A new WordPress infrastructure and custom theme for At Home with Kim Vallee

Posted on April 5, 2009 by jparadis

At Home with Kim Vallee - Before and After

Kim Vallée, Paradivision’s vice-president and Social Media strategist, finally has a new home for her popular blog on stylish living and entertaining.

For At Home with Kim Vallée, we designed a new blog layout and redo her identity. We also moved her blog to the WordPress platform. For branding reasons, the URL for her blog changed from http://blog.kimvallee.com/ to http://athome.kimvallee.com/.

Why the move from subText to WordPress?

At Home with Kim Vallée was previously powered by the subText engine. It is not a very well known engine and it mainly appeals to .Net geeks. It runs on Windows servers and uses ASP.Net and Microsoft SQL Server.

Kim was already using WordPress for her most recent blog: On the Web with Kim Vallée. She quickly grew to love WordPress. With subText, Kim used to write her post using Microsoft Live Writer as subText online post editor is not as user friendly as WordPress’ interface. Live Writer is very good to publish to different blogging platforms, including WordPress. However, Kim has moved to Mac OS X a while ago and she had to struggle using VMWare to use Live Writer. Live Writer was the only remaining reason she had to use Windows on her Mac.

Another reason for her move is that WordPress has better support plus tons of easy to install free plugins developed by an army of developers. With subText, if she desired new features, chances were we had to develop these for her instead of finding a ready-made solution.

At Home with Kim Vallée also uses Praized to allow her and her readers to rate and comment places where they like to shop. Before the move to WordPress, Kim Vallée’s places platform was hosted separately. Now, she can easily use the Praized plugins. You can have a look at http://athome.kimvallee.com/places/.

To top it off, subText had a bug where her readers would get an error while posting a comment if they stayed too long on the Web page while writing their comment. Very annoying!

Designing Kim’s new blog

WordPress is the ideal blog platform for Kim. It is easier to use, easier to support and allows her to easily improve her blog. Using existing WordPress plugins and adapting a few allowed us to integrate all the features she wished for (she is demanding!):

  • Improved categories and tags management
  • A widget that displayed a tabbed interface for popular posts, latest comments, latest posts and a tag cloud. It saves lots of real-estate!
  • A customized monthly archive widget that aggregates posts by year and month while again saving real estate
  • CMS features for every page on her blog
  • An integrated and more powerful search engine
  • Full integration with the Praized social platform
  • Customized support for caching to improve performances while avoiding inconsistencies
  • More flexibility in displaying her blogroll

Features and usability are one side of the equation. Defining the new branding and graphical design was essential for Kim. For the new design, she wanted:

  • A cleaner and more contemporary design
  • Put more focus on the content
  • A new logo
  • A new color palette
  • A two-column layout to feel airy and support the IAB 300 pixels-wide ad family
  • A new branding which will include a future integrated revamp of On the Web with Kim Vallée

Kim worked closely with our designer. After different mock-up iterations, our designer was able to really capture the essence of what Kim was aiming for with the new look.

From the comments about the new look, we were very happy to notice that her objectives with the redesign were successfully reached!

About the new branding

Kim has many ideas and objectives regarding the future of her brand. She extensively consulted with renowned experts on the matter. Her blog has moved to http://athome.kimvallee.com/ instead of http://blog.kimvallee.com/ firstly because she now runs two blogs. Her latest one is http://ontheweb.kimvallee.com/.

Another good solution would have been to put her blogs under the http://kimvallee.com/ URL. However, when she gives interviews and talks about one of her blogs, it would become harder to give the proper URL. For the moment, http://kimvallee.com/ brings visitors to http://athome.kimvallee.com/. In the future, http://kimvallee.com/ will become a portal to Kim’s different properties and ventures.

The decision to move to a new URL was a hard one. We knew it would affect for a while her Google and Technorati rankings. However, all her previously referred links are permanently redirected to the right pages. Hopefully it shouldn’t cause many problems Google-wise. But, for the future of her brand, we all thought it was the better move.

About the migration

Migrating Kim’s 1,200 posts to WordPress was another challenge. To do so, we programmed a subText to WordPress converter. In the near future we will publish the code as an Open Source project and hopefully, other developers will improve it to add support for other blogging platforms.

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3 Responses to “A new WordPress infrastructure and custom theme for At Home with Kim Vallee”

  1. […] Jerome wrote his side of the story. He talked about the challenges and the added features of the revamped blog. I invite you to read his post on Paradivision’s blog. […]

  2. […] Si vous désirez en savoir davantage, Jérôme a écrit en avril passé un billet (en anglais) qui résument les facettes de ma migration. […]

  3. Matt Robold
    Jul 28, 2009

    When do you anticipate posting your migration tool?