I'm excited to unveil a new design for GoBackpacking.com! If you normally read posts via RSS reader or e-mail, be sure to stop by and check it out. My main motivation for the changes came from the long-overdue need to incorporate or discard the static pages of my website dating back to 1999.
Yes, I spent the holiday weekend nourishing my inner WordPress geek.
Here's a quick tour of the new and improved GoBackpacking:
- Woo's “Gazette” Theme – great layout, clean design, and easy to install and customize. The Woo ninjas in the support forum have been very responsive to my questions, often getting back to me within 3 hours.
- Improved Navigation – categories, in addition to pages, are now clearly presented atop the blog. I also created a few new pages, including Media (with links to my published writing and interviews) and Advertise (key traffic metrics and advertising options). In the right sidebar you will find a tabbed box which includes the most popular and recent posts, most recent comments, tags, and the option to subscribe to all posts via RSS or email.
- Email Newsletter Sign-Up – I've been wanting to make the newsletter option available for a long time, and I finally set up the back-end through AWeber, an incredibly popular and easy-to-use service. I'm planning to send a newsletter out twice a month. To begin, it will include links to GoBackpacking's most popular posts from the last two weeks, plus the occasional link from the Archives. I'll also share some of my favorite posts on travel and blogging from around the web.
- Free Dare Me! eBook (coming soon) – I compiled all 17 dares from my trip around the world into one easy to read PDF. In addition to the original dares and my responses to them, there are new photos and extra commentary. Everyone who signs up for the new Email Newsletter will receive a link to download a copy!
- Improved Comments – I adopted Disqus, a third-party system for reader comments. Aside from improved aesthetics, the functionality allows for readers to easily leave comments using their Twitter or Facebook ID's, and share their comments on the post with these same social networking services. I placed the comment box atop the existing comments, so you don't have to scroll down to share your feedback. However, if you enjoy reading the comments of others, you now have the ability to sort them by age, popularity, and rating. That's right, you can now rate each others' comments! Take it for a test run by leaving a comment in response to this post.
- Videos – the home page now features the travel videos of the week. I post a new one every Saturday. The videos are also visible in their own posts, in a wider format then before.
I still need to resolve the biggest remaining issue with these changes – successfully redirecting GoBackpacking.com/Blog to the new home page. Otherwise, I just need to play around a little with some of the old design elements to make sure they're all working properly, and tweak the styling.
Feel free to share your feedback in the comments. And let me know if you catch something that isn't working or looks off. I tested the site in Firefox, Chrome, and Internet Explorer.