On Building This Blog…

Posted by Aaron on April 19, 2013

Quite some time ago I came into the office with a new, vague to-do on my Basecamp… “DesignLab Blog”. As some of you may remember, the original DesignLab blog was a pretty neat place for our designers to post their work and ideas.

Unfortunately, new content became scarce and the platform was ultimately shut down (partly due to our outdated WP version being a security risk).

So when I was brought onto the DesignLab team I was given the task revitalizing a blog as a creative outlet. We had 3 main objectives from the start: readability (optimized for desktop and mobile), simplicity, and “keeping it weird”. With those objectives in mind, I met with my team to start hashing out designs and discussing which platform we were going to build on. We had a few different options on the table: including Middleman (static blog generator), WordPress (which we formerly used), and Tumblr. MailChimp currently publishes to a few different tumblrs, and we thought that might be a great choice for us too. Tumblr is a great blog network for finding really weird and quirky content, but it didn’t seem very accessible for having multiple authors wanting to contribute. As far as developing themes for Tumblr, I don’t know how you people do it. I started off using Tumblargh (by Jason Webster) in conjunction with a starter theme (by Robbie Player) to grab our sample content and develop my theme locally. We went back and forth on several design revisions before we ultimately decided to scrap Tumblr as our platform. 🙁

For several months the project sat at the bottom of my to-do list to eventually be revisited in the new year. With the vision to pull in as many minds as possible from our creative department, we decided that WordPress would be a very suitable solution. Now I have managed content for a quite a few WordPress sites in my day, but I had never actually built one until this project. Given that my PHP was a little rusty, I managed to navigate my way through and use WP’s functions the way I wanted to, and also trim a lot of extra code we didn’t want. I used an awesome starter theme (by Matt Banks) which allowed me to happily write my stylesheets with SASS (the mixins and variables are enough to make anybody to a believer).

I don’t want to bore you too much, so in closing I’d like to say that WordPress has been a very nice solution for our team. I urge you to watch this space (as it will be changing constantly), or perhaps subscribe via RSS. If RSS readers aren’t your thing, we send out an extremely nifty MailChimp RSS Campaign at the beginning of every month. We have links above, below, or just click here.

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