It seemed only fair after I doled out all that advice yesterday, I should show you the money. I’m going to throw down my author’s website, software and apps I use, as well as design thoughts and more.
As I mentioned yesterday, TheHusband suggested I keep my author site separate from Exit, Pursued by a Bear (where you’re located at now) and my librarian site. I agreed. However, since I am going to have three sites to maintain, they all need to be consistent and relate to each other in some fashion.
A couple of years ago, I designed business cards using the image of three year old me holding a phone as the main graphic, which was also the main header image at EPbaB for a long time. The cards were a huge success when I handed them out and people easily remembered who I was later on. Since it was time to make new cards, I expanded on that idea and decided to use the same concept across my sites.
(If you click on the images, it will open up a new tab with a larger image for greater detail.)
Exit, Pursued by a Bear – Online Journal (Theme: Mon Cahier child)
Cunning Tales From A Systems Librarian – Librarian Site (Theme: Elucidate)
Lisa Rabey – Writer (Theme: Arcade Basic)
The only site I’m not 100% happy with is my librarian site, which I will futz more with later. There are also couple of other things I can do to make all three sites more cohesive, but the idea is there and I like where this is going. The Lisa Rabey Empire is coming to fruition!
Now that I know how I’m branding the author site, I played with the freely available themes at WordPress until I found one that would work for my needs and required as little hacking as possible.
ProTip: I exported a year’s worth of entries from EPbaB and imported them into the test site to see how the theme handled a wide variety of posts and formating.
I looked for a theme that allowed: Custom header, adding breadcrumbs easily, two column so I could have a sidebar, and top navigation bar that wouldn’t get lost when you scrolled. I like white backgrounds with no textures, and I wanted something that was eye popping. It also had to work mobilized via the Jetpack for WordPress plugin. I settled on Arcade Basic.
ProTip: As someone who likes things quick and to the point, Jetpack for WordPress is one of the best plugins you could install and make your life insanely easy. I know a lot of my more advanced WordPress/coding friends are not a fan of this plugin for a variety of reasons, but as someone who wants no fuss, no muss and ease to use? This thing is a godsend.
When you land at my author’s site, you see a young Lisa with her pops as the landing graphic. There is a top navigation bar for home, bio, fiction, other writing, blog, and contact. Here is all the basic information I mentioned yesterday clearly listed and easy to find.
In the middle of the landing page is a box that says See More. When you click on it, it jumps down to the second half of the landing page where there is additional content (there is also a scroll bar in the right hand side if you want to use that instead).
ProTip: I’m not crazy about the wording of “see more” so I may just change it to something else, which will be easy enough.
Excuse my rudimentary Photoshop.
The navigation bar stayed in place when we hopped down the page, which is why even though I know a lot of people hate these giant graphic landing pages, I loved this one because you don’t lose your navigation.
The main content box is a quick about me / this site. There is also a search box, social media links, and a news feed.
ProTip: Having learned my lesson trying to maintain blogs across variety of sites, I found a work around that allows me to keep this site looking like it’s constantly updated without stress by using the Appearance->Widgets->RSS widget within WordPress. Every category and tag in WordPress has its own RSS feed, so I can pull a specific feeds to show up in this particular widget box. There is no limit to the number of RSS widgets you can use. For the news widget, I mark all my writing stuff under the “writing” category on EPbaB and the feed is pushed on the author site. I do the same thing on the my librarian site, under recent posts in the sidebar, which has its own category for the very same reason.
To recap: I write everything on EPbaB and the RSS feed for a specific category are fed to specific sites based on feed name. If people are interested in the whole shebang of the blog, they can click on blog in the top navigation.
I wanted two columns because I need the ability to add/remove things as necessary for whatever reason without losing the main content box or forcing people to scroll to the bottom. When I get a newsletter up and running, books to buy, or whatever, it will go in the right hand side bar. Additionally, Jetpack has a feature that allows you to show certain widgets on certain types of pages for more customization.
Tomorrow we’re going to look at the main navigation and why I set it up this way, child pages, what’s left to do on my author site, and base plugins you should use for your WordPress site.
P.S. As my author site is not live quite yet, but I do link to it, so if you find a broken link, that’s why.
This day in Lisa-Universe: