Where You’ve Been, Marv?

Its hard to believe its been over two years since I posted an entry on this site. Time gets away from you when you’re having fun. Since then, I’ve gone back full time to a great company, I’m still teaching my web design class, and raising three kids.

I’ve had ambitions to get this site redone. It’s been stuck on its original theme since 2006. That’s downright ancient in web design. However, with everything else going on, there seemed to never be the time to do anything about it.

The time is now. I decided to follow Jeffrey Zeldman’s lead and design this site live. I’m hoping to have it complete by the new year. I then have some plans to write semi-regularly, which I will share about soon. Thanks for the patience.

Five for Friday: 11.7.2008

This is a day late, but considering my goal was to do this weekly, but have only made one post for this category before now in two months or so, I’ll let it slide.


Really nice redesign by the folks at Airbag Industries. Change.org is a site for people to stay informed on social issues and get involved with causes and related non-profits.

Housing Works

Another recent redesign of another non-profit group. Started in 1990 by four members of ACT UP, Housing Works helps people who are homeless and have HIV or AIDS. Housing Works not only saves lives, it restores dignity, purpose, and hope to those whom society has cast aside. Excellent work by the folks at Happy Cog.

Is your (website’s) underwear showing?

Jeffery Zeldman, the man behind the previously-mentioned Happy Cog, wrote an interesting blog post this week regarding setting a background color on your web site. Check out the Flickr screen shots.

Pepsi Rebrands

Pepsi unveiled its new logo and branding this past month. Lots of mixed opinions of the design community. Honestly, I’m not sure what I think of it yet.

Portfolio Stadding Blog

Lastly, my friends at Portfolio Staffing added a blog to their site. There’s some very good posts worth reading, especially if you’re looking for a job.

To WordPress or Not to WordPress?

About a year-and-a-half ago, I switched from a flat HTML web site to using WordPress (WP), mainly because I wanted to start blogging (although you an’t really tell by the archives, or lack thereof). The current design was in the works several months before the actual switch to WP, and looked much better on paper (and Photoshop) than when executed.

A big part of that was trying to get comfortable with learning WordPress. I’m more of a designer than a programmer, and know very little about PHP, especially back when I went to WP. Frustration with picking up a new programming language, learning a new application, and trying to get a site up and running as quickly as possible led to me cutting some corners on the details that I normally wouldn’t cut. Once finally up, other professional projects, and life in general, has kept me fairly busy to where I haven’t sat down to adjust the little things about the execution of this current design that bother me.

Now, over a year has passed, and the purpose of this site has changed a bit over that time. Instead of trying to modify the current design, and fix those pesky quirks, to fit my new vision for the site, I began to seriously rethink the design and structure from scratch. Granted, it hasn’t gone much further yet than some great thoughts in my head and a few roughs in my sketchbook, but I’m still planning to do a redesign before the year is out. My grasp of subtleties of CSS have also grown dramatically over that time as well. Along with that, I can finally deal with the subtle details that just haven’t sat right with me these past 18+ months.

During the first part of 2008, WordPress issued a new release with a spiffy new dashboard, courtesy of the fine folks at Happy Cog. Mike Davidson even jumped on the WordPress bandwagon. Motivated to tie the upgrade with a redesign, and the fact that I am actually getting real sleep again, I’m itching to pull this off sooner than later.

Recently, another wrench is thrown into the works. Jason Santa Maria has redesigned his site. The design is well done with lots of great details that pull it all together. But what really caught my eye was Jeffrey Zeldman’s remarks on the redesign. Zeldman referred to Jason’s redesign post as a “call to arms” for web art direction. By switching to Expression Engine, Jason gains the ability to create and apply different templates to different blog posts, while keeping an overarching theme for the entire site, much like print design does.

I admit this has been one of my frustrations with most content management systems on the web. Coming from a print design background, I’ve accepted, but haven’t enjoyed, being locked into one design with no option of variations outside of hard-coding pages. Now, with the ability to do this in Expression Engine, I’m strongly considering making the jump as well from WordPress to EE. Ideally, I would like to see someone develop a plug-in for WP that allows this type of design flexibility. Maybe by the time I’m actually able to start building the new design for this site, someone will.