Finished jbutewicz.com. Home of my travel and programming adventures

I’ve been messing around with some web development lately and figured it would be good to build a personal page for myself to get some experience and post about my programming adventures. I also wanted to do this to build a travel blog to keep people at home up to date with my travels (hi mom!).

As for content of the site, I wanted to keep it pretty simple. I wanted a nice homepage to invite the user. I wanted a blog to house my travel and programming adventures that I could easily update. Having a mobile interface to update content might be useful. I wanted to include an about me page to introduce myself to the user. I wanted to include my resume that could be downloaded in word or pdf incase anyone is interested to look at what I’ve done previously. I wanted a contact page with a list of my social links, Twitter, GitHub for my code, my apps in Google Play store, etc. I wanted everything to be clean and modern and be responsive and work on different devices. And having no ads was important for me because I generally hate the ad model as a source of revenue (because we put ads everywhere in life, even if they don’t achieve a reasonable return on investment for the ad agency or the company advertising), especially on a site like this.

When looking at what technologies to use, it was a pretty easy choice to go with WordPress. WordPress is used by so many websites. It powers somewhere between 20-25% of websites. Since a big portion of my site would be blog posts, it made a lot of sense to go with it.

Installing WordPress on a server is simple. I was pretty surprised with just how simple it is. Usually setting up a new platform can take hours of downloading, installing, and configuring, but WordPress really lives up to the 5-minute install time that they advertise.

Customizing a WordPress site is pretty easy too. Between the different themes, plugins, and the enormous community, you can quickly find and implement a solution to whatever you want to do that does not come bundled with the initial install. I was actually hoping there would be a lot more messing around with html, css, javascript, and php but there wasn’t too much. The general simplicity and ease of use of WordPress is great because I was able to build my site quickly but a bummer because I didn’t get the learning experience I was looking forward to.

As for choosing a theme I opted for taking the twenty fourteen theme that WordPress provides and customized it. WordPress releases a new theme every year. I wanted to use their theme as a starting point because it will eventually provide the user a sense of familiarity. Users will see the twenty fourteen design throughout the internet and it will feel natural for them to view my site. I generally liked the fonts, which were fairly modern looking. Things that I disliked about the theme was the overuse of black (I disliked most of the color scheme) and the narrow width of the paged at 474 pixels. I also disliked some of the confusing structure of the theme that didn’t make much sense to me. I changed most of the black to white and opened the page up for desktop users to 741 pixels and cleared out some of the complex structure.

Initially the theme looks like this.

Confusing and bad colors, but has potential
Confusing and bad colors, but has potential

I wanted to brighten things up with a green and white theme. I spent way too much time go back and forth with design, color palettes, and researching which colors were popular and fit the site that I was trying to build. If anyone out there is working off of the twenty fourteen theme I my dark green (#2d9185) replaced #24890d, mid green (#31be99) replaced #41a62a, and light green (#0cddbe) replaced #55d737. If you’re interested in any of the css/php changes, etc. then I can send you all the files and let you know specifically what was changed to achieve the styling of my site.

Final colors
Final colors

I wanted to take the site and remove everything to give the content the ability to shine through. I want my users to clearly see the content in a modern and comfortable way. After struggling with designs, I think I smartly removed everything that I could. Things were removed and removed until I couldn’t remove any more. Things that I added were removed. Eventually I got this design, a nod to the tremendously popular white space/flat design craze that is popular. You will see the green of the theme when you use it for helping to highlight and navigate around the site.

Modern and clean
Modern and clean

Although a large amount of my time was spent setting up the style of website, another large amount of my time was spent going and backfilling in some content. I took some pictures from some previous trips/programming work and added them to the site so that there would be content to greet the user. I plan on writing a little more in depth as I am updating posts going forward, but for going back on an entire year of my life I think I provided enough commentary to keep the user interested.

And that’s about it. I have to say WordPress has been a gem to use so far. I would recommend it to anyone building a personal site or one driven by continuously updated content.

With that, welcome to jbutewicz.com!

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