About a week and a half ago I put up a short post about the creation of the newest Gnorb.NET theme. Almost two weeks and two tons of advice later the theme is now ready for use in production. In short, here’s the theme, enjoy. However, if you really want to know more about why this is such a big change (aside from it looking a whole lot better), keep on reading.
Before I start I’d like to give a special thank you to the folks without whose assistance this project would have both taken longer and not been anywhere nearly as successful. (These are listed in no particular order other than maybe when they chirped in. Maybe. In any case, note that all of these are people who I highly respect, making the process all the better.)
- Derek Punsalan: The Gnorb.NET 4.0 theme is based off of Derek’s “Grid Focus” theme, which not only offered an extremely flexible layout to workwith, but also allowed for the introduction of a few key features (most notably the new “Categories” listing).
- Ronald Heft: A couple of times throughout this process I had somewhat in depth, WordPress/PHP related questions which Ronald answered both quickly and completely, by showing me not only what I should do but why I should do it. The cool thing was that he did this more than once. (The “Best of the Best” list at the bottom and the Pownce plugin used in the “Random Thoughts” section are both direct results of his help).
- Hrafn Thórisson: When I put up the Sandbox post (where I first announced the new theme) Hrafn (a.k.a. hthth) was the first person to jump in and tell me what he saw as the strengths and weaknesses of the theme, and it was his comment that gave me the confidence to know that I wasn’t doing something stupid.
- Joe Lencioni: Joe was the first to offer his thoughts when I asked for opinions in the super secret 9Rules Member forums, answering one very specific question about how to avoid having the theme look like total crap in Internet Explorer versions 6 and previous. (Really, you people using that should be using at least IE 7, if not Opera or Firefox.)
- Ben Gillbanks: Honestly, I was actually really surprised to get Ben’s help. For years I’ve been reading his blog, Binary Moon, but I make it a point to go to his page instead of using the RSS feed. Why? The guy’s such a good designer that every time I go to his page I just about lick my screen so I can taste the design. I actually remember thinking “Oh my God, this is so cool!” when he offered his comments. Yeah, I know: fanboyish. Everyone’s a fan of someone, right? By the way, Ben’s responsible for the “Regulus” WordPress theme.
- Abi Jones: Abi came at this from the angle of the blatantly obvious, stuff I totally missed and am still wondering how the hell I did. It’s because of her that you can now increase the font size one notch up without making the site look like total crap. As someone who uses that functionality all the time, I’m still wondering why I didn’t think of that.
I believe that’s about it. If you helped and I missed you, my apologies: please know I am super grateful.
Now, about those extra features. Aside from the fact that the site is now much cleaner, it is also somewhat more dynamic.
- On the front page there are now only five (5) articles. This was done in order to keep the scrolling to a minimum. A big “Older Posts” link can be found directly below the front page posts, allowing you to read as far back as your heart desires.
- The two regions at the bottom of the front page list a bunch of links — for friends, for articles, for my own other sites, for visitors. Again, these only appear on the front page because, frankly, do you really have to see these everywhere?
- Likewise, the sidebar has a few pieces of content that only appear in pages. These are designed to draw your attention to recent and related content. Also, there’s the Random Thoughts section, which is actually an RSS feed of my public Pownce messages (thanks again to Ronald Heft for that plugin). Additionally, there are a few networking links on the side of stories (no longer will there be a garish line of icons at the bottom of articles), and I’ve gotten rid of all the sloppy looking RSS icons. (Frankly, I wish these people would use a standard icon for their “Add to your RSS reader” link. W3C where are you? Are you still relevant?) The only outside links there are the random 9Rules links at the bottom of the sidebar. Go ahead, hit “Refresh” a few times and discover some great blogs.
- Finally, you’ll also see a slightly more muted advertisement scheme. This may change, though, once I start actually selling advertisement, including trading it in exchange for site customizations (like, say, a new banner or RSS button). Of course, if you want to advertise here money works just fine, too.
Anyway that’s about it. enjoy the theme, go visit some awesome blogs by clicking on the links above (or the 9Rules links in the sidebars) and enjoy some content. I’d really be interested in hearing what you think, and if you find any weirdness, please tell me (as well as the browser and operating system you were using when you saw the weirdness).