Thirty-nine months ago I launched this project known as Randomn3ss.  The sole intention was to use this site as a platform to rant, rave, give reviews, complain and write about anything I wanted.  A staff of sorts quickly started writing with me and now, this is the 899th article published!

During the lifespan and evolution of Randomn3ss many changes have been made and this now is the third re-skinning of the site and I’m very pleased.  After using premium themes to re-launch my own site and more recently a friend / client’s site it seemed to make sense that Randomn3ss would receive one too.

I chose to go with Sparta, a minimalistic theme that is clean and easy to navigate.  All the same content from the previous theme is here but the main column is slightly wider allowing for larger photos and videos and the sidebar is cleaned up and organized a bit more.  Additionally, a usable footer is in place, however it’s currently a mess, more on that in a minute.  The top navigation features a drop-down menu on the About page to keep things clean, so all the content is there, but none is hidden by complex menu’s, the content is what is featured.  You’ll also notice on the home page the moving images of the Featured category to showcase specific articles.  Along the right sidebar are the 10 most popular articles and the five most recent tweets from me.  Missing from the old site are the list of authors, something I can’t get to work but is high on my list to figure out fast and all the categories, which leads me to the cluster that is the current footer.

Having a usable footer for me has always been important and Sparta features a nice, clean one that displays all categories as Topics.  Great, except for one major problem.  When I launched Randomn3ss in 2007 there was no such thing as Tags, so I created Categories, a lot of them, more than 80!  My goal is to go through and edit them down to five or so and utilize the tag feature in WordPress better, I just don’t know how realistic that is going to be with nearly 900 articles to hand-edit.  By doing so though, I’d be able to incorporate a tag-cloud into the sidebar.

Other subtle changes include a new plug-in for social bookmarking, sharing, printing and emailing articles, one that looks a little nicer I think then the previous one. Also, on the home page you’ll notice that the articles are truncated, this is to keep the clean look and increase load times for everyone when image heavy posts happen.

The install of Sparta went really well and I got most of the work done in about two hours, however the documentation was lacking just a bit.  Luckily, it’s not an overly complicated theme and most of it is just common sense.  I haven’t had the need to modify too much of anything by hand which is always a plus and am happy with the cleaner, more grown-up feel of the site.  For me, the $22 spent is well worth it.  Like Sparta? Download it here.

Because I know things have changed and you might not be used to them yet, something might be missing or broken, please leave any comment (positive or negative), feedback or feature requests in the comments section.

Update: Marty suggested a plug-in and helped do a little customization so the footer is a little bit more manageable for now, until I have time to go in and clean out the categories and get them under control.  Thanks Marty!

Update: Got the authors names linked back in the right sidebar to all the articles they have previously written!

Update: After a problem on the home page with the slider function working, I emailed the coder of the theme, Cristian.  He promptly got back to me with an updated file but it still didn’t work.  He didn’t give up and continued to help via email.  While trying to troubleshoot this problem, Scott volunteered to give it a look.  He helped me pinpoint one potential problem with a few erogenous erroneous characters in a PHP file and then through some other small issues.  Needless to say, it works and I’m happy again!