Like many designers, I can only go so long with a site design before I start getting the itch to have a new look. While I’m still tweaking here and there, it’s mostly complete- what do you think? (the screenshot is for the benefit of my subscribers of course)
I wanted to use the 960 Grid for this design, and looked around for a blank canvas theme built on the grid to save time. I found a pretty good one (only had to fight with it a little) in the 960bc theme. This was my first use of a framework and I’m totally sold on it. It makes everything SO much easier. If you haven’t tried using a grid system, check out this tutorial.
I used CSS sprites for the first time with this site for the navigation. Just like the grid system, I’m wondering what took me so long, as it’s relatively easy. I found this tutorial to be helpful. In case you’re not familiar with sprites, the basic principle is that you design one image and just adjust the background position as needed. For example, here’s one of my navigation images. I just adjust the background position by -38px on the hover state. I could have put the whole navigation in one image, but I thought I’d start out simple on my first try. For a more complex example, check out how Ryan Imel uses a large sprite very effectively in his site.
I’m using the media settings within WordPress to manage the homepage thumbnail sizes. I just set the thumbnail and medium settings to the size I needed and it automatically generates the sizes I need!
The font for headings, navigation and logo is a wonderful font called Museo– three of the weights are totally free! I used the AnyFont plugin so I could have the same font for my widget headings. The social media icons are by Function and I found them on MySocialButtons (where else?). Other plugins that are useful in the new design are :
GetTheImage – automatically generates thumbnails in the archive and articles pages)
Advanced Random Posts – after 2+ years of blogging there’s a lot of good content that can easily get buried.
FlexiQuote Rotator – to manage my testimonials
Tweet This – for the submission links to Twitter, etc below each post.
I’m still looking for some things to put in my sidebar on internal pages. Any suggestions? If you have any comments or suggestions, or find any problems I haven’t caught, please feel free to share in the comments.