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It has been a little while since my last blog post but in my defence, I’ve been pretty busy. Our second son was born, I completed my recent Open University course “Designing Applications In Visual Basic” (I got a distinction) and I’ve just started my next Open Uni course “Microsoft Server Technologies”. Oh, and I got a promotion.

Somehow or other, I also managed to give this site a face lift. I had been working on it for a while because I thought the previous design was a bit impersonal. I also wanted to move away from Yii, a PHP Framework, and use a Content Management System.

The design of my old web site

Web development with Yii PHP framework

Yii is basically a library of functions and classes that help you get your web site up and running faster than if you had to write everything yourself. Yii provides the basis of your web site or application by taking care of the CRUD functions (create, read, update and delete database records). This leaves you free to focus on your application’s unique requirements.

At the time I chose Yii to write a blog app because I wanted to improve my knowledge of Object Oriented PHP. I expected to use Yii in a couple of projects later in the year so it was a valuable learning exercise. However, once the previous version of this site was “finished”, I found I was spending as much time extending my blog app and tweaking it as I was writing posts. I wanted to spend more time on the content and other projects so I decided to replace it with a CMS powered site.

Choosing a Content Management System for your web site

There are so many features built into Content Management Systems for a web site owner to take advantage of that choosing a CMS can be confusing. I have been using Drupal and ModX recently and fancied a change so I ruled out those two. Also Drupal is pretty heavyweight and would be OTT for this site. ModX isn’t that great as a blog solution, although it is a reasonable CMS that I have grown to like. I considered using Joomla! because its been a while since I used it and I was keen to refresh my knowledge. I knew using Joomla! for a simple blog site would have been overkill however so I went with WordPress because of its great blog functionality.

WordPress is easy to use, has a large user community and loads of free plug-ins. Its straightforward to get a site up and running using WordPress. It is also free, SEO friendly and very flexible.

Creating a WordPress theme for your web site

I’ve created a custom WordPress theme that inherits from WordPress Bootstrap. This is a responsive theme based on Twitter’s Bootstrap framework. I have wanted to use Twitter Bootstrap for some time now to see how easy it would be to create a mobile friendly site. I’ve never really liked CSS or HTML grid frameworks but Bootstrap looks good.

Bootstrap was created by the guys at Twitter as a framework to encourage consistency across internal projects. It has support for HTML5, CSS3 and is cross browser compatible. It uses a grid system and responsive design to support different devices, resolutions and browser window sizes. Bootstrap has re-usable components such as buttons and uses jQuery for JavaScript functionality such as menus, tabs and modal boxes.

There are other ways to create a mobile friendly site and I did consider WPtouch, a WordPress mobile plugin. WPtouch is a a reasonable solution and makes it very easy to create mobile sites but using it would have defeated the purpose of implementing Bootstrap. WordPress Bootstrap was pretty simple to use though and I learnt a lot about it along the way.

My next blog post

Now all I need to do is keep my promise and write blog posts more often. I am considering writing something about unique marketing and promotional ideas so let me know if you have any favourites you would like to share.

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