Yes, it’s… yet another redesign

I’ve redesigned this blog more times than I can count. Many of those redesigns have been incremental tweaks, to be sure, but still, there’ve been probably dozens of times that I’ve completely torn it down and rebuilt it, more-or-less from scratch. This is one of those times.

I’ve also (finally) wised up a bit. Usually when I post these redesign announcements, I don’t include a screenshot… as if this is the last time I’ll ever redesign the site. I wish I could go back to some of those earlier posts and see what the site actually looked like when I announced the changes. I can remember most of them, even from the pointless ramblings I composed to commemorate their creation. But it would still be nice to see them on the outside of my brain.

There are some big changes in this version. Most significantly, I’m using two (relatively) new technologies as both key components of the underlying structure and also as inspiration for the design itself. They’re created (or at least inspired) by some amazingly talented people in this field, so they deserve recognition.

First, the fonts are being delivered by Typekit. Finally, web designers have more fonts at their disposal than Arial, Georgia and Verdana. (Yes, there are some others, but these three are the most excessively used.) There are some awesome people behind Typekit, but I especially want to call out founder Jeffrey Veen and creative director (and probably the best web designer on the planet) Jason Santa Maria.

Next up, we have a responsive web design using CSS3 media queries. (Yes, that’s probably the most boring possible link about one of the coolest technologies out there right now in web design.) I think we have Ethan Marcotte to thank for devising this brilliant use of CSS3 media queries to dynamically adapt web page layouts to the size of the browser window. At the very least, he named it and helped spread the word with the aforelinked A List Apart article and his new book.

In short, by employing CSS3 media queries to adjust the page layout to an appropriate width and number of columns (and smartly resizing elements within), it’s possible to easily adapt a web page’s presentation to suit the capabilities and dimensions of a number of screens. Just take a look at this site on your 27-inch iMac and then on your iPhone (or your roughly equivalent non-Apple devices) to see what I mean. I’m sure I’m not doing Ethan’s work justice, either in my description or in my application of it here, but I’m excited about the potential regardless.

It’s a great time to be a web designer!

Update: I went for less than 48 hours with Futura PT Light as my primary font for body text here, despite knowing it was too light and, perhaps, too geometric for good body type. Finally, at a friend’s prodding, I resorted to the inevitable: Proxima Nova. I love Proxima Nova. It’s the primary font I use in all of my business materials (and in my logo itself). I had envisioned a kind of ’50s retro school textbook concept with this site redesign, and Proxima Nova, a 21st century font, doesn’t fit that description, but… man, it just looks so good. So, now it’s here.

Incremental redesign

If you are the a regular reader of this blog, you may notice things look slightly different than they did before. The light blue striped background behind the right sidebar is gone; there’s navigation at the top; the left sidebar on the featured item on the home page has now become a standard element of all of the posts and, hey, the home page is now back to a standard one-post-after-another blog layout. Also, the sidebar widgets are different, and if you scroll waaaaaay down to the bottom, that’s different too. But since you’ve never bothered to do that before now, you probably wouldn’t have noticed anyway.

Incremental redesign seems to be more common with websites these days than the biannual complete overhaul we’ve grown accustomed to from sites large and small over the years. Why? Perhaps it’s a sign of maturity (of the designs, not the designers): designs stabilize over time as they’re refined based on user feedback. Perhaps it’s inertia: sites are so much more complex these days that, despite the benefits of semantic HTML and CSS, it can still be a massive undertaking to redesign a website from the ground up. And perhaps it’s strategic: designers have an idea where they’re going, but it can be jarring to users to have the proverbial rug pulled out from under them with abrupt and large-scale changes to a site’s design.

So, which is it in my case? Honestly, it’s probably a combination of all three. Anyway, I hope you like the refinements, and if not, feel free to let me have it in the comment section!

Sneak peek at a new design

Sneak peekYes, it’s only been about 10 days since my last redesign, but I’m already at it again. I always knew that the current design was little more than a palate cleanser… or a rebound relationship.

Ultimately, what it came down to for me was that I just hadn’t put the kind of care and attention to detail into the design that I really want. With blogs it’s easy to put 99% of your design energy into the header, and then kind of just let the rest of it fall together in the default structure provided by the blog software. In other words, a long, undifferentiated stream of posts on the home page.

Well, I’m trying to give things more structure, as well as making the new design both more functional and more fun. And yes, I’m reusing every design trend from 2007. Is it too soon for the shiny floor effect to seem “retro”? Hopefully the sparkles convey an adequate level of irony. No, they won’t be animated.

Due to the level of attention I’m giving this design, I’m not going to be able to finish it in an evening like most of my past redesigns. But I’m too excited about it to hold back just a teaser (the screenshot detail shown here). Plus maybe this will keep the pressure on me to actually finish it.

Update: “Is this it?” Yes and no. I’ve gone ahead and rolled out the new look and feel with the old page structure. So it looks like the new site design, but it’s not. The changes that remain to be made are mostly on the home page, and involve significant modifications to the WordPress theme templates. It’s another level of tinkering under the hood than the superficial design changes I’ve rolled out up to this point. And I want to take the time to get it right. I’d also like to see if I can really implement Helvetica Neue Condensed Black as my headline font, without having to embed it. So, for now, it looks different but acts the same. More changes to come…

Site redesign? No way!

Yet another incremental tweak of the design has arrived. I’m pleased with the general direction of the current design, plus I’ve got enough invested in the functionality the way it’s currently put together to be interested in a wholesale redesign. But I just haven’t been happy with the color palettes or the treatment of certain elements. So, now we have a triumphant return of the orange-and-gray color scheme, accented by new green and brown elements. I’ve also reworked the header (in case you somehow hadn’t noticed). I’m still not totally convinced this is the way to go but I’m on the right track. (Perhaps the green is a little too “XBOXy”. I’m going to live with it for a while though…)

I think I may need a new section to file posts like this under: “Like You Care!”