The time has come to redesign my blog, and hence my personal brand.
I am currently in the process of moving all of my websites to a new hosting platform and this has acted as the catalyst for taking a look at my own blog.
Originally built using the free “Branford Magazine” WordPress Theme, and then updated to the default Twenty Fourteen theme, it is looking rather dated and in need of a makeover.
This will take the form of re-organising the structure, installing a new theme and rationalising the plugins.
As in any redesign and re-branding exercise the first stage is an assessment of the current site. It is currently a much neglected personal blog – it is December and I have not blogged since January.
First let’s take a look at Visitor Statistics. I currently have two stats packages in place: Statcounter.com and Google Analytics.
Statcounter has been installed since 28th February 2008 and indicates 3.7 daily unique visits per day over the nearly 10-year period, with 4.5 average page views. Over the past year it records 4.4 daily unique visits and 5.2 average page views. Over the past 6 months 4.9 daily unique visits and 5.8 average page views.
Google Analytics was installed on 15th October 2015 and indicates 3.78 unique visits per day and 6.1 page views over that 787 day period. Over the past year it records 3.15 daily unique visits and 4.5 average page views. Over the past 6 months 3.0 daily unique visits and 3.7 average page views.
Whichever metric you choose the figures are unimpressive yet expected. They do, however, provide a useful benchmark for future comparison.
Next is a Speed Test using the current theme and plugins, for comparison with the new theme and configuration.
Using my standard Web Speed Analysis tools the results are as follows:
Perf grade. 72/100
Page load time 1.74 sec
Faster than 75% of all websites tested
Page Speed Grade 74% C
YSlow Grade 70% C
Page Load Time 8.6 sec
In preparation for backing up, updating & transferring the site the next task is to disable and uninstall the WP Fastest Cache plugin. To do this I’m following these instructions on How to completely uninstall WP Fastest Cache plugin.
Ironically, while this reduces the Performance grade it seems to actually improve the site loading time.
Perf grade. 71/100
Page load time 1.63 sec
Faster than 77% of all websites tested
Page Speed Grade 63% D
YSlow Grade 58% E
Page Load Time 4.4 sec
The time has now arrived to to take a full back-up, download the site to a local development environment and begin work on installing a new theme and reorganising and improving the content. I will then upload that to
In particular I intend to simplify the blog categories but implement the use of tags to provide a similar level of usability and ease of navigation. The site (narrowly) pre-dates the introduction of tags in WordPress 2.5 released in March 2008, and has evolved to the extent that it has a very unwieldy category structure. As primarily a personal blog I am thinking along the lines on top level categories of Work, Life and Play but on reflection it is probably best to take a strategic look at the topics I intend to blog about to see if this is sufficient.
Most of my business and industry-related blog posts will be made on my business blog, and merely referenced and linked to from this personal blog. That said, I will still keep a Work category. As an example my posts on ‘digital nomadism’ might fall into this category.
Other subjects will include:
Longevity, Health, Running, Books Reviews (“I am currently reading…”), Music Track of the Week, Side Projects, Digital Nomadism, Living Abroad and Technology.
I think this still makes the Work/Life/Play categorisation workable with the possible addition of perhaps Health, Travel, Culture and Technology as sub-categories.
Currently I have a total of 58 blog posts in the following categories (number of posts in brackets). The numbers will not add up as some are cross-posted:
Ephemera (2) – This includes my second most popular post “The Withnail and I Drinking Game”
Featured Articles (3) – All duplicated somewhere else
Internet Marketing (4) – Includes an article I wrote on f-Commerce which proved popular and was quoted on Wikipedia
Life (22) – Including this one
– Maternity (7)
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) (3)
Social Marketing (4)
Web Branding (4)
Web Browsers (3)
Web Design (3)
Web Development (12)
– Open Source Development (0)
Final speed test before the re-design reveals
Perf grade. 72/100
Page load time 1.56 sec
Faster than 79% of all websites tested
Page Speed Grade 64% D
YSlow Grade 61% D
Page Load Time 5.3 sec
The New Design
I then installed my chosen new theme – the excellent Unwind theme from Site Origin – and made a few tweaks to the layout and structure. These included updating the social media links, installing an Instagram plugin, replacing the featured image for the lead story and updating the menu.
Having uploaded the site to the same hosting space the speed tests now reveal an overall improvement in performance as a result of updating the theme, moderated slightly by the design changes:
Perf grade. 81/100
Page load time 1.44 sec
Faster than 81% of all websites tested
Page Speed Grade 69% D
YSlow Grade 57% E
Page Load Time 3.4 sec