Introducing My New Site Design

Derek Personal Stuff 80 Comments

Chances are that I’m sound asleep as you read this post, no matter what time of the day it may happen to be. I’ve been up all night working on the upload of my new site design, right on the heels of a painfully long 45-hour journey from Singapore to Cancun.

So, if you could try your best to keep your screams of excitement to a minimum (you are excited about the new site, right?), it would be much appreciated so that I can catch up on my much needed rest.

With that said, there is no denying that today is a swell day. As should be quite obvious by this point, it is the day that I introduce to you my new website design.

My wonderful readers, this is my new website design. New website design, these are my wonderful readers.

I have a feeling that you’re all going to get along remarkably well!

A MIGHTY THANK YOU

When I finally decided to replace my original design, which I had created myself despite having no knowledge of how to do so (I know, it showed), I chose Ali Dark of DigitalEmpowerment.com.au for the job. So first off, I’d like to offer Ali my sincerest thanks for all of your hard work and patience over the past few months. I’m quite certain that I was as frustrating a client as there ever was given the fact that I would disappear to places such as Iraq on a moment’s notice and leave you with questions unanswered for extended periods of time. But you’re free of me now (and probably celebrating that fact as I write).

Seriously, though, thank you Ali!

(Ali specializes in fully customized WordPress themes so if you’re looking to re-invent your own site, I can fully recommend his services. He also informed me this morning that he’ll be offering a variety of special deals to any reader of this site who contacts him. He can be reached through DigitalEmpowerment.com.au.)

THE FEATURES OF WANDERINGEARL.COM

A few new widgets here, a few new widgets there, a splash of color, a new header, better navigation and VOILA… we have a new site design! But what does this fresh design really offer visitors?

The main focus was on creating a site that visitors could interact with and benefit from more easily, which is the reason for the content-packed Home Page. There’s also a handful of useful features that my old site just didn’t have, such as:

“Live a Life of Travel” Resources – This is the nifty page where you’ll find some of the most essential guides and resources designed to help anyone live a life of travel. Whether you’re interested in a one-year trip or a decade of non-stop adventure, look no further. (These resources are either written by yours truly or by other long-term world travelers such as Anil from FoxNomad.com and Dave from TravelBlogSuccess.)

“Where I’ve Been Map” – The addition of this map on the Home Page is so that you can easily see where I’ve been in the world in case you have any questions or need any travel advice. As those who have emailed me in the past already know, I’m more than happy to answer any questions you may have about virtually anything!

“Video Widget” – As I plan on adding a regular video series to this blog, Ali included a new video widget in the sidebar in order to highlight these video posts. The new series will start in April!

“Categories” – Yes, a clear, organized list of post Categories is something I should have added a long time ago. At least I have one now (in the footer) and I think this addition alone will make navigating through this site significantly easier from now on.

What else? Well, there’s much more, but there’s really no sense in me writing about it all here when it’s all just a click away 🙂 In addition, what you see now is not the end. There are more new features on the way over the coming months as I start to become a little more serious about my blogging.

Serious Me

MORE SERIOUS ABOUT BLOGGING?

That’s right. I must admit that a major reason for launching this new site design, apart from my need to get rid of the slow-loading, user un-friendly, poorly designed previous version, was to re-inspire me to focus on this blog.

While blogging may seem quite easy, let me state that for anyone who is constantly traveling, it ain’t easy at all. In fact, it’s beyond difficult. I simply don’t have the luxury of sitting down in a comfortable chair at a well-positioned desk each day to write posts, read other blogs or stay active with social media.

For the past 4096 days, I’ve been ‘on the road’ and living out of my backpack, and such a nomadic lifestyle, especially if one wants to extract as much education and opportunity from their adventures as possible, is an exhausting full-time job. (*By ‘on the road’, I mean living, traveling, volunteering or working away from my home country).

Combine this full-time job with the 30+ hours per week I spend working on internet projects that actually earn me money and that adds up to 2 full-time jobs. Throw in the need for constant travel planning – accommodation, flights and other transportation, visas and more – and sometimes it feels as if I have 3 full-time jobs. As you can see, this leaves very little time for me to concentrate on my blog (which requires a nearly full-time effort as well) especially if I want to see anything beyond my hotel room or a cafe with free Wi-Fi in the countries I visit.

Somehow, I’ve managed to squeeze by so far, to work, travel and blog at the same time over the past 16 months. However, I’ve now realized – and I’m sure any long-term traveler and nomad will agree – such an intense pace is impossible to maintain for very long.

