Meet the new Puffbox site

Everything seems to have rolled over successfully, so I think I’m now safe to talk about the new site.
The majority of Puffbox’s work since launching in April 2007 has been based around WordPress. I make no secret of my feelings for the product; so it was only natural that, at some point, I’d want to take control of my own affairs and build a self-hosted WordPress site from scratch.
I found plenty of excuses not to abandon my long-established blog, but in the end, two milestones forced my hand: passing 50,000 page views, and Jeremy Gould‘s announcement of tomorrow’s UK Government Barcamp. As ever, a fixed date in the calendar soon focused the mind.
An immediate question arose: which was more important, the blog or the company background? In the end, the blog won on points. For me anyway, the blog’s (almost) daily stream of news and opinions is the best indication of what I’m about. But the site still needed a solid corporate side, otherwise it was going to look like an amateur blogger in search of pocket money. Hence the split homepage, with a clear colour distinction between ‘company’ (white) and ‘personal’ (green).
I designed it in collaboration with Jonathan Harris, a former colleague at National Statistics, now working freelance; he’s also done another piece of work with me, which we’ll unveil next week. All the templates were coded from scratch, although I took some inspiration from the Hemingway WordPress theme(s): particularly as regards the very vertical presentation, with the sidebar becoming a footer. Icons come from the Milk and Green set. The homepage ‘grid’ layout of recent posts is done using multiple WordPress loops, a technique I’ve had to perfect for several recent client projects.
I’ve learned a few lessons in building the site, but most important of all is that you should always redirect your main RSS feed through Feedburner from day one. What a relief it was to flick the switch from old site to new, and see the subscriber base carry over (almost) seamlessly. The Feedburner stats are nice to have, but they are nothing compared to the convenience of having a perma-URL for your feed. Now it’s all free, there’s no excuse not to.
And by public demand, there’s now also a link for the comments feed. Of course, being WordPress, the feed was already there if you knew where to look. But in honour of Alan in Belfast, first to comment on the new site, I added an explicit link – and named it after him. ๐Ÿ™‚

9 thoughts on “Meet the new Puffbox site”

  1. Simon, great work on the new site! Maybe a nice RSS icon on the homepage somewhere as well?
    Of course, no-one will be interested once FeedBeans is launched, so enjoy it while it lasts.

  2. The only catch with the new site so far is the decision to do both tags and categories. I’m using tags to cover the subjects of items, and categories (behind the scenes) to give them some kind of structure, for purposes which may arise at a later date.
    Only problem: I can’t yet find a WordPress client which can handle both satisfactorily. I’ve always favoured the Firefox add-on Deepest Sender… but its last update was months ago. More features were promised for WordPress in the next version – but no timeline. Guess I’m using the web interface for a while, although that’s hardly a hardship.
    PS: Oh, and I just wanted to show off the ‘official comments’ styling. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. @davebriggs Homepage now dutifully adorned with an RSS icon. I’ve done that a couple of times lately on projects; RSS is just such a ‘given’ for me now, I often forget to include it in layouts. Oops.

  4. Pleasure to work with you again mate. Thanks kindly for the mention, I’m really chuffed with what we’ve done and so quickly! With the traffic you’ve gotten me I’m going to have to redo that old site of mine, curses! Sigh, mustn’t grumble.

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