owned WordPress sites are so limited. This change would let me among other things:

  • Select a more flexible theme
  • More smoothly embed things like Twitter (though I think others had even more trouble than I did in this department)
  • Have more control over the layout and formatting of the site