Well ladies and gentleman, I have finally completed my redesign. Thanks to everyone for being so patient. Now, as one last piece, please allow me to explain my thinking. (For those reading on an RSS reader, please take the time and check out the site. I put a lot of work into it and would love to hear your feedback.) I really tried to follow my own advice and design for my content, not against it.
Let me start out by pointing you to a few sites that I was inspired by:
1. Kottke.org: In my opinion, this is about as good as a blog can get. I love how clean it is and how well laid out (except for how hard it is to get to the search bar).
2. GarrettDimon.com: Again, I love how clean this site is and how well thought through every piece is. It’s simplicity at it’s best.
3. SimpleBits: When it comes to CSS and design, this site is pretty much the cream of the crop in my opinion. Only shared with . . .
4. StopDesign: Maybe I should just change the name of my site to something that starts with the letter ‘S’.
The inspiration included a lot more pages than that, but I think those are probably the big four. (I would also include Richard MacManus’s article Web 2.0 For Designers and Tom Coates’ Plasticbag.org. Anyway, let me explain some of my thinking.
The Basic Structure
The goal with everything was simple, simple, simple. The only thing that travels from page to page is the top bar you see at the top, which includes a link back to the homepage and a search bar. When I really broke everything down it seemed to me that the site didn’t need any universal navigation beyond that. Each page carries with it some other form of navigation as well. For example, the home page has a small paragraph at the bottom with links to helpful parts of the site and individual entries all have a little section to the right I call “vitals.” That section includes date, author, category (a new addition) and location within the archives.
I think regular old plain archives are a little outdated. How often do you actually read through the archives that way? That’s why I gave equal billing to the archive entries and to the archive nav which includes some random entry fun, as well as recommended entries and browse by date OR category.
Hmmm . . . if you haven’t noticed yet the comment/permalink button (now merged) is huge. The comment form looks pretty (in Firefox and Safari at least — by the way, that HTML was mostly stolen from GarrettDimon.com). Another new nifty feature is the little entry description (known as a dek in “the industry”). Truth is, it’s nothing more than some extended entry text (which is why old pages don’t have them).
I think that’s about it. I worked quite hard on the page and I’m pretty damn proud of it, so any feedback is greatly appreciated (even negative). I really think that it’s well thought through and usable and I hope you feel the same way. Of course it looks best on Firefox/Safari (thank goodness for standards). If anyone runs across any issues in other browsers please let me know.
Finally, for those interested, here are the Movable Type plugins I used in creating this page:
– Archive Date Header: Handy little plugin that allows me to organize the archives by year and month.
– FilterCategories: Man did I search around a while for this one. This is what helps me create a Recommended Reading section by filtering out the recommended category whenever it appears (at least in theory).
– MTEntryIfComments: This is how I keep the comment number centered in the big orange button. I have two different CSS classes depending on whether it’s below 10 comments or above. Couldn’t do it without it.
– MTSwtich: Quite possibly leave the best for last. This allows you to create an if/then statement for almost any attribute. That’s why my comment boxes look different and also why “Recommended Reading” is it’s own section.
I think that about covers. Hope you enjoy the new site and don’t hesitate to let me know how you feel.
Update (6/1/05): Stupid me just realized GetXML only refreshes my bookmarks when I rebuild the site. Oops . . . Guess it’s back to the drawing board, gonna have to find another answer to my displaying del.icio.us bookmarks problem.