Bridal bouquet

Something Old, New, Borrowed, & Blue

Last week I quietly re-launched carriedils.com. I say “quietly” because I knew there were bugs and I didn’t want to broadcast to the world. So why the heck did I launch an unfinished site? Well, I’d rather push something out the door that’s not 100% polished than sit on it indefinitely. As Matt Muellenweg put it so well, if you’re not embarrassed when you ship your first version you waited too long.

Who cares?

You may not give a rat’s patootie about the new look around here, in which case, I suggest leaving to view this video. For those of you who are curious, I’d like to share the reasons behind what I did and how I hope that better serves the needs of you, my readers. To do my telling, I’ll start with an old English rhyme referring to what a bride should wear for good luck on her wedding day.

Something old,
something new,
something borrowed,
something blue…

Something Old

I started with something old… my blog. Everything’s still pretty much the same except for more well-defined category navigation and an added search component (the fact that I turned to Google to find my content instead of using my site was a clue that it was time to add better search).

carriedils.com screenshot of headerWith this site redo, my hope is better organization will help you more quickly connect with the content you’re interested in.

Something New

A few months ago I started a weekly podcast called Genesis Office Hours. Each week I go live on the air with successful folks in the WordPress community and take questions sent in via our Google+ community or Twitter (#gohchat).

Let me tell you something: I’m having a blast doing the podcast and participation/engagement continues to grow. But you’d never know it from looking at my website. From now on, I’ll highlight upcoming podcasts on the home page and use a dedicated podcast page as a launchpad for folks to find episodes live (and past).

An important thing to note: I’ll no longer send out my show notes to my regular blog subscribers. Instead, I’ve set up a separate email list just for GOH folks and I’ll send a reminder email before each episode if you want to tune in to watch or have questions for the guests. I really hope you’ll join in one of these Thursdays – I guarantee you a fun show and you might even learn something. ;)

Something Borrowed

Once upon a time, there was a podcast that was so amazing that the only title that could reflect the level of awesome that was WP Bacon. But then the amazing creators of WP Bacon moved on to other projects … and left a pretty sweet theme behind. So, I borrowed some inspiration and code base from the WP Bacon theme.

I deconstructed it thoroughly and put it back together again with the components that made sense for this site. Mostly, I loved the podcast archives layout, so thanks to Rob Neu for creating the wheel that enabled me not to have to re-create a wheel. Or something like that.

Something Blue

Earlier this year I shared that web accessibility was on my mind. Making my site more accessible has stayed on the front burner, so part of the ongoing improvements to my theme (and content) will involve tackling poor accessibility one issue at a time. The first issue out the gate (and where the “something blue” comes from) is my color scheme. For folks who can’t decipher colors well, contrast is very important. To help with readability, I used a color contrast checker to help select the colors for the site.

I still have a lot of improvements to make where accessibility is concerned, but we each have to start somewhere, right?

So this is it!

If you’re still around for the end of this article, thanks for sticking with me through the changes and please let me know if there’s something else you’d like to see on carriedils.com.

Carrie Dils

I’m a recommended Genesis Developer with 15+ years experience in web design and development. I'm creative, resourceful, and ready to put my mind to your project. Want to discuss your WordPress project? Let's talk!

Comments

  1. Carolyn Y says

    Looks great, and I like the changes except that you won’t be sending GOH notes anymore. I liked the summary, will you posting them on your blog, or somewhere else?

    • says

      Thank you Carolyn! I’ll still be sending out GOH updates – watch for one later today! They’re just not going to be blasted with my post RSS feed so that folks can opt out of that if they don’t care.

  2. says

    I love the blue – and if you had told me you were using blue, I would have thought you were nuts! It’s just the right amount of color.

    My FAV part, though, is the Podcast page. I’ve been secretly coveting that since I first saw it. We’ve struggled with better ways to showcase our Hangouts at work, and I need a better way to share them on my personal sites. I had a feeling no plugin could make it look this good! :-)

  3. says

    Really beautiful redesign, Carrie. It looks great.

    And I love the Lato font you’re using. I’ve used Raleway and Muli, but I’m loving Lato even more. I noticed this in your code:

    -webkit-font-smoothing: antialiased;

    I’m not sure what that means. Does it somehow change how the font looks, or am I seeing Lato as it was designed?

    I love your website and always enjoy your posts.

    Carla

    • says

      Hey Carla,
      The anti-aliasing just renders the font a little smoother in certain browsers (Chrome, for instance). Here’s a nice intro article on the subject. You never can account for every OS/browser variation, but that’s just one little trick to help with consistency.

      Cheers,
      Carrie

  4. says

    ” if you’re not embarrassed when you ship your first version you waited too long.”

