16 February 2011

Midnight Marauders

Listening to: T.V. Carpio, "I Want to Hold Your Hand." I saw Across the Universe when it came out but probably erased from my memory for the many scenes that were just utter ridiculousness. I should have paid attention to this Beatles cover by T.V. Carpio though as it's kinda killer. Carpio is now starring as Arachne on Broadway for the Spider-Man musical.

Few things make me happier in life than when someone asks me to help them start a blog. My answer is always: "Yes yes, a thousand times yes!" What I like even better is after they've started a blog and kept up with it, I ask them about a redesign. Or maybe they suggest that they need a new look. That's when I know I've got them hooked.

After doing a redesign on Reena's blog, I was starting to get jealous of all the doodads Blogger has. The last time I redid my blog was right before EC came out, which was about two years ago. Technology has come a long way since then and I needed to put my newfound skills to the test. Plus my site was looking dated and I like to keep it semi-fresh.

Let me just say that we are at the limits of my coding expertise. I was fine copy pasting HTML and stuff like that but now Blogger has gotten slightly too complicated for me and there are little things I get stuck on. Ameer suggested we take a proper programming class online through iTunes U but I'm not sure I have the time for it right now. I'm hoping he gets real good at it though, so I can ask him my programming questions. For the record, iTunes U is kind of amazing and I can't believe I just found out about it now.

Below I'm gonna summarize my redesign process, mainly so I can reference this when I do another look.

  1. Save the old template. This is really the most important step. I also do most of the initial redesign on a dummy blog.
  2. Think about what could happen with the site in the future. For me, there will be new books, new projects, and just more new. Thus I went with a three column layout. Plus I couldn't figure out how to get to two even if I wanted.
  3. Pick a template, usually off btemplates.com because they're easy to install. There are a ton of templates on here but I recommend starting with Adapted from Wordpress or one of the categories. Otherwise you'll go crazy looking.
  4. Use dafont.com to find a good header font. The header drives the entire look of the site I feel. I'm in love with dafont.com because you can preview the text and then download the files very easily. This time around, testing out various fonts took the longest. Font overload!
  5. Import the new template file and make all the necessary adjustments. Fine tune colors and little details.
  6. Add on the Sitemeter and Google Analytics code.
  7. Adjust the Blogger widgets. This step killed me because originally the site was only displaying posts in summary format with a "read more" link. I hate that. I couldn't figure out how to change it but then I hit a magic button and everything worked out somehow. Seriously, I detest websites that make me click to read more. I understand the utility on certain sites, but generally it's just annoying.
  8. This template auto-refreshes photos on the main page, which was a huge reason why I went with it. It took some time to find and cut pictures to 520x300 specifications and then throw in all the appropriate links and descriptions. I love rotating photos on my blogs so this is exciting indeed.
  9. Found fun icons for Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and RSS feed on the sidebar. Who doesn't love buttons? This may now be my favorite part of the site.
Problems still to be solved:
  • The navgation is wonky at the bottom of each page. It's hard to get to later posts or to go from one month to the other without accessing the archives.
  • Sidebar links are not in the right color. The small line height also annoys me.
  • Redo each EC book page to consolidate them.
  • Rewrite my bio and general text info.
Short of fixing a few minor things, the great blog revamp of 2011 is done. And it semi-coincides with my tenth blogging anniversay! Quick, I need another project. Everyone start blogging!