Website Updates

September 17, 2021: After a brief flirting around with WordPress multi-site, I have gone back to single site- while retaining the same structure for links (Cannot get penalized for SEO again!)  Changed the theme to Neve.

Note: we have extended term license for Neve theme, Generatepress on the other hand is an annual subscription. With tighter clampdowns from RBI and also in ability than renewing subscriptions.

September 12, 2021: Had an outage over the weekend: triggering a new structure for the site. Read about it here

September 5, 2021: Changed the theme for this blog, updated link structure

Update July 14, 2021: I have changed the theme to GeneratePress, which I hope to retain for some time to come.

July 13, 2021: New “skin” added to GeneratePress

July 10, 2021 : Beta site moved to new look and feel. URL Structure changed.

Mar 21, 2021: New home for this blog and Podcast update

Greetings! After a long spree of blogs in January and February this year, the past several weeks have been “dry”, figuratively speaking. Literally not a single post was published.

Earlier this week, I decided to change that. Starting with a new server location. The old location (PHP Friends, Frankfurt) was awesome, and a great service. But I have been consolidating services, and thanks for COVID-19, this also means downsizing my VPS “empire” (more on that later).

Also thought I would mention that my podcast- Startup Nibbles is getting revived shortly. Looking forward to sharing stories about startups in this twice weekly show!

January 16, 2021:

Giving a new look to this website

In first week of January, I decided to change the theme and add some new features to this blog and website. From Hestia Pro, the theme first changed to GeneratePress, then Neve Pro. The very next week, I reversed the changes and went back to Hestia Pro. Read to learn why.

Update Jan 24, 2021: I have changed the theme to GeneratePress, and customized a pre-built template. The journey was not without hitches: the stock GeneratePress theme install gave the site a 1990s look (retro is cool, but not always!)

July 20, 2020: Website Updates: Failed Backup and using Updraft Plus

Today (July 20th, 2020) many of you might have experienced issues while visiting this website. Turns out the database for WordPress had got corrupted, and therefore I had to move this site to a new server. Unfortunately, the first two times, the plugin I use for backup (All In One WordPress Backup) kept giving errors.

Fortunately, Plan B kicked in … and things are back as normal. And I learnt how to use UpDraft Plus!

January 2021 Update

Earlier this month, I had published a post about my decision to change the theme for this site in order to give a new look and feel for the New Year. I literally went down a rabbit hole, and tried a variety of themes. You and read more about that journey in this post. Below, you will find more about my decision to settle for the GeneratePress theme.

Finalising the theme for this blog

It’s almost the end of January 2021, and I decided to settle for the Generate press theme, using one of their standard templates. Here are some of my reasons for doing so.

  1. I have subscribed the to the multi site license for generatepress, which was literally lying idle for the past couple of months.
  2. I am getting speed test results of around, 95 plus for mobile and 99 ish for desktop with this setup. With further optimization, this site would definitely rank among the fastest.
  3. This process allowed me an opportunity to explore and optimize this as per my requirements.
Results from Google PageSpeed for amarvyas.in January 2021.
Results from Google PageSpeed Insights for Mobile, Jan 2021

Opportunities to improve

Initial server time response can be better there are still some dangling scripts or two that are slowing the site down, and many of the images that can be further optimized. But it’s very exciting to see that I was able to achieve these scores using this theme.

It’s been a bit of a journey – I may stick to this current configuration for some time. I may still make two or three changes to the layout, certainly the colours. Secondly, on the scripts to optimize the loading times. Finally, around, end of March,I may move the server itself as the current subscription for PHP Friends comes to a close. With that, this brings an end to this whole series of experimentation around look and feel. for this website.

Lessons learnt

I tried out several themes, majority of them are quite popular on the wordpress theme site and have hundreds of thousands of installs. The reason for going with the more popular themes are several.

a. Many of them offer a free version, to try out the look and feel.

b. My  past experience with Nanica and Atticus themes was not very positive. These are themes with a small install base, and are not updated at the time of publishing.once the subscription ended. There was very little way of getting any support once the subscription ended.

c. The popular themes are regularly updated, they are compliant with Pagebuilders and Gutenberg.

d. One is more likely to find some tutorial, Frequently Asked Questions, more easily than the less popular themes. 

Not trying too Hard

One of the advantages of using the WordPress themes is the level of customization one can create. But my intention was to use as much of the stock features as possible. Since I had an up and running site with multiple posts (over 120 blog posts as on today!) there were a set of quirks with each theme.

The original site was pretty much set up and customized for Hestia Pro theme.

For example, Blocksy theme, I encountered three slender columns, which refused to change no matter what option I tried. One can always change these settings by modifying the scripts, however, that was not my intention, or objective.

Blocksy theme gave a strange error with slender three column layout.
Three column layout in Blocksy theme

Themes like the Twenty Eleven and Twenty Twelve worked well, but they displayed each blog posts in its entirety. The posts can be of course truncated, using a plugin or a script or adding a page break/ “read more’ button after every after introduction paragraph in every blog post.Again, that was not my intention, I did not want to. customize or add too many options. And finally, in case of generatepress itself, image sizes were ridiculously high. So I had to manually set them to medium large for the blog post. I like the grid pattern. And that is what I went with.

Screenshot of amarvyas.in blog with stock Generatepress theme.

I opted for GeneratePress theme. However, the stock install was hardly satisfactory.GeneratePress Premium offered some templates that I customized to my taste.