Can you smell the fresh paint? Yes, it is true, ATLChris.com 2.0 has launched. If you follow my blog via RSS, you might want to browse on over and check out the new and improved ATLChris.com. I have added a hand full of new features, and modernized the design a bit. People keep asking me, is this new design based off of the Thesis theme? No, it is not. I wanted to broaden my understanding and knowledge of the more advanced WordPress template techniques, so I decided to hand code my first WordPress theme. This theme is 100% custom, I started with blank pages, and coded everything you see from the ground up.

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The Design

Some of you might be wondering why the new design is very close to the old design, well, the answer to that question is brand recognition. In recent months, my blog has increased in popularity by almost 500%. I didn’t want to confuse all my new readers and follower, by completely revamping my current brand image. With that being said, the design itself might look a little bit like the old one, but it has been completely modernized and rewritten from the ground up.

The logo might look the same to you long time followers but it has actually changed.How did it change? Well see your yourself!

ATLChris Logo Transformation

Some of the other subtle design changes, are the shade of green, the font face, text size, and the sidebar. I wanted to brighten the site up a bit, so I went with a slightly brighter shade of green and more white space to keep it from looking cluttered. The font face and text size changes are to increase readability and strain on the eyes. For the new sidebar, I decided to remove some of the clutter, to give the site a cleaner appearance.

What’s New

This recent redesign is not just subtle appearance changes, I have also made some changes to the way the site works and the content that appears on it. The first new addition which is probably the most noticeable, is the new magazine style post layout. With the new template, I have 3 featured posts, which appear in the standard blog style, but everything beyond that, is shown as short excerpts which allows you to browse older post more quickly and effectively. The archives and search pages also feature a new post layout.

Magazine Style WordPress Template

Next, is the addition of pagination. What is pagination? Well it is the list of numbers at the bottom of all the pages that list various posts. By default, WordPress only offers you a “Previous Page” and a “Next Page” link. I was able to create a bit of php code that converts the pervious and next links in to a more friendly page list. This not only makes it easy to view older posts, but it also allows you to get and idea of how many post are in the list you are currently viewing.

ATLChris Pagnation WordPress Template

Another new addition to the site, is a custom written contact form. In the past, I have used various 3rd party plugins for contact forms, but in an attempt to minimize plugins and increase site performance, I decided to hand code a custom php contact form.

ATLChris Custom WordPress Contact Form Page

Besides the above changes, I have also integrated a jQuery based thumbnail zoom in to the site, I have made some minor changes to the archives page, added more content to the “About” section, and added a page listing all my gear and the software I use on my computers and my iPhone. Take a few minutes to look around at all the great new content. Right now some of it might be a bit basic, and that is because I am still working out some of the static pages.

That is about it, there are other changes and additions, but I don’t want to bore you any further. I am really interested in hearing your feedback on the new design. What do you like? What don’t you like? What would you change? Please chime in, I will be tweaking the new design for a few weeks, so your feedback is very important.