A Facelift for This Foggy Blog

Note: I switched to Zuki in 2014. Then to Blink and Goodz Magazine in 2016. Then back to Zuki and now Qua in 2017.

As most of you know, I think a lot about the idea of an online home — maintaining a space that makes sense for me — and struggle with blogger’s block (going strong for two years now). I found that design was part of the issue, and a new tumblresque theme on my other blog invited me to post more — quick musings, links and quotes, and “unpolished” material in particular.

But over the past month, I’ve realized that was just the first step, and having two separate blogs — this one for occasional personal essays and that one as a traditional blog — wasn’t quite what I wanted. I’ve carved out profiles and such across social networks, all of which ultimately point visitors here, but keeping two blogs didn’t feel right. While I was blogging again — yay! — I felt fragmented. And while I like a fragmented web in some ways, I don’t like it in the context of my own home.

And so, here’s what I did:

I switched this blog’s theme.

I’d enjoyed the Kent theme, but it was time for a refresh. I switched to Collective, which is designed as a collaborative theme for teams and portfolios. I love its full-width pages and posts, wide header images, the grid-style portfolio template, and its general professional look — I knew I could tweak it to fit my needs.

Aiming for more of a landing page, I created a simple homepage with some of my original About page copy, and included a few widgets in the footer. I’d love to go without any widgets, but I need a search bar (this theme doesn’t have one built in) and a “follow blog” widget, as the location of Collective’s social icons doesn’t work with WordPress.com’s default “Follow” button for non-logged-in folks, both of which display at the bottom right of the page. So, I have a footer with widgets for now, but I want to tinker with the CSS to see what I can do.

I updated my About page as well, with some new background information, but didn’t want it to be too long. Writing a more in-depth bio is challenging — I always feel silly, as we toot our own horns and talk about our accomplishments as if we’ve lived full lives.

I imported the content from my other blog, cherilucasrowlands.com.

I moved all of my posts and pages over from the other blog. It’s an easy process within the dashboard — creating an export file of content, and then uploading it here. I noticed a bit of weirdness with media files — a few random photographs appearing in the wrong posts, which I’ve cleaned up. I also realized after the fact that I only needed my posts, not my pages, while I lost all comments and likes. But still, the process was smooth.

I also moved my other domains — cherilucas.com and cherilucasrowlands.com — to this site, so readers who visit those will be redirected here.

I created a dedicated space for fog-inspired musings.

While Writing Through the Fog is my baby, and a project I’m proud of, it’s no longer my focus. I hardly have time to write. So I went through six years of Writing Through the Fog posts, tagged the ones I really liked with a new category, and then created a tab for this category — “Writing Through the Fog” — in my navigation menu. When I publish personal essays, memoir, and the musings you expect from Writing Through the Fog, you’ll find them here.

I’ve kept posts clean, and updated image sizes on many older posts, which didn’t look right on this theme. I prefer minimal, uncluttered, and full-width templates, so hopefully the reading experience is easy on your eyes.

I set up a blog.

I’ve created a “Blog” tab in my menu as well, where you’ll find everything: Quick posts. Links and quotes. Recommended reading. Experimental material. But also all of the longer pieces I’ll publish, too. Poke around and you’ll see the posts I’d imported, and previous Writing Through the Fog posts as well.

Basically, it’s where everything I publish will go — a traditional stream of blog posts.

I placed my photography posts in a separate stream.

I don’t consider myself a photographer, but rather a writer who always carries her iPhone.

I nixed this line from my About page, but it’s stuck with me, and I wanted to record it here for posterity. I went through all of my photography posts since 2008 and untagged “photography” from the ones I didn’t want to appear in this archive. I then created a new portfolio page template, which the Collective theme supports, specified “photography” as the featured category, and voilà: a shiny grid-style page for my favorite photography posts.

I’m still cleaning things up, and will continue to tweak, so you might see more changes. In the meantime, take a look, and if you see something amiss or have specific feedback, let me know. Thanks!

Published by Cheri Lucas Rowlands

I am an editor at Longreads. For over a decade, I've worked on curation, editing, and storytelling projects across Automattic, including WordPress.com.

17 thoughts on “A Facelift for This Foggy Blog

  1. First, bravo for considering the idea of change. One of the hardest things for human beings.
    Then, for embracing change and creating a whole new design for your blog. When we finally accept the idea of change, many of us still struggle to create “new.”
    Like genusrosa, above, I find the three first lines of your About You very honest and thus very moving. I’m glad you kept the word “fog” because it combines your creative writing process and the Northern California atmosphere.
    It will be a pleasure to meet you in your redesigned home/blog.

  2. I’m currently updating the look of my blog too. It took me the best part of a day to finally choose a theme but it never occurred to me to make it private…thanks for that 🙂

  3. You have been busy, Cheri! I love the redesign – I think this will really work for you. After The Daily Post underwent its makeover I started thinking I might want to change my main blog up sometime in the (probably far) future, and now that you’ve pulled this off here I’m even more antsy. I love how you’ve created a home here – one place where we can find all things CLR – and even though you don’t want widgets, you’ve managed an elegance through the balance and simplicity of the ones you chose. My big question is how do you do a big redesign like this while the blog is still live? Surely this took many days of tinkering and organizing and editing – have y’all written in depth about makeovers on The Daily Post before? I’d be interested in reading about that. Beautifully done, Cheri.

    1. My big question is how do you do a big redesign like this while the blog is still live?

      Ah. I’ll bet there is a better way to go about it, but I just made my blog private overnight — I think it was last Thursday night that I did the big tasks (changed/tweaked the theme, created the categories in the menu and (un)tagged the posts I wanted to include, imported the other content, and went through every post to ensure they looked OK (mainly the images)).

      When I made it public the next morning, I added this to the homepage: “Hello! This site is in the midst of a facelift. Please excuse the mess.” Over the weekend, I tweaked here and there, again mainly looking at all the posts to make sure they looked nice on the new theme. Last night I figured out how to create a portfolio stream (for the photography posts) — which was pretty easy and just a matter of reading the support doc 🙂 So, I activated that.

      Have y’all written in depth about makeovers on The Daily Post before?

      We’ve written about blog makeovers and customization in different ways, but not in-depth, and I don’t think we’ve talked about nuts and bolts stuff like importing content and moving domains in this context. Will ponder a post idea for the future — thanks!

      Glad you like it!

      1. Aha! Those are great ideas. I like the idea of making it private, making the major changes, and then tweaking after it’s live with a note that it’s under construction. That makes the process seem much less daunting. Thanks so much for sharing your process.

  4. This journey has been fascinating–thank you for sharing it. The ‘preoccupation with time, space and memory’ definitely strikes a chord with me. I am squirreling away your ideas and suggestions, even though it seems at the time like I am still blogging and chugging along in a Model T Ford sort of time-lapsed haze…it just takes me time to get my mind around some of the techno bits. I want to evoke a sense of the past with my blog, while drawing–with pictures and layout–on the many gifts of the present technology. So…I love your style, both photography and writing! Very inspiring.

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