Any blogger will tell you that keeping your site updated and overflowing with interesting content for your readers is a LOT of hard work. To then find time to tweak the colours, add a new feature or give your site a complete facelift is for the most people a pipe dream. Unless of course you can a) afford it or b) actually learn how to do the work yourself.
I guess I fall into the middle somewhere in that I can somewhat afford it but am also pretty clever with this WordPress development stuff that I’d rather do it myself. And that of course brings us back to the time problem, it’s a never-ending loop of misery if you ask me.
Somehow through all of this I’ve found the time (7 months in the making) to deliver on version 3.0 of The Aussie Nomad. The sites been running the new look for a week now but given 90% of the work was under the hood so to speak you probably haven’t noticed all that much, so let me explain.
In blogging/geek/whatever speak that only my blogging friends may understand The Aussie Nomad used to run on the Thesis Framework with custom designing done for me by a third-party. Thesis was starting to get a bit long in the tooth and updates were few and far between. When an update finally did come to life I wasn’t that impressed and to even use it I’d have to get the site re-designed anyway.
So I went looking for a better way of doing things and landed myself with the Canvas theme from WooThemes. It’s updated regularly, is filled with fancy features and the support guys will actually talk to you on twitter if you tweet nicely.
With a new theme decided on I set about making my site look like it always did, in pretty Vegemite colours. Looking at the site there is only a couple of tell-tale changes that give notice to something being changed. Otherwise for the most part its business as usual and considering its been live all week and nobody noticed I guess I made the swap as pain-free as possible.
A new theme that looks just like the old one is hardly cause for a blog post I hear you say. A fair point, so I’ve added in some bonus features along the way to make the site a little more engaging and useful to you the reader. Thus I give to you the biggest additions to date, the Real Time Blogging Wall and the Post Archive Travel Map.
If any of you follow a good mate of mine and owner of travmonkey.com then you’d guess that my real time wall is a fair copy of his Live Blogging project. It’s a grand idea and one that brings a new dimension to blogging, one that I wanted for myself. Now you can follow me in real time as I travel the world updating you on my location, show off pictures from what I’m seeing and share what I’m thinking on twitter and facebook.
The other addition, the Blog Post Travel Map is an idea all of my own. I find browsing blogs via search box’s and navigation mentions tedious and outright annoying at times. I know the content I’m looking for but do you think I can find it? Not wanting people to think that of my travel blog I’ve gone and embedded all of my blog posts (well most of them it a lot of work) onto one giant Google map.
Now you can zoom, click and explore without ever having to lay a finger on your keyboard. I’ll be expanding the content on the map over time and growing some extra features as they are needed, but for now I’m rather proud of my little creating so I hope you’ll have a play and tell me what you think.
Lastly if you happen to be reading this via your mobile or tablet then the experience should be somewhat improved. The site is now fully mobile friendly (I hope) meaning no weird display issues or tiny unreadable text to get in the way of your user experience.
I’ve lots more plans for version 4.0 but I figure this is a good start and hope you find the new features useful in some way. I’ll leave you to browse the site and if you feel generous I’d love to know what you think by leaving a comment below.
Congrats Chris. A lot of hardwork, but some amazing stuff here. We love the Real Time blogging wall. Great work!
Hey, the new digs look super sharp! I like it. The map of posts is a great idea too. Keep on truckin!
Hey Shawn long time no speak. Thanks for having a look and yeah I think the map will even make it easier for me to find my own content
Just wondering, with the post map did you use the WP geo big map plugin or something you made yourself? I’m looking to do something like this as well
Hi Jade, I’d looked at plugins in the past to do a similar thing but none of them seemed to work 100% and do the job I’d wanted so I made this all up myself.
I took a short-cut to get a similar map – by using an embedded Google MyMap, but it doesn’t look as good as yours because it isn’t easy to control the formatting using the google map editor.
Hi Adam, it hooks into the google maps api and I’ve got boxes on the add/edit post page in WordPress that allow me specify a location for each post. The page then draws itself by loading data stored on my site so as long as I tag the post when I create it everything else is done for me.
Thanks Pete, it was a lot of work and a few late nights but also a lot of fun to work on.
Very cool addition to the site Chris, it’s a great idea.
Thanks Ayngelina it was a lot of fun to create in my own geeky way 🙂
Real time blogging wall will be interesting. Very curious how this works out and how much interaction you get from this.
Jeremy I look at it as a way to bring more to the where am I now widget that I’ve seen on other blogs and use as a selling tool when pitching trips as it can add a more real time element to it.
It’s a page I can refer people to that is a collaboration of my social platforms for people who may not use them all.
AWESOME!! Love the new additions. Can’t wait to see how these work. The wheels are turning
Wow Chris. Loving the new additions to the site. They are amazing!
The google map post idea is a fantastic one, and same with the live blogging wall. If I ever get time to work on my site I might have to pick your brain about ideas like these 😉
Your not kidding – building, and updating a WP site (all learning as you go along) is exhausting as well as actually trying to travel and write blog posts at the same time!
That post archive map is genius! Wish you turned it into a WordPress plugin. I like the transparency that you offer people.