Thursday, September 15th, 2022

Release 2.0: a new theme and faster page loading


The site’s undergone a major redesign both in how it looks and how WordPress is used. My aim in this rebuild was to create a faster loading design which has a more contemporary feel.

Aesthetic changes

The site’s had a full redesign to replace the 5 years old framework it was built on. Inspired by my brutalist experiments, it makes extensive use of css grids and flexbox, and degrades to a stacked page layout for older browsers.

Key changes

  • softer oranges and grays are used to signpost elements you’ll find on every page like menus, social media icons and so on. These were chosen to be less distracting when viewing content, yet strong enough to register
  • web-safe fonts replace the previous ones taken from Google fonts
  • the color palette for the main content is simpler. I’ve replaced the alternating header colors with a single color for each level to make signposting easier
  • the menu is simpler, and a sidebar introduced for larger displays. The menu also displays on the left hand side for laptops and desktops
  • navigation is now fully exposed and located at the bottom of the content flow.

WordPress changes

Significant work was done to improve the performance of WordPress. During reviews of both my own code and installed plugins, I found numerous examples of inefficiency and redundancy.

key changes

  • lazy-loading images is now left to the browser. WordPress includes the necessary html when serving non full-size images in content, and I’ve added it to elements I coded
  • static elements such as menus, icons and styles links are hardcoded. As the theme is used on a single site, using configurations for these elements is wasteful
  • seo / social sharing functionality was removed from Yoast and moved to simpler plugin functionality I’d coded. This includes changes to the default WordPress sitemap to exclude posts flagged to be excluded from search engines
  • the theme has been optimised to use minimal calls to WordPress. JavaScript has been removed completely from the site, the css has been minified and other tweaks made to reduce the file size of template files.

You can read more about some of the tweaks I make in WordPress to remove unnecessary code in this post.

Where next?

Release 2 is the new baseline I will be iterating against. There are further improvements I will want to make, but for now I think it’s a stable version I can build content against.

My name is Ross Hori

I'm a freelance writer, designer and photographer. By day I create articles, features and reports. At night I take photos and write fiction. Find out more.