Anyway, the point is, I needed a change. And that is what this new site design represents. From now on, there’s going to be a shift in the way I spend my time. I am indeed going to concentrate more on this blog while spending less time on my other projects. Sure, it’s somewhat of a gamble to put less energy into the things that actually earn me money but I believe wholeheartedly in this blog and my nomadic lifestyle more than ever these days.

I want this site to continue growing so that my 11+ years of global wandering can help convince even more people that a life of extended travel is not some crazy fantasy, but a very real lifestyle option instead. I want you to receive a sudden burst of motivation and confidence in your ability to live a unique life according to your own terms every time you visit this site. And the only way for me to ensure this happens is for me to re-prioritize and focus on what is most important to me (yes, this blog).

So, once again, new website design, I introduce you to my wonderful readers. Wonderful readers, please welcome my new website design.

I invite you to have a look around. The Home Page is the perfect place to start! And at this point, feel free to scream out with joy as loud as you wish. I don’t think anything can wake me up today.

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Comments 80

  1. Pingback: Wandering Earl (2011) | ali dark

  2. Federico

    Fantastic new design Earl! I just re-designed mine too, though I should learn from you and introduce it with a post. Or maybe I should wait for the final tweaks? Oh well, I will go surfing this weekend in Sayulita as there is a swell on the way…longboarding legen Wingnut is around here these days…

    1. Earl

      Hola Federico – I hope the surfing is going well! And I like the new look on your site. Very clean and sharp. Definitely consider writing a post about it once you have the final tweaks ironed out. I shall look forward to reading that post 🙂

    1. Earl

      Sounds like a plan Sam! I pretty much slept in my hotel room the entire time I was in San Fran during my recent stopover so next time it would be great to be on a normal schedule and meet up!

  3. Christy @ Technosyncratic

    Congratulations on the new design (love the header, btw) and the new focus!

    We’ve also found that it’s so difficult to balance full-time travel, work, and blogging, so I’m happy that you’re finding new ways to make it work for you. We’re still trying to find that balance, lol.

    1. Earl

      Hey Christy – I think few people realize how truly difficult it is to find that balance! At some point, my priorities suddenly became much clearer to me and this helped me realize the need to re-organize my life in a way that was more in tune with these priorities. Hopefully you’ll experience the same so that the balance becomes easier for you guys to maintain as well!

  4. Sabina

    I immediately liked the look of this design much better than your former site, Earl. And – for once – it loaded instantly. I frequently couldn’t get your old site to load at all, for whatever reason. I think you did a fantastic job with this.

    1. Earl

      Hey Sabina – That’s so good to hear! And I’ll tell you why my old site loaded slowly (or often didn’t load at all)….because I designed it 🙂 And I had no idea what I was doing at all!

  5. Nick Berggreen

    Digging the new style Earl… much more modern! I’m very glad to hear that you’ve decided to invest more energy into blogging as your blog is one of my favorites.

    Happy travels!

    1. Earl

      Thanks Nick! I really do appreciate that comment and I certainly do look forward to interacting with you some more in the coming months!

    1. Earl

      Thanks so much Mark! And sorry I didn’t have a chance (again) to meet up with you in Thailand. I’m having bad luck with that country my last couple of visits 🙂

  6. Andrew Murray

    Hey Earl,

    A huge blog redesign is always a massive undertaking. I can only imagine it’s that much harder on the road.

    Glad to see that all your hard work has paid off, because the site looks fantastic!

    Andy and Laura

    1. Earl

      Thank you Andy and Laura! It was much more of a massive undertaking than I ever imagined, which is why it took almost six months to complete 🙂

  7. Jason

    It’s finally up and running. I’ve been keeping an eye out for when you where going to get the new design up, after you mentioned it a few weeks back. All the best for pushing forward with your Blog this year and beyond.

    You’re posts are easy to read, and with the interesting places you get to mate, I always enjoy stopping by.

    1. Earl

      Hey Jason – You probably stopped believing that I actually had a new site in the works! I remember telling you it would be ready in a week or so, and that was over a month ago. Thanks for your support as always!

    1. Earl

      Hey Christophe! How great to hear from you and I’m glad to know you’re still out there reading my site 🙂 I hope everything has been well with the both of you and please let me know if you have any travel plans for the future, just in case we may end up in the same part of the world again!

  8. Jeannie

    Earl, the new design is fantastic! Not to mention your new mission to show others that extended travel is not fantasy. I’m excited to see more unfold. 🙂 And may I also say you’re looking slim and lovely in your photos. Hee.

