Tag Archives: web design

New Blog Template Is A Go. You May Rest Easy.

Decided to deploy a new WordPress template: Typo from Okay Themes. I was angling for a minimal one column layout and this is closest to what I wanted. I didn’t want to hack away too much at a an existing theme like I had in the past.

Read on for more techy UI details. Otherwise, I hear a football game is on.

I tried something new with the customizations: putting the styling and extra content using jQuery. Schlepping a child theme wasn’t worth it because my changes and additions weren’t that much to warrant it, but I also didn’t really want to touch the theme CSS nor the template file in question (the footer).

Since the theme called the jQuery base script already, I thought I would write my own separate script with my customizations and just inserting a call in the header. That way if there’s ever a theme update I’ll just need to insert the call into the header again:

<script src="http://jaydinitto.com/scripts/blog.js"></script>

I realize that doing all of your styling (and inserting content) with jQuery is clunky but I didn’t have much to do to begin with. There’s an issue with the load order because the pre-styled content can sometimes flash before it is rendered—similar to FOUC phenomenon when you don’t call CSS correctly. I have an idea of what’s going on but research is needed.

To do list:

  • Update favicon
  • Fix jd logo in header
  • Figure out jQuery script load order for immediate styling
  • Fix for Youtube videos (they activate horizontal scrolling on narrow device views)
  • Browser test
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A blank LCD monitor.

Once You Go Dark…

A blank LCD monitor.Kind of a throwaway post, but in the last few days I made everything darker here at jd.com. The development environment I use at work is by default a white background and customizing the colors is hellish, so I leave it as is. I generally don’t like staring directly into flashlights so I thought I’d change what I’d have full control over, i.e., this site.

That darker screens save energy is actually not true, assuming you are using an LCD monitor. See here. It’s Science™!

As a reward for absorbing semi-useless information, please enjoy a bluegrass cover of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman,” by Ironhorse (HT: Mike Duran).

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Another Blog Design Update, Maybe a Little More Interesting

Taking out the trash.

Taking out the trash.

Hot on the heels* of my last update about the design tomfoolery on this blog, I’ve made some further mods.

  1. The jQuery scroll to top/bottom animation was ditched. I couldn’t make it work on mobile the way it does on normal OS browsers. I’d rather have a consistent experience, cross-device, than a fancy-pants experience on only half of them.
  2. The “Scroll to Top” button that appears on the right was also cut out for the same reasons. Now I just have a simple button in the footer to hop up to the browser top.
  3. Mostly little changes/additions to the UI, the most obvious were the large blocky page-level navigation type of things. They look good in the mobile version and are a lot easier to see and tap. It doesn’t hurt the desktop experience either. Gently “guiding” user with obvious UI can be a good idea.
  4. No more side scroll on mobile! Both on landscape and portrait orientations. The Adsense ads were causing it and it bugged me to no end. Now they are mobile-sized. There is side-scrolling if I embed some videos but I don’t have the inclination to regression fix all of that.
  5. I’ve had them for a while, but I don’t think I mentioned the social media icons you see in the footer. They were modified a bit from the original, which were taken from Pink Mustache, a design site whose ill-conceived name will not live past the two awful trends it references. The vector art on there can’t be beat with a stick, though.
  6. For some reason WordPress blanked out my 404 page, so I decided to make error pages a step back, at the server level, using the .htaccess file. Go ahead, try it out. You receive my undying admiration if you understand the reference there.
  7. There was a seventh thing I wanted to mention but I forget what it was. Go have a beer!

* Not really “hot on the heels”. That last post was weeks ago, which is ancient history in Internet chronology.

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An Uninteresting Update About This Blog’s Design

"yo dawg i herd you like blogs..."

“yo dawg i herd you like blogs…”

Ever since entering the smartphone world recently I’ve been more aware of how this site looks on mobile viewports. On the whole it transfers well; I use my own child theme, based on WordPress’ Twenty Eleven theme with only a few CSS adjustments and stuff like custom PHP functions for the ads.

The thing that really bugged me was the search bar, which seemed to be just plonked up in the header arbitrarily. It stuck out more on mobile devices. So I decided to put it in the footer, where I keep all the sidebar type of things, and I added a link to it from my main menu.

The new problem was that it was an anchor tag, which is really disorienting native functionality and in this case creates another click (it seems petty but it will get noticed…design minutia is the heart and soul of UI/UX). So I solved it by using jQuery’s fun scroll function and set the focus on the search field. So now it operates as click-type and not click-click-type. I also used this scroll for the “Contact” first tier link and the “More>>” sub-link.

Additionally I added a nice “Scroll To Top” button that appears when you…scroll down from the top. It zips the user to (surprise!) the top. It works fine in every browser but it’s wonky on my Android (Gingerbread) phone. So there’s something else to think about.

To do list:
01 Make better header – doesn’t look fun on mobile
02 Dewonkified version of scroll to top function for mobile
03 Fix width of Google ads? It causes horizontal scrolling on mobile. Seems to come “as is” from Google so I don’t know if I can really customize.

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This Post Is About Web Design and Not Chik-Fil-A*

I changed things around. It was a matter of scalable convenience; the theme I was using was customized and I didn’t want to keep merging code or design or making sure stupid plugin x functioned whenever the theme had an update or a door was slammed in Kathmandu. Now I’m using the twentyeleven default theme from WordPress.

