I've been using a slightly modified stock drupal/drigg theme that came with the site when I started Social Mandarin a year and a half ago. Recently it has started to annoy me. The redesign has been coming a long way. I'm not the best coder, but I know how code works. I can easily backwards engineer things. Drigg, the Drupal module that Social Mandarin uses, has been deprecated, thus there is no more support for it. Therefore most of the fixing and design needs to be done on your own.
First I thought I'd ask Ryan from HaoHao Report to redesign the site for me as both sites use the same system. Unfortunately, he was a bit busy and he realized what a mission it is redesign Drupal/Drigg, as he has gone through it before. He gave me some tips for potential freelancing places. So I set trying to find some people who could help me redesign the site. When I contacted my first potential freelancer, he just disappeared after a few emails. Then I realized that this would be an even bigger mission.
So, I decided, to heck with it. Let's tackle this thing on my own and I'll save some money too. It took me some time to get used to the code and things, but I quickly managed to find my way. It was a definite learning experience. Some noticeable changes:
- A lot less Google Ads. I'm trying to get the site to pay for itself, which it has, but the Google Ads just gave the site a terrible feel to it. I removed them in place for more cleaner direct paid ad options.
- Totally revamped the categories. I removed the Chinese in the titles of the categories, as they did not look very good in the context that they were placed (small text, cramped etc). I also added more categories to give more options, as I felt there were some lacking. New categories include: Learning Tools, Culture and Vocabulary.
- Compacted site design and changed aesthetics.
- Links now only allow upvoting, as I feel that downvoting links is a little bit silly, as this the site should be a positive place.
- Remove unnecessary links and streamlined social sharing options. No more big Facebook box and big RSS/Twitter buttons.