Wednesday, May 18th, 2022

WP Tavern is sporting a new website design – WP Tavern


We are back with a brand new version of WP Tavern. Technically, we have a fresh coat of paint that I hope you all can see if you can view from your browser. If you are reading this post via a feed reader, email, or anything else, come to the site and check it out.

The Tavern also received a few updates under the hood. I won’t go into those details, but some of you may have noticed that we are now hosted on Pressable, a hosting service owned by Automattic. As of now, things seem to be happening without a hitch.

For posterity, the following is a screenshot of the old homepage design as well as the new one:

This is as much your home as it is ours. We just write articles, but you are the one who spends time browsing the front end – actually using the website. Constructive feedback is always valued and taken into account.

one year design project

It’s hard to imagine the last time WP Tavern wasn’t running a WordPress theme I made. Before joining the staff here in 2019, the website almost always contained a small piece of me.

I’ll have to dig back into the archives, but I’m sure it used to run a modified version of the Hybrid News theme released in 2009 and eventually a custom child theme on top of Stargazer.

I created my last theme in the middle of the early days of Block Editor, and the change over the past two years is like running a stress test against my skills as a developer and designer. For the most part, it held up well as we ran the latest version of the Gutenberg plugin in production. i had to fix one tons A few things here and there, but I’m happy to say that the site kept going along.

However, our last theme was aging, and we needed to freshen up the place. We had ideas until the end of 2019 that we hadn’t implemented, and when there’s a lot going on in the WordPress world, it’s always hard to find time for a full blown redesign. Our first priority is always to share the news.

We were lucky that the WordPress.com Special Projects team contacted us in November 2020 with a proposal. His mission:

We help interesting people, organizations and projects have an excellent experience with WordPress.

It didn’t start out as a new site design project. The team had actually reached out about building a facility that I would like to bring back to The Tavern. That part of the project isn’t ready yet, so we’ll keep it as a surprise for the new year. People are gearing up for the holiday season, and there’s no reason to rush into it.

Our team had planned to redesign the site themselves. We were waiting for full site editing to launch with WordPress 5.7 – So, that didn’t happen at all.

After some back-and-forth, a group call, and moving forward to January 2021, we were looking at the design tiles. Our plans had changed. And it’s part of the magical process of keeping communication open. When you surround yourself with smart people who excel at their jobs, you may end up walking the path you took earlier.

Let us move fast beyond logo decisions, design mockups, and continuing FSE changes throughout 2021. It was a long journey, but we finally reached our destination of a new and improved version of WP Tavern.

Thank you for your work and professionalism throughout the process: from Tavern to the WordPress.com Special Projects team.

looking from outside

Of course, I had objections about this project from the beginning. I look at other developers’ code almost every day, and I usually prefer to do my own work. It’s one of the reasons I never took on dozens upon dozens of agency job offers over the years. I’ll be that employee who wants to uproot everything on day #1. By the end of the first few weeks, I’ll be “letting go”, my employee file will be labeled with “doesn’t work well with others.”

The team gave me access to our development repo and used my favorite commands for the build process. It was a welcome gesture, and I was glad to know that I could replace everything I needed.

But, I haven’t used any of the powers at my disposal even once.

I felt comfortable as if we were in a partnership. Also, every ticket I opened in the repository was handled by – And I totally opened up a lot of issues,

Relinquishing development control was a weight on my shoulders. I quickly learned that it was a team of professionals who knew what they were doing.

Sure, there were some things I would have done differently with the code, such as modernizing some PHP (something that was unnecessary in the context of the project). I’d probably also reorganize some of the folders. Also, it was an opportunity for me to learn, and I imbibed as much as I could.

In addition to wearing my student hat, I was also wearing my client hat. It was the first time I got a chance to play that role. There were moments where I worried whether everything would turn out well as I scanned an unfinished project. However, most of the time, I was able to sit back and watch in awe as the team put this whole thing together.



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