    1. Earl

      Hey Jeannie – I’m definitely excited about working more on this mission as well. And thank you for the kind words 🙂

  9. Dina

    Great design, Earl, we are going to do blog facelift too sometimes soon. I will miss your blog old deary appearance though, the red and white one. With your signature in the banner.
    70 Countries? Amazing! We are about a half of that now.

    1. Earl

      Hey Dina – I have to admit that I liked that old banner myself, but I realized that it was time to ‘upgrade’ to something not so poorly designed!

  10. Randall

    Your design is absolutely perfect. I love it! You know you are the coolest travel blogger ever. I (we) appreciate all your efforts. I know that they have been massive. You do sum up what at travel blog should be. I know that money rocks but sometimes real appreciation is what fuels the fire in your soul.

    We love, intrinsically in our soul, what you do..

    Thanks for your sacrifice and following your love (travel). It give us hope to do that someday…

    1. Earl

      That was such a nice comment Randall. What you wrote is exactly why I want to concentrate more on this blog and I am seriously happy to know that you’ll be following along!

  11. James Clark

    I really liked the masthead of your old blog, so I never thought it needed an overhaul, but this new design is great. Fresh, uncluttered and easy to find categories. Well Done!

    1. Earl

      Much appreciated James! I was quite attached to that old masthead as well but in the end, I felt a completely fresh look would be best. And I’m definitely happy with the new one!

    1. Earl

      Hey Kieron – Haha…you are right, you Aussie designers have a knack for putting together excellent sites. I don’t think I’ll ever use a designer from any other country now that I know what you guys can do!

  12. Marcin

    This new design is awesome! I think that main page is a little difficult to navigate (I think that recent posts should be more exposed) but everything else is great (a new header is very good!).

    BTW, “Refuse the Rat Race” is your new product?

    1. Earl

      Hey Marcin – Good to hear from you! I’ve actually had “Refuse the Rat Race” available for sale for about 1.5 years but I’ve now improved it and am therefore putting in a bigger effort to spread the word. And thank you for your input about the main page. Such thoughts are very helpful as I try to make some final tweaks.

  13. Ozzy

    HI NEW WEBSITE, YOU LOOK AND FEEL FANTASTIC !!!

    Another few things you might want to think about adding Earl are a forum for people to talk to each other or ask questions. And maybe a chat function.

    1. Earl

      Hey Ozzy (this is the website speaking) – I like the idea of having a forum and will certainly look into that as I do want to try and make it even easier for people to interact with me and other readers. And a forum just might do the trick!

  14. Dyanne @TravelnLass

    Looks great Earl – nice clean (read: uncluttered, lots of white space, my fave) design. Love the new masthead and can’t wait to explore some more.

    btw, (as a freelance site designer myself), I have to laugh. I’ve never seen a “footer” quite so HUGE! Ah but here, it works beautifully – kudos to Digital Empowerment!

    1. Earl

      Hey Dyanne – Haha…yeah, I was a little worried myself how such a big footer would turn out but I’m quite happy with it. Ali really did an excellent job with figuring out what would work and what wouldn’t!

    1. Earl

      Hey Caz – That’s excellent that you’re not far behind with your site! Must be a couple of days away now??? I’m looking forward to what you have in store for all of us 🙂

    1. Earl

      Thanks Doug! Improving the speed was definitely a must with the new design so I’m glad that this goal was achieved!

  15. Conrad

    Bold font – nice whitespace – clear navigation – sweet header – boxed topic homepage. Nothing wrong it.

    Just redesigned my own site recently (totally dif then yours, but hey) and know it’s not always easy to improve the old one. Often it’s just a wrap around the stuff. So yeah, good luck and well done.

    1. Earl

      Hey Conrad – I really like the look of your site as well. I’m a huge fan of sites that are clean, yet bold, which you’ve achieved with the variety of gray colors you’ve used. It is quite a process to improve a site but once it’s finished, it’s all worth it in the end!

    1. Earl

      Hey Jeff – You have no idea how much I’ve been sleeping over the past two days. Actually, it’s kind of embarrassing so I won’t even mention how much. But it did feel wonderful to finally catch up!

  16. Matt Bailey

    Great job Earl. I love it. Has a very vivid home page thats very attracting. I’m starting to like the design of resource boxes on the main page. and I love the donut life preserver (or whatever their called) for the comments. totally fits you!

    Congrats buddy!

    oh and thanks for all your help regarding cruise ship work

    1. Earl

      My pleasure Matt! You know you can keep the questions coming if you’re wondering about anything else having to do with ‘ship life’.

