Why and How This Site was Built

Why I built this site?

I created this site for a few reasons:

  1. To document my thoughts on design, marketing, creativity and WordPress; and hopefully learn something in the process.
  2. To practice the art of creating itself by moving things out of my head and onto the page.
  3. To contribute in some way to the community of online creators. If you’re reading this, that means you.

How was it built?

I thought I’d pull back the curtain and share the nuts and bolts of this site. I’ll also share some of the thought processes behind my decisions.

Backend Stuff

WPX Hosting. This is the 6th host I’ve used and the best so far. For whatever reason, you don’t find  them mentioned often (if ever) in the usual affiliate-laden web-hosting review. Fast load times, responsive support and fair prices, what more could you want? Also one click WordPress installation, free SSL, among other goodies.

Generate Press (free version). Generate Press is fast, has excellent support and a lot of documentation. In other words, it’s easy to find help if you run into trouble or want to customize things. It’s not that stylish out of the box, but it’s great if you know some code or can wrangle a page builder.

Plugins (as of 1/15/19)

  1. Disable Gutenberg
  2. Elementor
  3. Elementor Pro
  4. Simple CSS

Frontend Stuff

I pulled colors from the Warm palette found in this book: Pantone Guide to Communicating with Color. I tried many before settling on the current colors.

(My thanks to Steve Teare at PagePipe for sharing this book with me.)

Customizations using Elementor Pro
This paid plugin allows you to do some pretty cool stuff beyond just building pages. I used it to create the following:

  • Custom headers for specific pages. For example, the “Thoughts” section and the “Work” section have their own specific header.
  • Custom footer.
  • Custom single blog post layout.
  • Custom portfolio page layout.
  • Custom category archive pages.

I created the logo using Affinity Designer. The font is Cooper Hewitt

Intentional Omissions (and why)

No Custom or Google Fonts
I love type and can easily obsess about it, but I wanted this site to be simple and focus my mental energy on content as much as possible. Maybe some day I’ll add one (like this), but for now, you get plain old system fonts.

SSL certificates slow down your website and although Google has made claims, there is no proof that having one improves your search rankings. I’m not selling anything so I don’t need one. Keep it simple.

No Comments
One less thing to manage. Would be mostly spam comments, anyway.

No Email Address
This may change, but again, one less thing I have to set up and manage.

No Ads
Probably goes without saying.

No Affiliates
Two reasons. 1. One more thing to set up and manage. 2. Might help build trust with the reader (no ulterior motive).

I hope this gives you some ideas for your next site. Drop me a line if you need some help.

About The Author

Matt Stern is fascinated with design and created this site to practice, contribute and share. He also runs The Tool Merchants and helps manage the web presence of Naturespirit Herbs. When he’s not online, he’s probably in his garden or playing with his kids.

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