Behind the Scenes of Our New Website reDesign – Rough Pixels v2

If you have been to Rough Pixels before, you probably noticed that we have a new website redesign. In the past times, I have made some design adjustments, however, there’s a lot that changed with this site version.

I want to share the thought process behind this site’s redesign, what I’ve learned, what is new, and what has changed. The visual style is one, but the concept of Rough Pixels has changed.

Website Redesign and History

In the ever-evolving landscape of the digital realm, my website has reached a significant milestone – its fifth anniversary. Over the course of these five years, my online presence has seen three distinct redesigns. Each is marked by an unwavering commitment to enhancing user experience. While tracing back to the origins, it’s important to note that my journey isn’t limited to this singular domain; I’ve ventured into three other similar web projects in the past. These endeavors also revolved around the design and offering of premium WordPress themes.

As the years unfolded, a pivotal shift took place when the WordPress block editor arrived to confront Classic editor enthusiasts. This strategic decision stemmed from an astute awareness of WordPress’ evolving trajectory, particularly the implementation of Full Site Editing (as talked about in Smashing Magazine by Nick Schäferhoff). You can also go directly to the WP source for FSE.

Recognizing the changing tide and the theme market’s saturation, exclusivity designing themes was no longer a feasible endeavor.

I realized a course correction was in order and a renewed focus on blogging was paramount. However, this doesn’t mean I will abandon theme development. This article delves into the various facets of this transformative journey to remain at the vanguard of helping you in creating your own blog.

The Purpose of Rough Pixels

My unwavering focus centers on curating themes that seamlessly integrate with the WordPress ecosystem. Championing ease of use without the encumbrance of excessive plugins or convoluted page builders is important.

A distinctive facet of my philosophy is the creation of both free and pro versions of our themes. This dual-pronged approach bestows several invaluable advantages upon our cherished user base. By offering a free iteration of our themes, we extend the gift of trial and exploration. This enables users to acquaint themselves with the potential of our offerings before making a commitment to the pro version.

The benefits, however, extend beyond the realm of choice. The free versions of our themes, in some instances, meet the needs of users, providing a robust foundation to build their online presence. This accessibility allows a broader spectrum of individuals to embark on their online blogging endeavors with confidence.

Yet, beneath the pragmatic aspects of our dual version strategy lies a sentiment of gratitude. I view the provision of free themes as a heartfelt appreciation for the support we’ve received from the WordPress community. I found that over the years, it’s a way to give back, to contribute to the community that has helped our growth and success.

What Was Missing?

While my primary focus has been on theme development, it became apparent the Rough Pixels blog fell short in delivering comprehensive guidance to those venturing onto the path of blogging.

This realization created a desire to redefine the blog’s purpose, reinvigorate it with insightful content, and amplify its role for newcomers to WordPress and blogging.

The Website Redesign with The WordPress Block Editor

In the realm of modern website design, the WordPress block editor is redefining the way content is created and presented. The journey of Rough Pixels took a decisive turn with the embrace of this revolutionary tool. Catalyzing a comprehensive overhaul of the website and a paradigm shift in how content is created.

A hallmark of this transformation lies in the reconstruction of the website’s architecture. A process guided by the tenets of the block editor. From blog posts to page layouts, bears the imprint of this editor, underscoring its role throughout the redesign. This choice served as a testament to the remarkable potential of the block editor.

To be honest, the layout that you see in the new version of Rough Pixels, would have been more difficult if I had kept to the Classic editor. So, with this website redesign project of mine, I wanted to take full advantage of it.

Switching from Yoast to AIOSEO

From the inception of Rough Pixels, the Yoast SEO plugin stood as an indomitable companion, guiding the journey toward optimizing content for search engines. Yet, as the website matured and evolved, it became evident that even the most steadfast relationships require reconsideration. While Yoast undoubtedly provided essential SEO tools, nuances specific to our website prompted the exploration of alternatives.

Enter AIOSEO – a plugin that not only expanded the scope of SEO features but introduced a level of flexibility that resonated deeply with the mission that I am seeking. The decision to transition from Yoast to AIOSEO was fueled by the latter’s impressive repertoire of functionalities. Equipping Rough Pixels to navigate the intricacies of search engine optimization more effectively was critical.

Central to this transition was the interface – a fundamental element that stood out for me. The interface not only streamlined the process of focusing on SEO.

The shift to AIOSEO holds particular significance in the competitive arena that my website occupies. Amid a sea of websites vying for the coveted top spot on Google’s search results, a strategic advantage becomes non-negotiable. The array of features that AIOSEO brought to the table was instrumental in cultivating this edge. From advanced schema markup to comprehensive social media integration, AIOSEO augmented and now positions Rough Pixels to advance in a densely populated digital arena.

