I got a new look

13 October 2008
8:08 PM

6 Comments

I created this website in 2000 and it was little more than my signature and a copy of an old website. That website was called “The Pub,” and I made it when I had little idea what a pub actually was. Version 1.

I played around with new designs and techniques for awhile. Around 2003 I realized that I wasn’t actually creating much content on my website because it was such a laborious process: write something, format it using HTML, figure out where to put it, and upload the file. I had heard about blogs, so I started using Blogger (later I switched to MovableType). The slogan I created for myself was “Less fluff. More stuff.” I put together a design for the front page that I thought was adequate and went to work writing. Version 2.

Site progression over time
A progression of my site’s homepage from 2000 to the present.

I have made exactly 400 posts since I started blogging. That has pushed my site word count over 136,000—not tremendous output over five years by blogger standard, but still substantial. Having fulfilled my “stuff” requirement, I felt like I was able to turn my attention to redesigning my website, which I have wanted to do for a long time. My front page is still mostly static, an homage to the splash-screens popular circa 2000. I am still using the original MovableType template I adopted years ago, which is too narrow to accommodate photos I post from Flickr. I’ve made minor additions and tweaks to the site over the years, but the look hasn’t changed in the last 5 years. Plus the HTML behind the scenes is a complete mess.

I produced my latest effort using what I learned about design and web design over the past few years. I started in Photoshop and produced a mockup based on a list of requirements I had accumulated over years of blogging: I wanted special formats for book reviews, tables, and photos and artwork in a variety of formats. My last site design was largely before people had presences at other sites like Flickr and Facebook, so I wanted my new version to incorporate photos I post to Flickr, links I add to Delicious, and tweets I make on Twitter. After some trial-and-error I settled on a 24-unit grid that can handle pretty much everything I want to squeeze into it. Then I turned my prototype into clean, hand-crafted HTML and CSS.

I started working on this redesign ten months ago and I have been so busy with real projects and school that I kept putting off the final steps. I tried to jump-start my blog writing a month ago, but I was less enthusiastic knowing that my words would appear on my old fuddy-duddy site when I had some new hotness waiting around the corner. This past weekend I put all the parts together and installed my new design on the latest version of MovableType. Some areas of my site are broken, but if I wait until I have everything finished, I’ll never be done.

I know every paragraph in this post has started with “I.” That’s more narcissism than I like to engage in, but—hey—I got a new look and it feels good.

Comments

Site looks awesome. Good work.

Ryan Brown

on October 13, 2008 9:51 PM

Lots to like about the new design! I think the width is good. You’ve got a really impressive amount of content, and it’s good original stuff! This comment box makes me want to talk to chuck. I like the content rich footer. The three lines of links under each post takes up a lot of vertical space. Images that bust out the left side of the column, that’s hot.

You know that I will be a fan of your blog regardless of what it looks like, but I do have to say that this looks simply fantastic. Knowing how diligently you work on things, it doesn’t surprise me that you spent all this time on it…and it certainly shows! I will keep reading as long as you keep writing. Hope you, life, and school are all going well!

I like the use of the footer. Usually when you browse a site and get to the end of the page, users are rewarded with a feeling of ennui. Your (rich footer?) gives a real boost to the readers. At the bottom of the page, user are rewarded with a lot of quality thoughts, info, and links.

Hello. I just wished to advise you that some parts of your site are onerous to comprehend for me, as I’m color blind. I have problems with tritanopia, however there are other kinds of color blindness which will also experience difficulties. I will understand most of the site OK, and those parts I have problems with I am able to understand by using a special browser. All the same, it would be cool if you could consider we color-blind types when carrying out your next website re-working. Thanks.

Collin,

Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I take accessible design seriously and I tested my design for legibility against protanopia and deuteranopia (which Photoshop provides profiles for), and I use Sim Daltonism to test against other common conditions. I can understand that my particular design, with its reliance on blues and oranges, would be particularly problematic for someone affected by tritanopia. I hope that the main content of the site remains readable.

Could you be more specific about the problems you have so I can understand them better? What areas do you find most difficult to read or navigate?

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