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. :lol:

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