Hire and Pay a Designer and Be Happy
I got a haircut today. And I hired a designer to redo my blog theme. Both of these things put a pep in my step. I feel SO much better now.
I hear that there's supposed to be some kind of unicorn out there called a "devigner" that is both an amazing designer AND an amazing coder. I can only assume these mystery people are also pretty, well dressed, socially adept, and good at Halo. All I know is that I'm NOT that person.
When you meet a designer who really "gets" you, you've found a gem. I explained the feeling, the texture, the style, and the elements of what I wanted to designer Jeremy Kratz. Jeremy also designed Stack Overflow, in fact, although I only learned of that after I hired him. Isn't that an amazing coincidence? Funny how these things work out.
Of course, if you are reading this post via RSS, you don't care and that's fine. If you are actually here on the site, you'll see that the new design has a light CSS media query and some specific widths and min-width's set to make the site look better on your mobile device or tablets, as well as low-resolution screens. Basically any browser that supports CSS media queries will have the right bar removed when resized to under 1024 pixels wide, while still looking pretty nice at sizes as small as about 700 wide.
Here's how you do a CSS media query. This is basic, certainly, but it's a clean way to get a good looking site on a large monitor, tablet, and most smart phones.
@media screen and (max-width:1024px)
There's a new navigation bar and search at the top with quick access to podcasts and videos both here and on Channel 9. Also check out the newly styled Calendar View if you want to see posts by month or year. There's also the ridiculous Archive of every post I've ever done by category. Comments are styled more cleanly and are easier to follow now as well. In the upper corner is the Feed, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.
There's no way I could have done this. I'd been messing about here and there with my blog over the last few years trying to update it, remove some things, make it fresher. I was fooling myself into thinking that skills with CSS were design skills. I was fooling myself that having good taste and style meant I could design myself out of a web paper sack. Just because you like nice shoes doesn't mean you'd make a good shoe designer.
I was even thinking I'd have to move off of DasBlog onto something like WordPress. I wasn't sure if DasBlog (which is pretty long in the tooth right now) could handle it. The thing is, though, that this has been a pretty high traffic few weeks and DasBlog has pushed a million page views on this single little box since the first if July. It has survived two Slashdottings, a FireBalling, and being on the home page of HackerNews three times in that period. At the same time, I've watched sad little WordPress blogs get decimated when they got similar traffic, tipping over easily.
The fact is, I like DasBlog. It's got no database, it's fast as hell, and it's more flexible than I give it credit for. I was thrilled that Jeremy was able to create a new DasBlog-specific theme and I was able to drop it in and get it working in 5 minutes. I'm still tinkering here and there, but it's done and it's lovely.
This new site design looks great in every awesome browser like Opera, IE9, Chrome, FireFox, and even all the way back to IE7. It looks like a steaming pile of ass in IE6. As it should.
Coincidentally there's new other designs coming on some sites that I'm either directly involved in or orbiting in an advisory capacity, so expect to see some dramatic changes on sites like http://www.asp.net and mini-sites like http://microsoft.com/net over the next few days and weeks.
Thanks, Dear Reader. Now, go hug your friendly neighborhood designer. They are better at this than you.