It’s been a month since I launched the redesign of Random Process, in the form of Bold. I’ve been massaging some rough spots since then, and there’s a big list of to-do’s still left in my OneNote notebook. Now, here are some more detailed thoughts when I went about creating this new design.
I don’t profess to be a graphics artist. My Photoshop skills are pretty meager. Yet at the same time, I’ve wanted to add some more character to my designs, which have traditionally been pretty dull. This time, I turned to a couple of interesting colors to liven things up. I really can’t say there was any technique in picking the shade of blue and orange. Nevertheless, I rather enjoy how they mix.
As you may have noticed, there are no sidebars, per se. Consequently, much of the miscellaneous content that took up that space in the past has essentially disappeared. This was intentional, with the reason being that there will eventually be a permanent homepage, which will contain the things that don’t quite fit in with the blog nature of this site.
The lack of sidebar(s) also puts the focus directly on the content. Because the homepage will be the portal to other forms of content, I can focus solely on the writing here. In that same vein, the blog index now shows full posts, instead of one feature and then excerpts only. This translates into less clicking and more reading.
The single column layout also gives me much more flexibility in presenting different types of posts in different ways. As photography is becoming a bigger part of my interests (and subsequently, a bigger part of the posts here), I felt confined by the approximately 500 pixel wide content areas I had to work with. I want to showcase larger images, and this new layout allows me to do that easily.
Of note, the archives section of the site has been completely redesigned. I used a fancy AJAX archives plugin in the past, but I wasn’t happy with the navigation, which was simply a giant list of dates and posts. Instead, I’ve created a table-like structure, where the user can select both year and month to drill down into the archives.
The same general format is used for the search and category pages as well, although I haven’t quite figured out what I’m going to put on the side for the category version. Meanwhile, the search results page will throw up another search box if a lot of results are returned. I figure the user might want to refine their search if it happens that what they initially searched for returns too many results to go through easily.
Finally, to keep with the WordPress times (e.g. version 2.7.1), I’ve included support for threaded comments. The new comment function, wp_list_comments, is nice in that it eliminates a lot of code for the designer and surfaces so many classes with which one can modify the look of comments. Unfortunately, creating a custom callback to use a completely different HTML layout means all those useful classes, which identify things like odd/even posts, author responses, and more are lost. In addition, the function itself isn’t well documented on the Codex, so I had to reference other sources, and rip out my share of hair, fiddling to get things the way I wanted. I’m planning on writing a few tidbits for others in the same position. Even Otto’s excellent post didn’t quite do it.
I’m pretty happy with the design overall, and with this semester as horrifically busy as it is, there’s probably little time to make major changes even if I wanted to.