Website Optimization and Speed

Today where speed and efficiency reign supreme, the optimization of a website is a prerequisite for engaging and retaining online audiences. The journey of Rough Pixels has been marked by challenges that are now addressed with AIOSEO plugin.

With the capabilities of AIOSEO, the website redesign has undergone a remarkable transformation in terms of speed and performance. This evolution was gauged through testing using tools that have become industry benchmarks. Such as Google PageSpeed Insights and GTMetrix. The focus of these tests was our front page, a page laden with content, including a substantial banner image and a host of other visuals.

Google PageSpeed Insights

Screenshot showing the website redesign speed improvements using Google PageSpeed Insights


Screenshot showing the website redesign speed improvements using GTMetrix

While a bare-bones website might load swiftly, the real challenge arises when the canvas is loaded with text, images, and even videos. These are elements that are quintessential to an engaging user experience. The website optimization journey isn’t about shedding content, but about presentation while maintaining optimal speed.

It’s crucial to acknowledge that the strategic integration of plugins plays a pivotal role in speed. As the digital landscape evolved, I had a discerning approach, paring down the plugin count from 52 to 32. A testament to the measured pursuit of functionality without the undue baggage of unnecessary stylesheets and JavaScript files. The relationship between plugins and optimization is a delicate equilibrium. This is why whenever you do a website redesign project, take into account your content and plugins.

Cache Plugin – LiteSpeed

In the intricate dance of website optimization, the role of a cache plugin can’t be understated. For the Rough Pixels website, this tool is none other than the LiteSpeed Cache plugin. A versatile tool that has been instrumental in a seamless user experience and speed.

Picture of a laptop screen representing a faster website experience

While the cache plugin might seem like a simple concept – utilizing one hinges on a nuanced understanding of its features and settings. In the evolution of Rough Pixels and previous website redesign efforts, the significance of the LiteSpeed Cache plugin was never overlooked. In previous iterations of Rough Pixels, the plugin has been my ally, but this time, a shift occurred. Every nook and cranny of the plugin’s options was explored and understood, leading to an optimization strategy that makes this one of the top 5 plugins to have.

It wasn’t enough to merely install and activate the plugin; it was essential to decipher the tools it offered. Every option, from page caching to browser caching, was fine-tuned with precision.

The value of LiteSpeed Cache isn’t limited to its intrinsic capabilities; it’s equally vital to find resonance with the hosting environment. This synergy between the plugin and host elevates the optimization journey to new heights, enabling the two components to fine-tune performance.

The web host I use is Rochen Hosting, a steadfast provider throughout the years who has embraced LiteSpeed with a proficiency that becomes the perfect match. This alignment underscores the importance of choosing a host that understands the tools you employ.

Pricing Structure

Navigating the intricate world of pricing dynamics, Rough Pixels has embarked on a journey marked by adaptability and customer-centricity. The pursuit of an ideal pricing structure has been a delicate balance, underscored by responsiveness to market competition and understanding customer behavior.

This journey has seen the implementation of A/B testing for theme pricing, a process that seeks to strike the right balance between value and cost. While these tests may have raised some eyebrows among customers, they were conducted to identify optimal price points that cater to a diverse audience within the competitive theme marketplace. Did I make mistakes along the way? Absolutely!

The result of this dedicated exploration is our current theme pricing structure. I now offer a range of options that accommodate varying preferences and financial considerations. From flexible monthly subscriptions with the freedom to cancel anytime, to the allure of lifetime memberships, our pricing strategy aims to cater to individual needs. While the All Access membership option remains available, its prominence has been adjusted based on the understanding that most customers desire specific themes rather than a comprehensive collection.

If you are a website designer/developer wanting this membership, you can visit the All Access membership page. The current price for this option is $249 USD.

What is Next for My Website Redesign Effort?

In the coming months, I will watch the performance of the revamped Rough Pixels concept. A discerning assessment will be carried out to gauge the new vision. Will this aspire to transcend the boundaries of being solely a theme provider, to one that houses a valuable resourceful blog? This venture into a more dynamic blogging space while retaining the essence of themes is an experiment driven by a keen understanding of the evolving landscape.

Amid the rhythm of daily operations, there’s an expectation that a few adjustments might still be necessary for my website redesign. This is the inherent nature of any kind of website redesign – a dynamic canvas that’s never truly static. Lessons learned from user engagement, and the pulse of trends will all contribute to a refined Rough Pixels experience.

If you have a moment, please let me know your thoughts on the newly redesigned website. Do you have any recommendations? Whether it’s to fix something or to provide blog topic ideas for me to write about – things that will help solve problems that you may have?

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