Planning My Own Website

I want to redesign this site and take the opportunity to get to know WordPress block theme development a bit better. The tools are in a really good place right now so it seems like a good time to do it.

So I cracked open Affinity Designer to start exploring typography and colour styles with a loose idea of what I wanted. I got about a hour into it before realising why I wasn’t happy with anything I’d put together… I’d skipped all the planning! Strange how you sometimes skip vital steps in the process when it’s for yourself!

So I took a step back and thought about what I want from this site. Originally I thought that this would be my personal blog and I would spin up another site on a different domain with a more professional focus. But with hindsight I don’t really want the overhead of managing two sites for myself, let alone trying to write content for two sites.

I’m not really on social media anymore, having given up on the Facebook cesspool years ago, I recently stopped going on Twitter as well following Elon Musk’s takeover and subsequent shit storm.

With these things in mind, I want somewhere I can publish professional articles about web things as well as personal updates like the sort of stuff I would have posted on social media if I still used any. I’ve partially been inspired by indie web ideals and concepts like OpenPress.

With those goals defined, I started planning out site architecture and content structure in MindNode (one of my favourite apps for planning). It was pretty simple to figure out once I decided on my goals for this site.

Screenshot from the MindNode app of a site structure outline hierarchy.

I decided to make the most of the WordPress taxonomy system as much as possible, because it’s the simplest way to organise content. I want all of my posts to be available on the /blog/ route, regardless of type.

Then I’m using categories to group posts based on their type.

  • Updates are shorter posts that could be about anything. These would be similar to something I might post on social media. They could be short or longer and be about anything I’m interested in.
  • Articles will be longer form content with a professional focus. So they will mostly be about the web, design & development.
  • Reflections was inspired by Dan Mall’s homepage. He updates his homepage each month with a “letter” reflecting on what the current month will bring. I really like this idea and can replicate it fairly easily by writing it as a post in its own category that can be queried and displayed within page templates.
  • Featured will be used just for Articles to give me a way to pull out the best ones and display them together.

By using categories like this, I can query the content types easily within a page template. So say I wanted to display the full content of the latest Reflection post and a grid of Featured Articles on the homepage; that’s two query loops with different criteria that can be styled individually.

I may also style the category archive page for Updates as a social media-type feed. Maybe something like Adam Argyle’s site which is styled as a social feed.

Tags will be used to group content across categories by topic.

With this structure in place it should hopefully make it easy for any visitors I might get to discover content they’re interested in.

Aside from the posts content, there are a handful of content pages that I’d like to include, like a /uses/ page, which has become popular to include on web professionals’ websites in recent years.

I am going to make a slight change to post URLs. At the time of writing, my permalink settings don’t prefix post URLs with a route. So they’re{post-slug}. I do like this as it results in a shorter URL, but it also grates on me a little because it’s not very RESTful.

In my mind, URLs should also group like content together (in a RESTful way). So going forward I’m going to change post URLs to live under the /blog/ route, e.g.{post-slug}. This has the added benefit that if I ever want to rebuild this site using a different platform or framework, all my posts are grouped by URL already and I won’t have to handle as many redirects.

Having gone through this process, I’ve had more ideas about what I want my site design to be because I know what kind of content I want to publish. I also really geek out over site architectures, even simple ones, so this post has kind of been a big mind dump geek session on some of my thought process while planning out my redesign.

I had to go through all of this to really figure out what I want from my own site. I’m pretty excited by the possibilities, now I just need to make it happen!