I said my target was the 1st of August, and, after much drawing, coding, CSS-tweaking, and Textpattern hacking, the all-new po-ru.com is here.
In order to forestall some potential criticisms, I’ll try to address them first, and explain the rationale behind various aspects.
First, yes, the old red and orange colour scheme is gone, although it may come back in the future. I really liked it, but all my attempts to build on it were unsuccessful until I threw it all away and started afresh from a different direction. The only remaining thematic element from the old design is the logo—and even that has been redrawn from scratch. I abandoned the old cityscape (the Seine and Paris viewed from atop the Eiffel Tower) and used another favourite photograph as my point of departure. This one is also a city at night (what can I say? I just like nocturnal urban vistas), in this case Osaka’s Shinsaibashi district.
I also know that this layout is more plain than the old one. That’s partly deliberate. It’s all about the content, stupid. Furthermore, this isn’t 1995, and we don’t have to shoehorn everything into table-based layouts—not even with Internet Explorer’s godforsaken level of CSS support. In fact, I’ve taken most of my influence from printed media this time round. I’ve abandoned the boxes around everything because such artificial divisions of content were beginning to place a restriction on how I thought about the content itself. This simpler layout is much freer and more flexible in terms of what goes inside.
Also on the subject of content, you might notice that hyperlinks are now rather understated, being identified with just an underline. This is because, in most cases, links are incidental to the content, the flow of which is ill-served by a rainbow of lurid hyperlinks. I ought also to add that I never use underlines stylistically in my own writing—I consider them a typewriter-influenced abomination—so there won’t be any visual ambiguity over what is or is not a link.
I’m using reasonably large fonts and generous leading (line spacing) simply because it’s easier to read. Yes, Shaun Inman’s site is beautiful, but by Baal it’s hard to read his tiny grey-on-white main body text! I’m mindful of the fact that not everyone on the web is under thirty. You can even bump up the font size without the layout breaking, although CSS is not nearly as flexible in that regard as I’d like. I’ve always kept a short line length on this site for the simple reason that it’s easier to read, and that has not changed. There are the occasional oddballs who complain about the underuse of their nineteen-inch monitor space, but I believe that most readers prefer it.
Serifs. I have always used sans-serif fonts throughout in the past. I even used Verdana. It looks great with old-skool jaggedy font rendering, but on my Mac and Linux machines, I’m using very good sub-pixel anti-aliasing that makes serif faces display properly on screen. (Even Windows XP’s font smoothing is better than nothing, although I personally think it’s inferior to the OS X approach.) So, for me at least, serif fonts are simply more pleasant to read. If you hate serifs, you can configure your browser never to show them again, so don’t blame me.
Speaking of browsers, I’ve tested this layout on
- Internet Explorer 6
- Internet Explorer 5.2 for Mac
- Safari 2.0
Some of which were more trouble than others. IE:Mac wasn’t too bad; IE6 was its usual obstreporous self, hence the profanity-laden invective in its special CSS file. Internet Explorer versions below 6 on Windows will look like crap, and I don’t care in the slightest. I have a mixture of contempt and pity for anyone that still uses it. Contempt because they haven’t taken advantage of the zero-cost upgrades or replacements available, which is basic maintenance for using a connected computer—it’s like running a car without checking the oil. Pity because it has so many security holes that any computer using IE5 on the big bad internet must be crawling with malware. In fact, if you can actually get online and view this website using IE5 in 2005, you probably deserve a medal. But you can’t have one. So don’t ask.
Also new is a commenting system. I’m not sure how this is going to work out, but I’m trying it as an experiment for now. You can tell me how much my new design sucks below! More usefully, if there is anything that looks obviously wrong, please do tell me.