Mutton dressed as lamb

First of all, my apologies if you were around and about in the early hours of Monday morning, and tried to look at my blog, and found that I’d made it private.  It wasn’t that I was having a meltdown (this time…), it was just that I didn’t want to have changes appear in a piecemeal way.  I wanted to have my changes appear altogether, like I had some kind of coherent design vision.  Or something.

So, yes, I’ve re-designed the blog.  I’ve been prodded into it by a couple of things, most noticeably the big re-launch by The Artist Formerly Known As Teenage Misanthropy But Now Known As Bescheuert.  His blog is full of exciting and sexy newness, in content as well as form, and next to it my tired old green-and-red looked truly hideous.  In contrast, my blog, for all it’s in new packaging, still has the same rubbishy old content it’s always had, so I guess you could see this as the equivalent of a slightly seedy looking 37-year-old desperately trying to look young by putting on clothes that are 20 years too young for him.  Or something…

Anyway, what do you make of it?

I think it’s ok – certainly an improvement on the old layout that even I was never really a fan of.  I think this is a bit cleaner, and more elegant, and I hope I’ve managed to strip away some of the excess clutter – having the Archives and Categories as drop-downs certainly helps with that, I think.  I also hope the new header image is a bit less tawdry than the old one; in any case the mixture of greys and blues ought to be slightly easier on the eye than the rather jarring contrast between blood red and pea green that the previous theme and header combination led to.

It’s hard for me to be 100% sure about the look, because the new design has been optimised for people with bigger monitors than me – I came to realise that I’m pretty much unique in struggling along with my ancient 800 x 600 15”display (though if you are a fellow 800 x 600-er, I haven’t completely abandoned you – you should be able to read the text of the posts without scrolling to the right, it’s just the sidebar you won’t get the whole of).  Certain aspects of the design don’t look that great at the resolution I’m looking at them – in particular, the font size and some of the spacings seem too big, even florid – but I figure they should look ok at 1024 x 768 or higher.  (Coming at the issue of screen-size from the other end, I’ve also enabled re-formatting of the blog if you’re accessing it on a mobile device, although given the screeds of text I post, I can’t imagine reading on a phone is ever going to be a particularly rewarding experience – lots of scrolling.)

Probably the thing I’m happiest about is the Blogroll – last time I redesigned I spent ages bitching about the fact that I couldn’t get the RSS feeds of blogs to display under the link to each blog.  As it turns out I still haven’t been able to sort it out in quite the way I want – if you try and click on the blog title for the two posterous blogs (Graham Linehan and Ben Goldacre), you’ll see that the link doesn’t point anywhere useful, and for blogs hosted on Blogger the link is to the feed rather than the front page of the blog – but there’s no question that I’ve got much closer to what I wanted to achieve this time around.  The other potential problem with the blogroll is that it is very long, and this is something that’s exacerbated by the fact that I’ve taken the decision to abandon the idea of sub-dividing it (although the links to professional media – by which I mean the people producing it are being paid; I’m not casting aspersions on the quality of writing/ research on the proper blogs; far from it – are still separated off).  The reason I decided to abandon sub-division is that it’s almost impossible to separate out the bulk of the blogs I link to; most of the people I follow write about a whole range of topics.

Anyway, I’d be very interested to know what you think of it, if you feel like giving me feedback.  I know this sounds like I’m fishing for compliments, but what I mean is that any guidance about things that you don’t like, or that don’t work, or are clumsy or awkward to deal with would be greatly appreciated.  In particular, I’d be interested to know if there are any problems with loading the page.  I’ve noticed a bit of a lag, and while I don’t think it’s anything out of the ordinary – WordPress has never been lightning fast – it would be good to get other perspectives on that.

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11 Responses to Mutton dressed as lamb

  1. LittleFeet says:

    I like the changes. That is all.

  2. Katherine says:

    It looks good! No page-load lag either.

    I do sometimes look at your blog on my phone, believe it or not, so phone-friendly formatting is appreciated.

  3. aethelreadtheunread says:

    Thanks for the comments.

    Little Feet – thank you. :o)

    Katherine – thank you, and thanks for the info re. page loading. :o)

  4. gun street girl says:

    I dig it completely!

    (big monitor, looks great)

  5. eludingthemaelstrom says:

    I like it. It looks really good.

  6. Kapitano says:

    Yep, it looks good – clean and neat.

    I’m doing a piecemeal redesign of mine, though it won’t be extensive. Drop the labels, consolidate the blogrolls, put in a few graphics…and add the sideblog, which I really wish I’d done years ago, as it suits my impulsive way of writing much better. Maybe it’d be good for you too?

    But I generally find the the little design details you and I obsess over don’t make much difference to the reader. When reading, we usually just accept whatever layout we’re given, and get on with reading. My blog is blue for two reasons – (1) I like blue and (2) years ago one person complained that they didn’t like it black.

    Ah, but I see you’ve added RSS links. So excuse me while I just go and copy you….

  7. cb says:

    OK, this time I copied your theme.. I hope you’ll forgive me :) Needless to say, I really like it :)

  8. penniesinourpockets says:

    I could stare at the ocean picture for ages.
    whole thing looks good.

  9. Cellar_Door says:

    I like. It’s smart :-)

  10. Alex says:

    >>His blog is full of exciting and sexy newness, in content as well as form

    Aww, thank you. ^_^

    >>self-deprecatory things

    Nonsense. I do like the new look a lot, though. And you’ve certainly got me beat in efficiency; took me months to get my blog looking halfway readable, and you’ve managed a complete redesign overnight. I’m half-tempted to steal the RSS feed sidebar, actually. Plus, I know it’s a little thing, but I like the æ in the header image – makes me think I should’ve done that with the pronounciation symbols on mine. Curses, outdone again! ;)

  11. aethelreadtheunread says:

    Thanks for the extra comments, and sorry for the delay in replying – it doesn’t mean they’re not appreciated!

    gun street girl – Thanks, and thanks for the info regarding a bigger monitor, it’s good to know. :o)

    eludingthemaelstrom – Thanks. :o)

    Kapitano – Thanks. :o) I’ve been noticing the gradual introduction of changes at your blog, most notably the sideblog, and I’m a definite fan. I’ve toyed with the idea of having one before now, particularly for linking to interesting things I’ve stumbled across but don’t really have an awful lot to say about. In the end what’s put me off is that sideblogs pretty much by definition require brevity, and brevity isn’t really my strong suit. As you may have noticed… ;o) I await your further changes with interest!

    cb – Thanks, and given how gracious you were when I ripped off your design last time round (only pausing long enough to combine it with some other elements that made my blog look hideous where yours looked good), I really wouldn’t be in a position to complain, even if i wanted to, which I don’t. :o) Needless to say, immediately after submitting this comment, I’ll be off to have a good nose around yours!

    pennies in our pockets – Thanks. :o) Pleased you like the picture of the sea, too.

    Cellar_Door – Thanks. :o) And if it is smart then it’s really nothing like its creator…

    Alex – Thanks. :o) In terms of efficiency, well, I guess I ought to own up and admit that I was trying out elements of the design on a specially-created private blog for most of Sunday, and working out how I could get the RSS feeds to work, and so on. So it’s actually the product of quite a few hours of concentrated effort, even if the blog wasn’t actually down for that long. Feel free to make use of the RSS sidebar – it’s hardly unique to me – and, needless to say, I haven’t come even remotely close to out-doing you. :o)

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