Shouldn’t a professional web designer want to be more attentive to his personal site? Eh, maybe. I’m designing 40+ hours a week. Whenever I log into here I don’t really want to perpetuate the work into my offtime. I just want to type way with some sensibility, without having to worryworryworry with tinkering the user experience all the time. Every time I hit the front page I cringed inside, thinking of all the things I wanted to do. I even had to stop myself from tweaking too much with this theme.

So enjoy this apparently Halloween-light color scheme. Punt a jack-o-lantern through the goalposts of life.

*Oh hey, since you brought it up…regardless of whatever I believe about marriage and politics**, the problem I had with the story arc was the support people showed for contemptible bureaucrats willing to use government force against Chik-Fil-A as property owners. Letting a government decide who or who can’t do business, for any reason, is letting another trickle of tyranny stream through the cracks. As far as I know, Chik-Fil-A’s exchanges are all voluntary—they do no use force against people to buy or not buy from them, or use force to accomplish anything else. If they did, through donating money for anti-gay legislation or the like, then they are just as contemptible as the politicians injecting themselves where they don’t belong and using force.

**The government should have zero to do with marriage, except perhaps as the arbiter of the terms of the marriage contract between the consenting parties.

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A Roundup of Random Things

Make sure you look like guy when you read this post.

  1. Cathy at Windows and Paper Walls interviewed me. It’s my first interview ever as a sort-of writer so it’s exciting for me. It will be posted Thursday but I rest assured I will annoy you all with another post about it.
  2. I just started reading Bradbury’s short story collection. The way he made you care about the things he is writing is stupid-awesome, unparalleled. He made the subject of an old lady’s trinkets interesting. An old lady’s trinkets.
  3. I’m releasing a new version of Breakroom soon, but it’s pretty much the same thing you may already have read and erased. There are a few fatal and near-fatal mistakes in there that I need to correct before I pass on. It’s my first pass on publishing so I’m allowed a flub, kind of like that tattoo of your first girlfriend’s name you got—the girlfriend that cheated on you with Dirk Quarterback on prom night. Fun fact: my first tattoo was terrible.
  4. Speaking of mistakes, I redid my about page. You’ll see what I mean.
  5. My direct-link RSS feed is fixed. Plug in http://jaydinitto.com and watch the love spray forth like water through a broken hose.
  6. I changed my favicon but it never changed for me. Even after a decade of doing web design these things still confound me.
  7. I got a French Press. If you are serious about the writing life you will understand the full weight of this occurrence.

Photo by boogieswithfish.

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No, You’re at the Right Place

So it appears the customizations I made to the default WordPress them were overridden when I installed the update — which is why you see what you see now. Hold on a sec while I fix this.

EDIT: Well, looks like most everything is back in order, but I’ll be bughunting for the next few days. Enjoy.

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Throwing Spaghetti at Craigslist

Via Lew Rockwell’s blog today, Wired ran a great piece on craigslist founder, Craig Newmark.

About craigslist’s stripped-down functionality, Gary Wolf writes:

Each of these sites, of course, is merely one of the many sections of craigslist, which dominates the market in facilitating face-to-face transactions, whether people are connecting to buy and sell, give something away, rent an apartment, or have some sex. With more than 47 million unique users every month in the US alone—nearly a fifth of the nation’s adult population—it is the most important community site going and yet the most underdeveloped. Think of any Web feature that has become popular in the past 10 years: Chances are craigslist has considered it and rejected it. If you try to build a third-party application designed to make craigslist work better, the management will almost certainly throw up technical roadblocks to shut you down.

“More” of this, please. We are already inflamed with function-creeping, social networking incestuousness — we don’t need any more swelling. Unfortunately it’s bled over into blogging, where you, as the reader, are attacked on all visual fronts to hey hey hey hey hey click this do this now now now share it share it like like like, in warp-speed technicolor at 72 dpi. It’s something I’ve tried to fight on this here site; heck, I’m thinking of stripping things down even further. It can be done.

This is why I like books. Aside from the cover artwork and a few design flourishes on the inside, it’s all thoughts on page, committed to paper and the mind of the reader. When at one time books were what everyone relied on for entertainment and knowledge, they have now become Avalon for our wounded Arthurian senses.

On an interesting side note, Wolf describes Newmark as “politically liberal”, yet:

“People are good and trustworthy and generally just concerned with getting through the day,” Newmark says. If most people are good and their needs are simple, all you have to do to serve them well is build a minimal infrastructure allowing them to get together and work things out for themselves.

Newmark’s words are classically libertarian: leave people alone and they will most likely work things out for themselves. For every single “craigslist killer” there’s probably a million mutually beneficial, peaceful, voluntary transactions. Not a bad ratio. I’ve done maybe a dozen sales through craigslist with zero problem — I simply use some common sense and intuition to avoid transactions from which I may not benefit. The idea of a society capable of functioning by itself, coercion(government)-free is fundamentally at odds with modern left-liberalism, as well as most other political positions, including conservatism. If Newmark believes we’re just trying to get “through the day”, what need do have for a government to make sure we play nice with ourselves (i.e., the left’s costly welfare state), or that we play mean with others (i.e., the right’s costly warfare state)?

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