Wednesday, March 6, 2013

TechWire site: Design refresh, migration to WordPress

I've been quiet, since life has been quite loud, quite a lot happening, most of it good.

A notable project, and a good recent experience, was improving TechWire's (my employer, and a good company to work at indeed) site. It involved migration from Joomla (1.5 is way too old now) to WordPress, and a handy redesign.

I wrote a brief article about the migration to WordPress and redesign experience on the site itself — you can check that, yet I'd like to share some personal thoughts. A couple of months after launch I still like how it looks, so that's a good sign.




My main thought right now is how to optimise routine tasks. There are a lot of those that are repeated site to site, app to app, and these used to take a lot (if not most) of the time. Yet after gaining some proficiency in HTML / CSS / JavaScript (not a genius yet, but I have my bearings in most cases), I quite enjoy using frameworks and shortcuts of various kinds to speed up my process, while getting an even better result.

The danger in doing this without enough understanding is that, well, you won't understand what's happening. Wait till you need to fix it when something goes wrong — you'll know what I mean. So I recommend (myself, as well as anyone who cares to listen) to start learning without frameworks — if you can afford the time (though learning from a framework is a good idea!). Then you can moving to use a framework when you know you can do it yourself.

So, in case of this site I attempted to use as much as possible of the native WordPress theme (it is a framework of sorts too, isn't it?), (un)helpfully named “Twenty Twelve”, making just enough changes to make the site look our own. I believe WordPress provides a very good foundation for this kind of approach.

As a brief aside, I still do like Joomla, and I love (love!) Drupal, yet sometimes they are just too powerful for the task. Not a good idea to be struggling with a tool instead of solving the problem itself.

So, yes, this was a good experience. Right now I am getting more intimate with Bootstrap, and, even though it seemed overhyped and overused, it is actually very good. I am developing both a site (WordPress too) and a web-app UI prototype using it (good to have a couple of projects going in parallel, for idea-recycling), and get fine results with it. I hope to share more when I am done.

What tools do you use to speed up your work (while not losing quality)? Or you always start from scratch? It is hard to believe, actually.

Share your thoughts in the comments, I'll be thankful.

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