This post, being born

Finally, sort of finished.

This new site is my attempt at an outlet for a little bit of writing and a place to display some work. I’ve probably redesigned my own web site ten times in Photoshop, but this is the first to make it to realization in some time. A little about the site:

I’ve been looking for an excuse to build another site using ExpressionEngine as a CMS. I toyed around with a blog built on EE a year or so ago, but couldn’t update it frequently enough to make it worth while. Upon reflection I realized that a hybrid portfolio and blog would make much more sense, and might even result in an up to date portfolio.

Design

Designing for one’s self is tough. You tend to be motivated, but without any sort of budgetary contraints, it’s easy for a project to turn into a black hole of second-guessing. That said, the second-guessing paid off this time, as the last design wound up being the best design.

The layout finally came together when I decided to include the blog and portfolio on one page. Previous versions were too sparse. I feel like there’s enough on the page now to encourage a viewer to explore a bit.

The look is a hybrid of a sot of classical design style and the more blown-out, “California Dreamin’” look that I work in quite a bit these days. It’s reflective of my work, and my location.

Simplicity

I’ve kept the blog stripped down. No comments, tweet list, or social media chrome. Maybe I’ll add some of that later, but I’m not sure it’s necessary. If anyone reading has a comment to make, I encourage them to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) me or connect with me on Twitter. In my experience the signal to noise ratio of blog comments is pretty poor anyway.

ExpressionEngine

As I mentioned, the CMS is called ExpressionEngine. I’m running version 2.0 as of this writing. It’s technically still in beta, but it has so far been very stable, and the changes from v. 1.6 are relatively minor. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a full-featured, customizable CMS. It does require some work to get off the ground, however. ExpressionEngine is less theme oriented than WordPress, for instance, and the expectation is that you will be building layouts to suit your project, rather than modifying existing layouts.

TypeKit

I’m using typekit for my fonts. The whole thing is set in Proxima Nova, by Mark Simonson.

Typekit works well, but I ran into a couple issues. First, typekit’s rendering can wreak havoc if you use the overflow:auto or overflow:hidden methods of clearing floats. Second, the rendering kicks in late in Firefox (in version 3.5.7, anyway) causing the type to appear briefly in good ol’ Helvetica. I dealt with the first issue by switching to the clearfix:after float clearing method, as documented by Jeff Starr. For problem number two I‘m crossing my fingers that Small Batch will improve the javascript used in typekit so that rendering in Firefox is faster.

HTML5

The pages validate as HTML5 (or at least they should, and do as of this moment), and where sensible I have used HTML5 structural markup, including section, header, article, and time elements. These elements, because of their semantically-specific nature, made writing the markup easier. I found that once I had to stop building with generic <div> tags it was easier to build a coherent hierarchy. I recommend making the leap to HTML5 as soon as is appropriate for your site or project.

CSS3

I have also used a few CSS3 features, including box-shadow, text-shadow, and the rgba color model. Unfortunately they are, for the time being, implemented only in Webkit and Mozilla browsers. Ah well.

Oh yeah, browsers.

If you’re using Internet Explorer, even version 8, the site is broken in at least one small way right now. The portfolio pieces, when opened by clicking on the thumbnails, is unstyled. Why? Who knows. It’s Internet Explorer. I will fix this in short order, because I want the site to render correctly in IE8. IE7 and below are a different story. They can render however they want.

And, at last, content

What will I write about here? Assuming I can maintain interest I’ll be posting about things that are important to me in life: music, politics, art, beer, etc. My goal is really just to work on my writing a bit and share ideas. If some of the pieces I publish are of interest to a handful of folks, I’ll feel good about that.

Left to do

There is a fair amount of work left, but it’s mostly back end stuff that will be invisible to the reader. On the list:

  1. Clean up the CSS
  2. Make final (or not) decisions about comments, a twitter feed, etc.
  3. Probably many, many layout tweaks
  4. Fixes for IE8
  5. Disclaimer for users of IE7 and below

And, hello!

On the off chance that you read all of this and you have an opinion, share it! The internet is lonely, you know.