Starting the New Year with a new site

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Over the past few weeks, I’ve made some changes to this website. My goal for this site has been to provide content, ideas and real-life examples of technology that can help small businesses.

I’m hoping the changes made will provide even more help.

In general, here are the tweaks – both big and small – I made over the past few weeks:

  • The theme was updated
  • Added an @wiljr Stories series
  • Will be adding an interview series
  • Added a ‘Community‘ section
  • Will likely be updating the back-end shortly

The change
Change is always hard, so why do it?

In this case, I’m trying to learn a bit more about online interactions. I dig building communities – both online and offline – and I’m always looking for why certain things work.

I have a feeling I’ll be learning quite a bit over the next few weeks and months.

Also, I wanted to do more with this site. I’ve had this domain and site for a long time, and it’s grown with me. It’s attracted a bit of attention, and I think I’d like to explore that a bit.

Finally, I’m really trying to write more, no matter my location, and this is the spot where all that content ends up. Doing some back-end cleanup will make that process a little simpler for me (and easier for you).

Oh, and there’s this SOPA/GoDaddy dialog going on right now. I’ve been using GoDaddy for quite some time and I’m struggling with the rationale to move.

The challenges
The biggest challenge, for me at least, was to keep the site simple. For you and for me. Simple to navigate. Simple to post. Simple to reach. Simple to share. Simple to digest. Simple.

Finding the *right* theme is time-consuming. In this case, I wanted to graduate to a for-pay theme for this site.

For-pay themes let you do a lot more customization and configuration; they generally make it easier to brand the site the way you envision. Free themes don’t always have this flexibility, which is definitely ok.

I decided against a for-pay theme this time around but did go with a template from WooThemes, one of the better theme builders around (there are many).

Finally, planning is always a challenge. During the holidays, it’s a little easier since there’s less demand for time. But, um, it’s the holidays.

In addition to finding the time, there’s a lot of due diligence in finding which theme support which plugins/widgets/content. Then there’s the whole back-end thing. Depending on what you’re moving/upgrading, it can take on a life of its own.

The result
So far so good. It’s only been a short while since the update but the process has been smooth. The view from the back end hasn’t changed much either, which is great. Traffic-wise, it’s tough to tell since we’re in the middle of the holidays.

I’ll post more updates as the site gets more mature.

Your thoughts?

(Oh – Happy New Year!)

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