Blog Design 3 and a bit

Hello to those previous few reading in RSS programs, I know there aren’t many of you but still you’re always welcome on the site, boot up your browser and drop by for a visit. If you’re viewing this post in a browser then you’re already looking at the improved site layout, it’s not a completely new layout but it certainly is easier to use than before and feels smoother on the eyes. Although, ironically, I have actually made the header image rougher, the sand it now grainy which changed the complete dynamic of the image, I applied this to the fire circle as well, hopefully I’ll find sometime to draw in some cooking equipment oneday…

Besides the cosmetic changes there are some usability improvements, I’ve tried to stick to as many intuitive practices as I can without making the site feel too corporate, which is what most tutorials on website design tend to do. I always try anything I add to the site first and if it works for me I keep it, what I’d really like to know is if it works for you. I’ve highlighted some of the noticeable changes below.

Design

I’ve always tried to treat this blog informally, trying out new styles without fear that a client will demand a refund or a potential employer will shun me. The transparency effect on the sidebars didn’t sit well and using a translucent image meant that if the site didn’t load quick enough then the background colour would just jump in a the end so I’m not using that effect any more. At least I know that the technique works for the most part and its potential limitations with current browser technology. Although nobody has mentioned it on here verbally its been mentioned that being too experimental has made using the site less enjoyable, as much as I have learned to date I’m going to start keeping my blog to a higher standard.

Twitter / Microblogging

I’ve added some asides, or microblog, to the sidebar. Mostly these will be one liners making updates to the site more frequent for you and more convenient for me as I won’t have to spend as much time making a substantial article. This is simply an import of my status updates on my twitter. As with all twitter updates these will be limited to the usual 140 characters which means a clean cut between my main and micro blogs.

Comments

I’m archiving the microblog encase Twitter changes its license or becomes a paid service, something although unlikely has happened in the past. With this new microblogging section the article layout is made a little bit ka-ka by the small content so I’ve just listed the date and text of each one and styled each mircopost like the comments beneath them making them a linear read. There is a new field on the comment form allowing you to subscribe be emailed about new comments on each blog post, similar to watching a topic on a forum.

Twavatars

With the new popularity of Twitter, and their gorgeous API I’ve plugged into a lot of their features. Now when you make a comment anywhere on my blog automatically either your Gravatar, which commenter’s on other blogs should already know about or use your Twitter Avatar (Twavatar) will be shown next to your comment.

Related/Recent posts

Having the ‘related posts’ out of the way in a posts sidebar for easy read through meant it didn’t get used much so its now between the article and the comment form, same thing for the recent posts sidebar block. Hopefully new visitors won’t forget to comment if they go to explore the older content.

Tweaks

  • Archive pages now show more posts so you can find what you’re looking for sooner.
  • Teasers are longer so you get a better feel of each post.
  • There is a links page for all the links in my sidebar, if yours is wrong or you’re not in there drop me a line.
  • Some of the custom coding is sleeker so the site loads faster.