A New Year and a new coat of paint

January 2, 2007

It wouldn’t be a proper new year for me without a new coat of paint on a blog I owned somewhere, and this year duncanriley.com gets the treatment.

Long since though has my drive and skill levels allowed me to be able to design something from scratch. I probably still could if I pushed myself, but my patience is such matters continues to decrease as I step ever so closer to a grave.

But alas, in the days of many, many fine WordPress templates being freely available, this year I’ve cheated.

After an exhaustive process of at least 1 hour, I settled upon Derek Punsalan’s October Special. It’s not perfect, but to Derek’s credit it’s well written code.

I looked at a number of other alternatives, but in the end it came down to this and Chris Pearsons’ Cutline. Cutline has a lot going for it, but vice versa I’m not the only person to know this as well, because Cutline is found on far, far too many blogs for me to consider using it, even as a code base for my final design.

There are still some bugs here as I write this post, a number of which I intend on tackling in the coming days. My only real dislike of the template is the divided bottom portion for comments and archived posts. The first thing I changed on the main page was the provision that only the latest post show in full. My problem here is that to make such a 1 post provision work, one requires to regularly post posts of a reasonable length, and unfortunately that’s not my style. However, the division of the sidebar into two portions then provides a split flow effect that is then dependent again on the length of the given post. It’s why as I write this there is far less in my sidebar than has previously been. I’d think the coding to correct this isn’t overly hard, but I’ll give a day to consider changing it.

Naturally, it wouldn’t be a blog with my name on it without some type of header. Implementation of the code to include it on the template wasn’t overly hard, although for a beginner it wouldn’t be the easiest of processes. Of course having a header meant creating a design, and that in itself can often be a long and drawn out process, indeed I spent hours in Google Images trying to think of something that might look good. After typing in Western Australia, I stumbled upon an old map of the State, dating from probably the 1920’s. The map itself didn’t catch my eye as much as the colours. The worn, some what washed look is something you don’t often see on blogs, nor the web for that matter, so what better choice that to use a portion of where I now live. Font choice was different again, because although I’d planned to keep the font choices of the previous layout, they didn’t work with the background, so eventually I found something that sort of fitted the 1920’s theme, not quiet art-deco in an artistic sense, but a font that none the less would perhaps be more suited to the period.

Hopefully though, I hope the new layout is more clean and reader friendly that my past efforts. Clutter is something that is a regular attribute of many blogs, but it doesn’t add anything to the readers experience. Feel free to lambaste the makeover should you feel the need, feedback is the root of future success.

3 responses to A New Year and a new coat of paint

  1. I like it. It’s clean ond open and inviting. It’s still recognizably Cutline-based, though. And the historical header is great. Love it.

    We’ll be putting a new template on all 53 of Syntagma’s sites this month. I hope it all goes as smoothly as yours obviously has. 😉

  2. Very nice. Very inviting. Love it!