On Design Decisions

The new issue of The Writer came in the mail a few days ago. It’s been sitting, sadly neglected, on a pile of magazines atop the dresser ever since, and this morning I put it in my briefcase to read on the train.

As I read through the magazine, a long-dormant idea resurfaced.

I keep meaning to redesign my blog. 🙂

I sketched out, about a year ago, what I wanted. I tried to implement in on top of the Tarski theme I was using, but the code never worked right. Part of the problem could have been the way Tarski works under the hood; it has so many hooks and routines that replace and enhance the standard WordPress function calls that it’s occasionally difficult to do things that should be simple. Like when I tried to implement dropdown menus. That really didn’t work.

Then the idea went away to some extent. I didn’t forget about it, per se, but it wasn’t that important. Did I really want to spend my time working on PHP and CSS code? And I some longtime Allynologists will tell you, I change my website theme as often as the eighth Doctor loses his memory or some people lose their socks, so it never makes a lot of sense for me to do a lot of work under the hood on the code; I’ll just move on to something else because it looks shiny and cool.

And does it make a lot of sense to alter the method of presentation? A fair percentage of my regular readers get their content through feeds; changing the look of the front page, which is what I had in mind, isn’t going to affect my regular readers at all.

Yet, I pulled out my clipboard and notebook paper, and began making rough sketches.

A little more than a year ago, as a proof of concept for a project at work that never came to fruition, I put together an interesting little WordPress theme, and there are some elements of that theme that I wanted in my new homepage. There’s no reason why that code can’t carry over; unlike the Tarski addition I tried to make, I know this code works.

Interesting fun fact. I called that theme Sherrinford, after Sherlock Holmes’ oldest brother, even though there was nothing especially Victorian about the theme. :holmes:

What I’m looking at is a bit of a hybrid. It would have some magazine-like features and some blog-like features. To someone reading on an RSS feed, there won’t be any apparent difference. To someone landing on a page deep in the archives thanks to a Google search, there will be absolutely no difference. But to someone coming in to the front page, there’s going to be some major differences in the way content is presented.

I may stay with the theme I’m using and then build the front page on top of that, taking elements from the Sherrinford code. Or, I may start from scratch with a different theme’s code base. I haven’t decided yet; I see possibilities in both directions, and I know the second theme option if that’s the route I go.

This is not a priority, and I don’t expect to do any coding this week. I’ll sketch out some more, and figure out exactly what I want to do. Then when I’m ready, I’ll put some Barenaked Ladies in the stereo and start to code PHP; there’s just something about BNL that just makes coding that much better.

It would be so much easier if I had any sense of design. But I don’t. 😆

Published by Allyn

A writer, editor, journalist, sometimes coder, occasional historian, and all-around scholar, Allyn Gibson is the writer for Diamond Comic Distributors' monthly PREVIEWS catalog, used by comic book shops and throughout the comics industry, and the editor for its monthly order forms. In his over ten years in the industry, Allyn has interviewed comics creators and pop culture celebrities, covered conventions, analyzed industry revenue trends, and written copy for comics, toys, and other pop culture merchandise. Allyn is also known for his short fiction (including the Star Trek story "Make-Believe,"the Doctor Who short story "The Spindle of Necessity," and the ReDeus story "The Ginger Kid"). Allyn has been blogging regularly with WordPress since 2004.

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