Aldosoft Relaunched

Two weeks ago I relaunched the Aldosoft web site, improving both the visual design and the code behind it, and adding a blog for posts like this one. Some things remain the same; it still runs on WordPress, because that’s perfect for a content-focused site like this one. This article is a brief description of the technical changes and additions.

Aldosoft 2005
The Old Aldosoft
Aldosoft 2010
The New Aldosoft

The most obvious difference is visual. After playing with a number of options for a new design, I chose the Thesis theme framework. I’ll eventually write more about why I selected Thesis, but for now, it combines great visual design, including fantastic typography and flexible layouts, with terrific customization options. It also generates outstanding, beautiful HTML and CSS. I have customized it moderately, but mostly stuck with the Thesis minimalist, text-focused aesthetic.

In addition to WordPress and Thesis, I’m using a variety of WordPress plugins to add visible features, or otherwise affect the display of this site, including:

  • Subscribe to Comments
    Allows people to subscribe to new comments on individual posts. Great for people who read an article covering a specific topic, and want to be notified if more information is added.
  • Text Control
    Prettyfies (technical term) text, and allows me to use simplified markup (instead of raw HTML) when formating longer posts with lots of structure (sections, lists, etc.). It allows the use of Textile, Markdown, or WordPress’s built-in formatting, on a post-by-post basis.
  • Twitter Tools
    There are a variety of Twitter plugins for WordPress. TwitterTools is the most powerful, though not the simplest to use.
  • WP-Cufon
    Makes it easy to use the Cufón font replacement technique, which lets you reliably and accessibly use more than just “web safe” fonts. I’m using it to display the Titillium typeface for headlines, etc.
  • WP-Syntax
    I’ll have a longer post about syntax highlighting soon, but this is the plugin I chose to make posted source code more readable.

I also have a set of administrative and “infrastructure” plugins, which are not visible externally, but I find extremely useful in managing any WordPress site:

  • Akismet (included with WordPress)
    Absolutely mandatory anti-comment spam tool. Life would suck without it.
  • Google Analyticator
    Activates Google Analytics (visitor statistics) on the site. Technically Thesis has an option that could replace this, but Analyticator is so much more automatic and complete.
  • Google XML Sitemaps
    Automatically generates a sitemap.xml file whenever I update the site. Creating a site map for Google is an essential part of getting good rankings in search results.
  • Redirection
    A sophisticated tool for automatically redirecting people when they come to a bad URL. Probably too sophisticated, the user interface is complex, but I’m used to it…
  • Woopra
    Another web stats tool, basically a competitor to Google Analytics. I’m trying both.
  • WordPress Database Backup
    Automatically sends me a backup of the WordPress database, once a week, via email. Automatic backups rule.

This list of plugins is constantly evolving. I’ll try to post updated versions a couple times a year.

That’s what’s new on the technical side. Of course, as much work as the technical pieces were, I rewrote nearly every word on every page, and that was a lot more effort. In the end, a web site is only as good as the content, and the technology is secondary. Ideally I’ve done well with both.