Cleaning up my blog cupboard, or why some of us should use idiot guides.

After three hours of working on my blog site, I asked, "What level of hell is this?"
After three hours of working on my blog site, I asked, “What level of hell is this?”

I have a New Year’s Day tradition. Each January 1st I decide to clean out a cupboard; usually my pantry or my spice cupboard, looking for expired dates and unused items. One year, feeling very ambitious, I pulled out all of my plastic ware in order to match the bowls with the lids. Much like disappearing socks, my lids tend to wander to parts unknown. This idea was deceptively easy, yet I spent almost an entire frustrating morning trying to figure out where half of my bowls came from and why they hadn’t bothered to invade my homes with their lids. Rude behavior indeed.

This year would be no different. I wanted to start the new year with clean cupboards yet now that I am child free and don’t bother stocking up like a paranoid prepper, I wasn’t sure which of my already clean and organized cupboards actually needed my attention. If not them, what would be my first “clean up” of 2016?

I’ve already written about how I clean up my TBR bookshelves and get rid of any book that has sat alone for two years. This will come this afternoon, and I am a little sad to report that yes, some books will be removed from lack of attention. So no, this yearly project will have to wait. Tradition, you know!

It hit me last night that I’ve been putting off another deceptively simple project; it has been quite some time since I have cleaned up my blog and pages. As much as I liked my theme, it was limiting and afforded me little opportunity for any real change. This sounded like the right (simple) project to start 2016 with. Those of you who know about WordPress will laugh or groan at my naivety.

Armed with little more than a desire for change and the courage to hit “apply” I set out to reorganize and update my blog. At 5:30am (way too early for sane people) I started reading “helpful” articles on WordPress themes. One stated that it is very easy to organize blog posts into different pages. This I thought was just the thing I needed; I wanted to house my posts into pages, so that all of my Shakespeare posts could be readily available by clicking on the “Shakespeare” page. It turns out I would have been better off trying to re-write his plays. I may have had better luck.

The first thing I had to do was pick a new theme. As I mentioned earlier, mine was old and limited. After numerous previews of different themes, I picked WordPress’s 2016 or as they call it. “Twenty Sixteen”. I liked the color scheme and the ability to have a featured image for each page. I took a deep breath and hit “Apply”.

I was aware I would have to play with the settings or “widgets” as they are known in the blogging world. What surprised me was the limited way in which I could use and set them. My older theme allowed for a more fluid setting, while this new theme only allows users to set them in one sidebar. It took about an hour of playing to make it look right, and about another half hour to figure out how to move my pages list up on the header.

The theme’s description says, “It’s intuitively easy to use” yet here I was, randomly pushing buttons like the preverbal monkey hammering out Shakespeare. Would it take me a thousand years to figure out how to get my blog to look right and more importantly, did I have enough coffee in the house to accomplish this feat?

Finally, around 8:30 and after another round of coffee and inner debate (header or no header, that was the big question) I had it looking okay, a little stark, but I really felt that the old header to be a distraction on my updated pages. If I can figure out how to remove it from my secondary pages (something WordPress says can be done) I will put it back, but I am not sure I will use the old one. This too may be something that goes as 2016 comes in.

Now came the fun part, linking my Shakespeare posts to my new Shakespeare page, just like the article says can be done. I don’t know what universe the article writer lives in, but in this particular universe I learned, this is not a WordPress feature! Oh the article was very clear that “Categories” was the magic wand that linked pages to subjects. It made sense at the time. You simple added a category to a page and selected that category when publishing your latest article.

After another frustratingly long hour of playing “Where is the Category option?” on my secondary pages, I was forced to pick up my copy of WordPress for complete idiots, which was appropriate after four hours of trial and error. It was through this book that I learned I could not accomplish what I wanted, because secondary pages do not have the category option. Ahhhh! Now I felt like a complete idiot for not reading this book first. Sigh…

So, as you can see dear Reader, I have a new look. It’s a work in progress but for now I am going to let sit as is. You, no doubt will let me know what you think. Any tips would be appreciated as well.

Not all is lost. It was an adventure into the world of backend blog administration and reminded me of why I don’t update my site very often. Besides, after this, cleaning off my bookshelf will be a blessing, no idiot guide necessary.

 

Happy New Year’s Day to you all!

Author: sarij

I'm a writer, lifelong bibliophile ,and researcher. I hold a Bachelors in Humanities & History and a Master's in Humanities. When I'm not reading or talking about Shakespeare or history, you can usually find me in the garden discussing science or politics with my cat.

5 thoughts on “Cleaning up my blog cupboard, or why some of us should use idiot guides.”

  1. I’ve contemplated something similar, in particular moving some old blog posts onto pages. But it has stayed on the back burner until I NEED to do it, because only then will I have a goal in redesign. Thanks for the warnings from your experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to pull all my old Shakespeare posts onto a single page. If there is someone out there who knows how to do this, I’d love to hear about it. Happy New Year, Brian!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. As a fellow technophobe (a bit strong I suspect, but it’s all relative) I know this feeling. When I’ve had a minor problem once or twice in the past, especially in the early days, I did use WordPress Help (on WP Admin’s dashboard, top right) and a couple of so-called WP monkeys helped talk me through it, more or less in real time.

    I have to say that, while changing theme can be unsettling when previous facilities disappear into a virtual sinkhole, I’ve found it easy enough to adapt and grow into the new format. Your new format looks good so far, so I hope you’re able to resolve present glitches!

    Oh, and if I haven’t already wished you, all the best for 2016!

    Liked by 1 person

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