      And I really like the comment image as well. Although, it was supposed to be a passport stamp, but I can see how it looks like a life preserver 🙂

    1. Earl

      Hey Phil – That was the idea…to make it as easy to read as possible (which I’m quite sure I failed at with my previous version). Thank you always for your support of this site!

  17. Turkey's For Life

    Yep, big thumbs up from us on the new site design…and we have absolutely no idea how you manage to travel and blog at the same time, let alone do your internet work! We only go away for a few days and everything goes wrong! 🙂 Hats off to you!
    Julia

    1. Earl

      @Turkey’s For Life: I have no idea how I manage sometimes either. And when things go wrong for me, it’s always when I’m in a place without internet or with a terrible connection. ALWAYS!

      Thank you for the thumbs up!

  18. Brian Setzer

    Looks nice Earl. It will be great to get more stories and information from your current and past travels. Anything that can keep you on the road and doing what you want is the way to go!

    1. Earl

      Hey Brian – Plenty of more stories are on their way! And I agree, even if it does require some incredibly challenging times, finding a way to continue traveling makes it all worth it at the end of the day!

  19. Alan Perlman

    “While blogging may seem quite easy, let me state that for anyone who is constantly traveling, it ain’t easy at all. In fact, it’s beyond difficult. I simply don’t have the luxury of sitting down in a comfortable chair at a well-positioned desk each day to write posts, read other blogs or stay active with social media.”

    I can only imagine. Site looks fantastic my man. Had a whopping fun time poking around. Curry on!

    1. Earl

      Thanks Alan! I was actually just watching the Parkour videos on your site, how’s that going? When I was just in Melbourne, people were doing Parkour (is that how you phrase it?) all over the place. That and winter hiking are probably two things you won’t find me doing these days though!

    1. Earl

      Hey James – Are you still in Florida? I’ll be headed there next week. I’m still not sure of my schedule but perhaps this time we can meet up at some point if we can work something out.

  20. WanderingTrader

    I like the fact that its a bit cleaner than the last one and someone can see you right away on the header, well done. And I wouldn’t exactly say that you have been neglecting your blog either!

    1. Earl

      @WanderingTrader: That’s good to hear as there have been times recently when I really felt lost with this site! And I also thought it was important to put an image of me in the header so that readers can immediately identify the travels with the traveler. I think it makes a big difference.

  21. Ravi

    Definitely has a new vibe to it – I was so used to the old design, I’m going to have to let the new one grow on me for a bit!

    Just curious, will you be releasing the old design as a free WP theme? Would love to play around with it and use it on a project.

    1. Earl

      Hey Ravi – Hopefully it won’t take too long for you to become accustomed to this design! And to be honest, I’m not even sure how to release a design as WP theme. The old version was created with the Atahualpa theme, which can be fully customized. I simply played around with it while trying to learn a little about creating sites at the same time. But I will say that Atahualpa (which is free) is an incredibly flexible theme. I was quite impressed with its capabilities.

    1. Earl

      Hey Christy – The future should bring all of the ideas for this site that I’ve had over the past year but never had time to work on! Thank you as always for your comments!

    1. Earl

      Tesekur ederim Natalie! (I love the way that sounds in Turkish). And Ali definitely deserves all of the credit for this site. I couldn’t be happier with his work.

    1. Earl

      Hey Jill – Thank you for checking out the new design! And that was a funny last post you wrote. The title alone immediately grabbed my attention 🙂

  22. Ali Dark

    Thanks Earl. You were a real pleasure to work with, truly, because a). you wanted something interesting b). you’re a nice guy. Time lapses can be thus overlooked 🙂

    I’m still here if help is needed as I’m now an avid reader of Wandering Earl too.

    1. Earl

      Hey Ali – You’re too kind! Although I do appreciate you overlooking my weaknesses as a client.

      And I’m certainly looking forward to interacting with you some more, either via email, through this site or any future projects I may need done 🙂

  23. Jodi

    Lovely redesign, Earl and I’m sure it’ll come as a small surprise to your readers that you feel you’ve been neglecting your blog – you’ve put up some incredibly useful and thoughtful posts in the last few months. So if that was you not focusing, then indeed I look forward to seeing what you have in store! Congrats – looks terrific.

    1. Earl

      Thank you Jodi. I think it’s difficult sometimes for a blogger to gauge their work as we can often be quite critical of our own efforts. But it is always good to know that readers have been happy with the content so far!

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