I upgraded my version of Thesis — the WordPress framework that I use for this blog — and my theme yesterday. Then suddenly some of the nice design alterations and personal hack jobs that I did to make the presentation of the blog appear unique and the way I wanted it all of a sudden didn’t work anymore.
This is a normal thing that happens when you update the software that’s running a website, and I can’t say it came as much of a surprise. Technologies change, content management systems, frameworks, and themes evolve in accordance to market and security demands. You either need to keep changing with them or just sit back and enjoy the ride.
I used to change with them, putting massive amounts of time and effort into site design. For every CMS or theme update that required my attention to make things work again I was more than willing to put in the time.
I’m not so willing anymore.
Before last night, the last time I tweaked the design of this blog was probably . . . years ago. It’s just not something I do anymore because I realized that it’s a waste of time.
My friend Andy Graham at Hobotraveler.com once had the undisputed top travel blog on the planet using an out of the box Blogger — yes, Blogger — CMS and template. He didn’t give a shit about things like design back then: he knew what was important about a blog.
It’s about content, not design. The design is only an issue if it gets in the way of the content — such as in the case of a bad design. If it’s straight-forward, readable, easy to navigate, then that’s all you need.
The best design is the one you don’t notice.
When you keep it out of the box, the CMS and theme designers do the heavy lifting for you. All you need to do is push a button and everything works (generally speaking). You only run into trouble if you try to DIY-it and do something unique and original. Such efforts are merely recipes for having to redo your site design over and over — time and effort expended just to deliver the exact same product.
What matters is what goes on the page, not the page itself.
Just keep it out of the box.