A MAKEOVER

The definition of a makeover is ‘a complete transformation of the appearance of someone or something’.

As many of you might have noticed the recent something that underwent a makeover this week is my blog! A task I’ve wanted to tackle for ages, however I was apprehensive and hence procrastinated.

Would the whole blog disappear if a mistake was made? Maybe all the wonderful comments would erroneously be deleted? The calamities surrounding the possible makeover seemed insurmountable!

To the rescue came my son, a university computer science student, and when he heard my thoughts (and my fears) he promptly offered to help — the very next day!

Yikes! My musings to combine my blog with an author website was finally going to see the light of day.

Where to start?

Where else but the fantastic community of WordPress which I had explored over some months. I’d collated various articles by bloggers and two particularly were ones I referred to over and over again.

Natalie Ducey is not only a wonderful poet and graphic designer; she also prepares the most informative posts about all aspects of blogging. Were it not for her encouragement I would not even have considered the possibility of updating my website.

Through her, I learnt how to download new fonts and how to use them. My ‘signature’ here is in a font I found via her blog and is called ‘Saturday’. The background element upon which it rests is one I bought upon her suggestion. I love its calm and tranquil feeling, reminiscent both of the sea and sky.

Next came the matter of a new theme. I learned that my old theme, Sela, had retired — hopefully with a good pension! Hugh Roberts, a writer and prolific blogger provides super blogging tips at Hugh’s Views and News.

One of his posts featured WordPress themes and he listed some of his favourites. I looked at many of these and finally settled upon one which seemed best to suit my purposes. The theme of my website is called ‘Lovecraft’ and is free to use from WordPress.

Although at one stage I had a tag line underneath my blog, I had taken this away as it no longer reflected me or my work. Tag lines are key to describing you, your website or blog within just a few words, to win the attention of readers and hopefully retain their interest. After considering all the terrific comments about my books, stories and posts I realised two elements within my life stood out and influenced my written works. I feel I captured this within the final tag line of:

‘A writer influenced by her Swedish heritage and Yorkshire upbringing.’

As the deadline for the revamp approached I sketched out a welcome message, organised my book reviews in a document and found the appropriate images and photographs.

The day arrived and my son and I sat down at my computer!

Switching the theme was frighteningly easy but until the button was clicked I nervously kept asking was he sure this was okay? Would I lose anything? By the third reassurance and my hand hovering over the mouse he took affirmative action, borrowed the mouse and clicked the button!

Yeah! My website was on its way to a full makeover! The title and tag line were set to a large font. A custom background colour was selected from the palette and the gentle lavender harmonised all the elements within the website.

Next, there was so much to consider we ended up making a list.

The biggest change was my ‘Welcome’ introduction post. I wanted something brief, engaging and with my photo which was to be pinned to the top of the website. All was achieved — I just hadn’t realised it would be published as a post! As this was more of an informative introduction to the website the comments were removed. Searching Google my son found that the removal of likes and sharing was in the jetpack icon on the top right of the WordPress draft post. An icon I have never even touched before!

Next headings were created and my son set up sub-headings; something I’ve always longed to do and which have impressed when I’ve seen them on other blogs.

Of course, the headings had to lead to something.

For my books and their reviews we made new pages (and to activate these, one needs to click ‘publish’ but fear not, these are not published as a post!)

Last year I finally had managed to add a ‘Contact’ form but only via my ‘About’ page and it was not ideal. As if by magic my son transferred the previous ‘About & Contact’ into HTML, copied the code for the ‘Contact’ form. Once again I had a neater looking ‘About’ page and he quickly set up a new ‘Contact’ heading and page.

As for the sidebar, several elements have been taken away as I felt the website would benefit from a more streamlined and ultimately decluttered appearance.

One issue we discovered was my sprinkling of categories in my previous posts which makes it tricky to settle on just a handful of ‘Blog Topics’ for the drop-down menu. In my early days of blogging, I had no real understanding of categories and liberally made new ones, even for just one obscure subject! These will not be captured by the new headings. Furthermore, some had different types of spellings, eg. Short Stories and short stories, writings, Writings and writing! The only solution is that over time I will edit the categories on my older posts to make them more inclusive.

I’m sure there is yet much more that needs tweaking but in the meantime, I am proud to present to you my new and updated website. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about its creation. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask … and I will pass on the queries to my son! Many thanks to him for all his hard work and patience!

Finally, a shameless shoutout for my musical son Sammy and his Youtube channel. Here he features over 80 of his piano covers, as well as his own compositions and own piano sheet music. For his latest venture, he is taking commissions for sheet music which he creates himself. If there is a piece you, your family or friends long to play but can’t find the sheet music do not hesitate and contact Sammy directly at sammy2580@hotmail.com

And at last, a brief reminder of my two books available via Amazon or myself.