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Helen’s Blog Updates 10 May 2010

Posted by Not JCVD in Design, Development.

My blog, A Bottle in Front of Me, uses the theme Tropicala by Goro Harumi. I selected this theme for the customizable header image, two-column format with the sidebar on the left, sans-serif font, the white text background, and the orange headings (my favorite color, though I know I can change it if I like). Overall, the design struck me as very clean.

I was eager to get my blog off the ground, so I’ve already made a few changes. I reduced the leading, as I thought there was too much space between the lines. I also added my own picture to the header, and expanded the width of the header’s text (with the help from a software engineer coworker), since it previously wrapped. Firebug has proven itself to be extraordinarily helpful in recognizing where the issue lies within the CSS.

I’ve also added the following plug-ins:

  • Stats: to track page views and other metrics– see how many people are actually reading it.
  • YouTube Brackets: will be extremely helpful for embedding videos, especially on those days where I don’t feel like blogging but still want to put up some content.
  • Wickett Twitter Widget, though I’m torn between it and widget available on the Twitter website. Twitter’s widget is more customizable and includes a handle’s avatar, while Wickett better matches the typography and overall design of the blog. However, Wickett bugs me because the text is blue while the links are gray– very counter-intuitive. Therefore, I currently have Twitter’s widget on my site rather than Wickett.
  • I’m considering the Beer Mapping badge, since it is a beer blog, though I don’t currently use the Beer Mapping site.

In addition, I’ve included a few of WordPress’ built-in widgets in the sidebar, allowing me to display the YouTube video I created last semester, the blog’s RSS feed, and a Creative Commons license.

My next steps are going to be to continue to look for plug-ins, as I’m sure there are others out floating around in cyberspace that could be useful, though at this point I am really not sure what I need; I’d like to keep the design as simple as possible, so I will only add what will improve the content from the back end. I hope to make Wickett better fit my vision for the site, since overall I like what it adds over Twitter’s widget.

I’m thinking about darkening the lettering a bit; while I find the theme’s font visually appealing, its shade of grey is possibly bordering on too faint. My audience is probably going to just be my parents, both in their sixties, and I’m guessing the current hue will strain their eyes too much.

Finally, I’m certainly not using the sidebar to its full potential; the content there has been thrown together, and needs better organization and more thought. That’s maybe more of a content issue than a design issue, though integrating social media into the sidebar is critical.

Your suggestions for improvement are very welcome.


1. Summary : WordPress Themes & Plugins « Web Tools For The Digital World - 12 May 2010

[…] Helen : A Bottle in Front of Me (Tropicala, several plugins) […]

2. Summary : WordPress Themes & Plugins « COM585 - 13 September 2011

[…] Helen : A Bottle in Front of Me (Tropicala, several plugins) […]

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