UCalgaryBlogs.ca Redesign


I've been meaning to redesign the main site at UCalgaryBlogs.ca for awhile now - the Edublogs Clean theme isn't intended to be dropped in as a stock theme, but as a starting point for hacking something tailor-made. The Edu-Clean theme is available as part of the fantastic Premium WPMUDev subscription - and it certainly helped me get UCalgaryBlogs.ca off the ground quickly.

Edu-Clean has bugged me because it hijacks the front page by using home.php, rather than using a page template to render the front page. The annoying part of this technique is that it makes it difficult to list blog posts within that site - so news updates posted on the main blog only show up on the "latest posts" widget, and then disappear from sight when they roll off the bottom of the widget.

And, the Edu-Clean theme, while looking fantastic and being very well designed and polished, is really just the Edublogs theme. So, my straight reuse of the graphics and styles was a bit confusing (I had a couple people mention "oh, that's edublogs. I know that." - um. no. it's not, but it's using the same theme... confusing...)

So, today I decided to sit down and hack the best parts of Edu-Clean out, and graft them into a copy of the sweet and flexible Carrington theme.

I'll post a description of what I did, why, and where, but for now it's basically working. It's still very much a work in progress (I'm thinking it's a little busy, but I like the focus on community, content and function rather than marketing). The other nice thing that the use of page templates allows is the WordPress front page setting - I can set the front page to be rendered by a static template, and set the "real" blog to be displayed at another page on the blog - Site News, for example. Much better, IMO.

Here's the previous design, powered by the elegant Edu-Clean theme:

And the redesign, based on Carrington:

I'm certainly no designer, but I like that the featured content is right up front, rather than marketing info about the service. It's also much easier to spot the login info (if not logged in) and stuff you can do (list of your blogs, etc...) without having to scroll down.

I'll be tweaking it, but I think it's a keeper.


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