Bold Feature Rundown

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.

Introducing Bold.

I gave a small sneak peak at the overall redesign I had planned for random process early in the year, and a couple weeks ago I mentioned I had started on the implementation in earnest. Now, you get to see the fruits of my labour, Bold. For those of you reading this in a feed reader, now would be a good time to drop by.

I’ll write a much more complete post on my design philosophy and the key features, but for now, I’m hoping to get some feedback, mostly to ensure things aren’t broken all over the place. I’m perusing the site, looking for bugs, but if everyone helps out, it’ll be a much quicker task. Key things to focus on would be the threaded replies of WordPress 2.7, which are now supported, along with the archives.

I’m no where near done implementing all the features I want to, but the core is there and I think it’s a big step up on what I had before. I’ll roll out incremental updates to the design over the next little while.

I hope you enjoy the new design!

Working On a New Design

I mentioned in a recent comment that I was hoping to get some updates to the rc2 theme going during my break, but alas, I’m being a bit selfish. Instead, I’ve devoted some time to implementing the new design for random process I wrote about a little while ago.

I didn’t get started until two days ago, so predictably, there’s still quite some work left to do. As well, since things aren’t quite ready yet on the main page front, it’ll only by the blog portion of the site that gets refreshed. There’s not enough time during this break to do any meaningful work on my plans for a gadget section (boy, do I ever need one).

That’s all for now! The break has been great. For now, it’s time to watch Canada’s last chance at the Stanley Cup in the Vancouver Canucks play. Wish them luck!

A (Re)Design Project in Progress

It’s more than half way through my reading week and I’m finding some (okay, let’s be honest, lots of) time between studying to relax and work on some things I’m a bit more interested in… like another redesign of random process. I started the process last semester, but the punishing overtime left me with little energy to do much more than pick a color palette.

I finally sat down and whipped up some mocks this past week and they’re coming along quite nicely. I won’t give away the farm yet, but here are a few select portions of the design.

Random Process Redesign

There are many things I like with the existing design, such as the ‘topbar’ before the content. However, I wanted to streamline those components and really focus on what they’re intended to do: drive readership. That means I’m taking out recent comments in favor of more prominent placement for the feed. You can already subscribe to individual post comments, so displaying the recent ones doesn’t seem as valuable as increasing subscribers.

Random Process Redesign

A first for random process, I’m going have a ‘static’ home page, designed to act as a portfolio of my interests. It’s time I better organized the things I’m passionate about, as opposed to simply writing them here, interspersed with everything else. I want to immediately impress upon a first-time viewer what I’m interested in and what he/she can expect to find.

Random Process Redesign

Space is at a premium on the home page, so I’ll be putting some of the JavaScript skills I picked up over the last work term to use to shuffle between post excerpts and spruce things up.

I’m not sure when the design will actually be implemented. Hopefully I can put in a couple hours each week to complete it before the end of the semester.