Another new look

Yes, I have been messing with the site design again. Not only that but I’ve also made the switch away from Wordpress back to MovableType.

Why?

As much as I love the fact that Wordpress is an open-source application, with a simple themeing system and with dynamic publishing features that work quite well, as silly as it may seem I just didn’t feel as comfortable when posting entries in Wordpress as I did when using MovableType. Everytime I logged into Wordpress and started to add a new entry, it just didn’t feel right. The ‘New Entry’ page in MovableType just seems more conducive to writing a new entry.

Then after messing around redesigning a couple of sites running MovableType, I started thinking about how much I preferred the simple HTML-like template-tags used in MT, rather than the somewhat confusing spaghetti combination in Wordpress of template tags (in reality they’re actually PHP functions) embedded into PHP. Don’t get me wrong, I like PHP (it’s still used quite extensively to power some parts of this new design) I just find MTs method easier to maintain. In summary, the simple template tags in MT far outweigh its primary disadvantage - the constant rebuilding of files when making a change or adding a new entry.

You can read about why I originally switched away from Wordpress in my entry titled Switched.

Remember that this is only my opinion, I appreciate that others (i.e. you the reader ) may think differently.

New features

I’ve added a few new features within this new design. First up I’ve reworked the asides/quickies/leftovers and have integrated them into the main index page. I’m still not 100% convinced that embedding them like this is the best solution, as it does tend to distract something from the main entries. This current setup is a bit of a compromise while I see how things pan out.

In making this change, I’ve rechristened what were called ‘Quickies’ to be Leftovers. I’ve also introduced a simple star ranking scale for each Leftover: Five Stars being a must read, One Star being worthy of a mention though nothing too earth-shattering.

Second new feature is a section I’ve called Recently. The intention for this section is to log anything I’ve done ‘recently’ be it reading a book, visiting something, watching something etc. Over time it should develop into a historical list of ‘things seen and done’.

Entries for all sections are aggregated on the Archives page for easy reference. A site-wide search function will return shortly.

Design notes

The unified site navigation remains at the top of the page. You will notice that Leftovers and Recently sections are missing from these tabs, which is intentional.

I’ve moved to a two-column design. One column worked well in the previous iteration, though having all the ‘additional ‘ stuff at the very bottom of the page was not ideal from both a visibility and usability standpoint- hence the new side column. The new design is also currently liquid (each columns width changes as you change the size of your browser window) which is a slight improvement from the previous fixed design.

Primary fonts have been changed to Arial, as seems to be the trend at the moment. I’m especially liking the look of the bold/Arial link style. The old design stayed a little too close to the default fonts used in the base theme, K2. Font sizing is also now relative to your browser settings.

My Flickr badge makes a welcome return to pole position at the top of the sidebar on the main index page. I’ve also added the latest photos from Natalie’s Flickr photostream.

Most recent Recently entries are listed below the Flickr badges on the main index page.

Regarding comments

Comments have switched off for the time being. I do intend turning them back on, though the priority right now is getting the rest of the site up and running again. I still have some work to do to get the comment look ‘n feel just right.

The future

As soon as this new design beds itself down, I will try to post more often. As mentioned above, one mof mine primary motivations for moving back to MT was that I feel a lot more comfortable writing new entries directly into MT. This will come in handy when we hit the road for an extended period in just a few short weeks.

Things still outstanding:

  • Site search function
  • Comments
  • Recent comments feed to return
  • Print style sheet
  • New header graphic (why not?)