I’ve been writing here now for well over eleven years, and every so often I dig into the guts of one part of it and redesign some element of how it works, which way it’s structured, what I’m writing about, or in what fashion the end product appears on the screen. And I always seem to put it out there as the latest, greatest — and last — change.
That’s not really true, though. Being a web design guy at heart means that as long as this blog is around I’ll be tweaking the bits and tugging at the bytes trying to get it to be something more like what I envision it should look like.
The past week has been one of these “every so often” times, as those who read this blog anything close to regularly can surely attest. I’ve dug deep into the innards of this blog and reshaped a whole lot of things so-much-so that I thought I should take a stab at explaining it… if for no other reason than it will be interesting to me in a few years.
The old look-and-feel had brought me through about four years worth of posts. No, really. It’s been that long since I last overhauled this space. Back in 2008 or so, I dropped in a modified template based on a very simple, plain, and streamlined two-column blog. It started off with a very basic, canned template that over the years and episodic moments of my writing, evolved to reflect various moods, themes, concepts, and conceptual changes. It had a very simple colour palette consisting of blues and greys and whites, with much (if not all) of the architectural imagery presented as grunge-styled silhouettes. I liked it. It suited what I was trying to present: a simple, no-nonsense blog.
Around the same time I was running another blog with a lot of content. I’d found a free template online that I nudged very slightly to suit the more magazine-equse appeal of that content. It was a very public blog, posts routinely hitting two or three hundred hits within an hour of posting. But blogs come and go, and this one faded away as my interests and life-focus changed.
But I still had that template tucked away. And last week, with some spare time over the long weekend, I started contemplating what I might be able to do with respect to two big goals: (1) just another refresh, since it had been so long since the last one, and (2) better integration of the multitude of photographs that never seemed to get much of any profile in the old design.
So, I started to build. And then I tweaked. And then I launched. If you hit this site around about the holiday Monday, you’d probably seen something of a mashup of some of my new tweaks and a lot of the canned design. But over the last week, in my spare time and with the insight of poking around a stack of new and modern web architectures, I’ve slowly built out what I think is coming up to my — let’s call it — VERSION 3.0 RELOAD of the site.
It features a… well, a feature space at the very top of the home page, big, bold and colourful image-based navigation to some of my new stuff and some of my favourite stuff. It is easy to refresh with some built in random-ness that let’s readers discover and find more of the interesting stuff right from the landing page.
It also features more focus on my (now five) main categories. Each is styled with a unique colour that follows posts filed in those categories around the site: for example, “fatherhood” posts are touched with red in all the major lists and navigation elements.
There is also a big refocus on imagery. Every post now has a defined or default thumbnail. Those thumbnails fill the naviagtion pages with a little more eye-catching colour, but also make use of some of the thousands and thousand of photos I’ve accumulated over the years. (The customization, so far, with imagery is fairly shallow though, so a few pages in to any list and you’ll find the default image filling your screen.)
The new design also makes use of some consistent font choices. Static images and headings are styled in the Google Font Library’s “Special Elite” Serif, while everything else is (or should be) styled in some flavour or another of Arial (sans) and relies on weighting, spacing, and casing to add variety while avoiding distraction.
In the end what I think readers will find is something a little more “magazine-like” that is more article-based, colourful, exploratory to navigate, and interesting to read. And in a few more years, I’ll probably have a change of heart and tweak it all again. As for the next little while, watch for a few minor tweaks here and there, but otherwise just enjoy the new design.