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Went to Create Day

Replied to IndieWeb Create Day (events.indieweb.org)

Join us in the IndieWeb chat and in our Zoom room. Share ideas, create & improve our personal websites, and build upon each other’s creations. Whether you’re a creator, writer, blogger, coder, designer, or just someone who wants to improve their presence on the web, all skill and experience levels welcome. Breakout rooms available for those who want to collaborate on the same topic.

I don’t celebrate, so spending Christmas Day making something for my website sounded like fun! I decided to transform a website mockup I designed in October into reality. I’m planning to self-publish a book next year, so I needed a much more attractive website for my pen name than the generic theme I threw on it when I spun it up.

I started off browsing through WordPress themes. FFS, there has got to be a better way to pick themes than reading random articles titled “Best WordPress themes of 2021”. It’s so much work to pick a good theme! On top of evaluating the aesthetics, I look at when it was last updated, how many active users there are, and any red flags in the reviews and support. The demos are often for the paid version (since I was planning to do my own CSS styling I didn’t want to pay for a theme) and also often use layout plugins, so there are usually false starts. This time I was looking for a layout similar to my mockup as a starting point that would make it easy for me to style.

At first I picked the Kale theme, a food theme, but when I looked into it more it had custom recipe formatting, and I worried that it would come loaded with a ton of cruft. I finally decided not to overthink it and use the popular theme Astra. It has a lot of out-of-the-box customization options in the WordPress Customize feature (which also seems to mean that it comes with a lot of built-in junk, like predefined colors). I’ve realized I need the CMS to actually be willing to update my website all the time, but I miss the early days of beautiful clean code (I mean, as beautiful as you could get hacking workarounds for IE6 πŸ˜‚).

I started by customizing everything I could using the Customizer settings, then added custom CSS. The preview function is super helpful — I recall back in the day just having my FTP open, uploading change after change and refreshing to see whether I’d finally gotten the code right πŸ˜„ You can also toggle between desktop, tablet and mobile views. My mockup covered all three, but the most complex version is the desktop so I had to add more @media specific css to get that to work out.

I got to a place pretty similar to my mockup at the end of the day, and now have some tinkering to do… and also some more writing, because it’s a pretty barebones shell of a site at the moment πŸ˜‚

Nice to have GWG and Angelo’s company for a day of creating! I definitely would have bailed earlier if I wasn’t with other people. I logged on around 10ish and we stayed till 5:30 or so, with a lunch break. I really appreciate the concept of a Create Day to push forward on projects, because otherwise I get distracted by other things that seem more urgent. It’s also a great reminder of how much you can get done in a single day.

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at tracy.durnell@gmail.com. She/her.

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