Taking the plunge and redesigning live

August 20th, 2008

I’ve been threatening to redesign my site for about three years now. Owing to being so busy at work and with all the things I get up to in my social life it just hasn’t been a priority for me. However, ones personal site should reflect ones web design ability so I’ve decided to just crack on and do a bit here and there in the spare time if find and just let it evolve. I’m off on leave with a new born baby so will be able to snatch fragments of time to work on the site. Fragments development time usually lead to a fragmented whole so it’s likely that once I get to a certain eureka point I’ll have to consolidate everything. So be it.

What you see here is a skeleton of a site with basic functionality and a so-so basic design. I’ve upgraded WordPress to the most recent version. I was on 2.02 or something like that. Now I’m on 2.6.1 and managed to lose my categories along the way. I think I’ve managed to recover them thanks to some useful advice.

I’m now thinking about how to make use of the WordPress (WP) tags. I always used WP categories before but now I’ve got a bit of a conflict with my taxonomy. Hmm. I’ll see how things go as I write new posts.

Design-wise I’d like to do something different. I want to avoid gradients, drop-shadows and other web2.0 cliches as much as possible (they’ve never featured in a GuyWeb design yet though). I do have something of a penchant for large text though so that particular feature is likely to stay. I always find designing my personal site to be the hardest design to do. Perhaps because it’s such a personal artifact, something that represents me and my work. It’s the essence of the man.

In the past I’ve toyed with hand-drawn illustration, type-writer text and as much organic, grubby real world enhancements as I could cope with to try and make the site feel less computery. But the web is digital however we try to conceal the fact. So for the time being my header contains a throwaway block with a bunch of random blocky fills. I’m going to replace this with something more meaningful later.

The two-column layout is ideally suited to weblogs and I don’t see myself messing with that particular convention. in the past I’ve created homepages that use a different layout from the rest of the site, giving a window onto the delights inside (blog, photos, portfolio, about, cv) but having visited other people’s personal sites I discover that I much prefer to get straight to the content and mosy on from there. So it’s likely that although I’ll be trying to do something a little different, I’ll follow the basic layout of a typical blog. Whatever I do, it will continue to be a flexible, elastic percentage / ems layout.

I’ve decided to use the Blueprint CSS framework to underpin the typography and, more importantly, to reset the browser defaults. I see Blueprint as a rather useful tool and starting point to build upon and that’s what I’m doing.

I’ll also be using the jQuery Javascript library for any behavioral embellishments. I’ve grown to love Javascript through my experiments with jQuery and have used it in a number of professional projects over the last few months. It’ll be nice to use some subtle user-experience enhancing techniques here.

I also intend to use microformats where appropriate. At the moment I’m using the Atom microformat for the posts and POSH markup. I will be adding hcard, hreview and various other useful bits and bobs as I go.

Most importantly in this redesign is to publish some new content! I’ve got a massive list of topics to discuss that I’ve just not gotten round to. I never felt compelled to write whilst my site was so undesigned but once it gets a fresh lick of paint I’ll want to fill it with suitably rich content.

So there you go, a pledge. Subscribe to the RSS feed to find out more.

A full and expanding todo list is available, should you be interested.

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