Minor Tweaks

I made some minor changes to the site this morning. Notably, the site is no longer 640px wide. I opted to increase the overall width to 960px so that I could add a sidebar. As I develop this iteration out further, the reason I added the sidebar will be more apparent. I have done no browser testing as of yet. I would be surprised if the site wasn’t broken, but don’t fret… change is coming. I appreciate your patience.

Cleanup

I’m getting closer to being finished with this iteration of the site. The cool thing is that I am using this theme to power our company blog, so all of the changes I make here benefit it as well.

  • I cleaned up the comments area of each page. Comments should be considerably more usable.
  • The search field up top and on the Archives / Search page use some Safari-specific code which add additional functionality. (If you’re using Safari for Mac or PC, your recent searches are saved.)
  • A number of backend/admin things were fixed which will make maintaining the site easier.

A few things are still lingering out there…

  • Search results page(s) need stylization.
  • Create Portfolio section.
  • Enhance Theme section.

Trying to Believe

I started a live design a week or so ago, but wasn’t happy with where it was going. That’s why – if you’re visiting the site, and not reading this via RSS – there’s a new design. It’s not quite there yet, but it’s a lot better than what I previously had. The header image comes from the new Ghosts I-IV album by Nine Inch Nails. (If you haven’t bought a copy of it yet, it’s quite good.)

(As of right now, the site probably looks best in Safari, but I’m working to improve compatibility with other browsers. CSS stuff like text-shadow is only going to be available in the most modern browsers that support it, though.)

Minor Updates

Some minor site-related news:

  • Decreasing Load Time – I’ve been trying to get the site to run faster. I’ve installed several caching solutions (including WP Super Cache) and enabled articles to be gzipped, and so far the site seems more responsive to me. I’m hoping to have some time to play this weekend and remove some of the queries. If you’ve been to my site before, did you notice whether the site has been quicker to load?
  • Comment Timeouts – I am now using James McKay’s Comment Timeout Plugin for Wordpress on the site. What this means to you, is that all posts will now have an expiration date for comments. If a post is popular and receives more comments than usual, it’ll stay open for comments for up to 6 months after the last comment made. For all other posts, commenting will time out after 60 days. I felt like this addition was necessary because older posts tend to be breeding grounds for comment spam, and some topics simply need to be closed…
  • Stylesheet Updates – The site will most likely appear broken in areas over the next couple of weeks. I’m going to be working on simplifying the underlying CSS of my site in preparation for a Version XVI launch towards the beginning of the year.

Realignment

I’ve been toying with the idea of revamping the overall look of the site, but that takes time, and I already spend way too much time on the computer as is. Plus, I’m having a hard time coming up with something I like better than my current design. So, it’s realignment time again. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I’m going to make it better. Having said that, here’s your warning: Things are going to definitely start breaking on the site over the next few days. Please pardon the mess.

A Mini-Design Update

You may or may not have noticed, but I rolled out a few design changes shortly after I upgraded to Wordpress 2.2 yesterday morning.

  • I changed the color scheme a bit. Went from a dark blue background with white text to a white background with black text. It’s not a major change, but I’m hoping it’ll help with readability. More significant changes will probably be coming in the next week or so. (I’m still trying to wrap up a few projects I’ve been working on for a while, so depending on how quickly those are finished will determine how soon I get to play again with the site design.)
  • I reworked how Comments and Pings/Trackbacks are displayed on individual post items. Previously, trackbacks were displayed inline with regular comments. Now, they’re not. They used to be included in <div>s, now they’re in an <ol>. (These are subtle changes, I know, but I’m trying to improve the semantics in the markup for the site.)

The way I’m versioning the site is sort of weird – and pretty arbitrary – to be honest with you. I’m calling this Version 14.1.0 because of some improvements I made in the code structure for my site template and some CSS changes that I made. But the reality is, I have no idea what version the site is at currently. Hopefully I can do a better job at explaining some more of the changes I make in the near future.

