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Da New Theme

Posted 2010.11.14 9.28 in Computers/Internet/Technology

So I spent most of the day yesterday making a new theme for my site here. I started from scratch, no nabbing someone else’s theme that was ‘close’ and then modding it.

The goal was: Emphasize the ‘transmissions’ aspect, make it feel more like my posts were actual bulletins, radiograms, missives. Bring in an older ‘feel’, sort of retro vintage. I went with mostly monochrome because I like monochrome. There’s splashes of colour here and there of course. And some whimsey, insofar as there are the occasional elements of randomness.

Have I achieved my goal? No. Not yet, at least. The area that’s lacking the most is the header, which is kind of silly since it’s the bit you see first.

Still, I suppose that is the hardest part for me to get ‘perfect’ so I’ve left it till last and then thus-far only made a half-assed effort. It’s functional, but it’s not what I want.

The old theme hasn’t been removed, so I can fall back on that if the new look is overwhelmingly voted as hated-by-all, ugly-as-sin, or crimes-against-my-eyeballs.

In the mean-time, I’ll keep poking at the header till it looks at least halfway decent.

Cheers!

Update: Ok now I’m happy with the header. Sure, the secondary and tertiary dropdown menus aren’t great, but they only appear when you hover. I’m liking the scope and the screen and the buttons.

Mobilizing the Site

Posted 2009.07.25 16.06 in Computers/Internet/Technology

With mobile / handheld internet-enabled devices becoming more and more common, it makes sense to be able to offer one’s content in an alternative format that is geared towards serving the mobile devices. The small screen and alternative interface (i.e. no mouse etc.) can make browsing normal sites more of a challenge.

Mobile Version Screenshot

There is already at least one rather popular and very powerful WordPress plugin that creates a mobile version and serves it automatically to any browsers that it recognizes as belonging to the handheld class of devices. I’ve used it for a while, but there were some aspects of it that I did not like. First and formost was the theme – it was styled to look rather similar to an iPhone application I believe, and while that would be familiar to iPhone users, it meant that my unique scheme of colours and appearance were completely lost on the mobile platforms.

Then there were functional issues as well – I didn’t like how the posts were formatted, how the pages were handled, or that there did not appear to be any way to incorporate other unique content the way I wanted. I looked at the code and theme directories a few times but it seemed very complicated and like a lot of work to customize it. So in the end, I started from scratch and made my own mobile theme, based very much on my normal theme of course.

It remains optomized for handhelds, no graphics are served up on the home page, just text, which allows for quick loading and minimizes data transfer charges. It does include brief excerpts for the posts, and I have created a customized form of ‘sidebar’ which resides at the bottom of each page. I then created my own super-simplified plugin to drive the mobile version of the theme – the plugin code is based somewhat on the package I mentioned earlier, though my version has almost no features other than the barest minimum.

When I had finished it, I then created mobile-friendly but customized themes for my work’s web site, and my friend Lezley’s site. Lezley’s was a tough one, as she’s using ComicPress which makes some significant changes to how WordPress works, and building a new theme to be compatible with ComicPress as well as being mobile-friendly was a challenge.

To view the mobile versions, just head on over with your mobile device. Or if you’d like a preview, follow the links below. (It will look super-huge on a full size monitor, but that’s why it works on a mobile device.)

If  you have visited my site or one of these others with a mobile device but found either the mobile version does not appear for you, or it appears but the style is broken or aspects do not work, please contact me via the comments and let me know so I can fix it.