(Thanks, Matt, for the nudge to do this.)

Far From Done

Well, the new site design is here… sort of. I’m still working on a lot of behind the scenes stuff… but I felt like where I am with everything is much better than where I was with the previous iteration of the site. So, without further adieu, here’s Effercio – version 14 of cdharrison.com. There’s still a lot more to do at this point…

  • Integrate hAtom and hCard support.
  • Fix paging glitch when browsing categories.
  • Search and Archives need to be improved… The paging glitch is effecting these as well.
  • Fix notifications.
  • Create alternate, high contrast stylesheet.
  • Fix rendering bugs…
  • And much more…

It’s getting there though. Let me know if you encounter any problems while using the site.

Sneak Peek

Here’s a little preview of the upcoming design for cdharrison.com:

cdharrison.com sneek peak

I’ve been putting a lot of thought into the UI design, trying to make the site easier to use. I don’t have a timeframe for roll-out, but you’ll start to see bits and pieces of the new design starting to appear soon. My site has long been about stuff, and that’s why I’m calling this release “Effercio” (Latin for, you guessed it, “stuff”). This will be the 14th major iteration of the site, and the third since migrating over to Wordpress. (In case you’re wondering, I called v13 “Nanideska”. “Nani deska” is a little Japanese phrase I picked up from watching too much anime in my younger years… it literally means “what” or “what is it?” That’s what I kept asking myself about the direction I was heading with the site and the design…)

Redesigning, or realigning, a site is one of the more rewarding aspects of what I do. You take what works and you make it better. You take what doesn’t work and you throw it out the window.

“The desire to redesign is aesthetic-driven, while the desire to realign is purpose-driven.” – Cameron Moll

With every iteration of this site, and pretty much every site I work on, there is a strong desire for me to push my skills a little bit further. Design, in general, should be fun. It isn’t when you’re doing the same thing over and over again.

So… here’s what you’ll be able to expect with v14:

  • Full Sandbox integration. Sandbox supports microformats like hAtom and hCard right out of the box. It’s a great theme upon which to build a site.
  • Better navigation. Browsing through the ‘stuff’ on my site will be a bit easier than before. Navigation will be more apparent throughout the site.
  • Better organization of content. Categories should be easier to use. Older content should be easier to browse through.
  • Better accessibility. An alternate stylesheet will be available for High Contrast. (I’m hoping to accomodate text-resizing a bit better as well.)
  • Better design. v13 evolved from a theme called Qwilm! … but it’s never been exactly what I wanted. v14 changes all of that.

I’ll post something in the next few days detailing more of my process of taking an idea, mocking it up in Photoshop, and then turning it into a design…

Housecleaning

I’ve been messing with the site a bit, so if things look screwed up, forgive me.

Seeing as this isn’t that far of a departure from what I already had on this site, I’m considering this Version 13.1.0. I’m trying to clean up my templates, add some additional functionality that I’ve been missing, and add little enhancements here and there.

Right now, I’m adding a number of customizations that would be considered transcendent css… It’ll make the browsing experience in modern browsers a lot better than if you’re still using Internet Explorer 6, Netscape 6 or lower, etc. The decision to go this route was dictated by browsing statistics on the site. Most people that come here use Firefox and/or Safari. Yes, IE accounts for a significant part of the traffic, but honestly… if you’re still using an older version of IE it’s time to upgrade. You’ll still be able to access the content here even if you’re using an older browser, but things might look a bit messed up. Take the good with the bad, I suppose…

This is Phase 1… Phase 2 will include the switch over to the Sandbox theme framework. Sandbox supports rich semantic markup, microformats, etc. and I can’t think of a reason not to use it… I’ve already started the process of converting the site over to Sandbox, so you can expect that switch to be made soon. The decision behind this switch is based on making the site more forward compatible. Mozilla has already announced that Firefox 3 will have built-in support for microformats. I hope the Internet Explorer team will follow suit with IE8. We’ll see.