    This is one of the differences between today’s generation of application developers (especially coders) and that of the previous generation… or the generation before that.

    I started coding in 1975 and in those days the applications we wrote did important and meaningful work… such as updating five million checking accounts each night at a bank or adjudicated tens of thousands of medical claims for an insurance company or was the brains behind a heart-lung machine or perhaps the space shuttle or sophisticated weaponry.

    It was part of ‘our’ culture to get it right the first time. Thus, we would test and re-test hoping to catch the bugs. We knew that there were real consequences for system failure.

    These days, there is so less importance put on quality. The ‘release early and often’ paradigm that is embraced by so many developers seems to be indicative of this generation of programmers with respect to the pride that they have in their craft…. which obviously is not all that much!

    Of course, back then we didn’t catch all the bugs and systems would crash (and we’d come in in the middle of the night to fix them) but we did our very best to put a finished product in production… not a half-baked one… if for no other reason than our name was actually in the (COBOL) code:

    IDENTIFICATION DIVISION.
    PROGRAM-ID. SAMPLE2.
    AUTHOR. MARY JONES
    ENVIRONMENT DIVISION.
    INPUT-OUTPUT SECTION.
    FILE-CONTROL.
    SELECT CUSTOMER-FILE
    ASSIGN TO “C:\PCOBWIN\CIS12FST\C12FIRST.DAT”.
    SELECT CUSTOMER-REPORT
    ASSIGN TO PRINTER.
    DATA DIVISION.

    and, if you are a real dinosaur like me, in the assembler code:

    PRINT NOGEN
    ****************************************************************
    * FILENAME: HELLO.MLC *
    * AUTHOR : Susan Smith *
    * SYSTEM : PC/370 R4.2 *
    * REMARKS : This program will display a message. *
    ****************************************************************
    START 0
    REGS
    BEGIN BEGIN
    WTO MESSAGE
    RETURN
    MESSAGE DC C’Hello world!’
    END BEGIN

    I sure hope that the code that is running the computers on the jet aircraft that I’m flying out on next week was written by a team that has a bit more concern for quality than ‘just getting it out there.’

    • says

      Al, last time I checked, my theme wasn’t responsible for safely transporting humans. I think you missed the spirit of the quote – read Matt’s article that was linked.

  5. says

    Carrie, I read the article and nowhere in it does Mr. Mullenweg use the word or even imply the term “quality.” His message (at least to me!) is “just get it out there… warts and all… because being first is more important than being best.”

    The only place in his piece that you see the word “quality” is in the comments made by the readers… the best one being by Steve Odette who remarked:

    “However, there is something to be said for just developing the CORE or initial launch with absolute quality.”
    http://ma.tt/2010/11/one-point-oh/#comment-490574

    As I say, it is generational… a total ‘attitude shift’ between how we used to ‘do it’ and today’s ‘throw away’ mentality.

    Programmers today have been trained (perhaps via Microsoft) to believe that “There is never enough time to do it right, but there is always enough time to do it over!”

    We do lots of sites for book authors and publishers (mainly because I’ve owned a book publishing company for 25 years so it is a warm market for us.) In our web shop we do not take on projects where timeline is more important than quality.

    If we can’t do it ‘right’ to our standards, we pass on the job.

    Nothing leaves our shop until it has been not only extensively tested technically (by me) but also ‘blessed’ by my partner who is a ‘world-class (IMO!)’, awarding-winning graphic artist in the book biz.

    When I was coming up (i.e. with EDS in the 1070s… because I’m older than dirt!) the tech people ‘ran the show’ and we told management (i.e. the client) “It will ‘ship’ when its done… and it’s done when we say it’s done!” We built the quality in, not added it on later.

    These days, ‘the show’ is run by (vulture capital) bean-counters who tell us (the tech staff) “We don’t want it good, we want it Tuesday!”

    So on what I see is the take-away message of your blog-post, Carrie, we will have to agree to disagree.

    BTW, I really do like your new site. It is time for us to modernize ours… but it’s the ‘shoemaker’s children going barefoot’ issue with us. Where do we find the time? :-)

    • says

      Hi Al,
      Disagreeing is fine (and most welcome), but painting such a broad brush over all generations past your own and the state of a product (WordPress) that you make at least part of your living from is a bit over-the-top.

      You’re right about finding time to do our own sites and the “shoemaker’s children” syndrome, which re-enforces my original statement of if I waited until I had a fully-realized vision for my site and fleshed out each of those features, I’d never have a site. At some point, warts and all, we jump.

      Cheers,
      Carrie

  6. Ginger says

    The blue is ALMOST purple ;-) I like it. Like the Podcast page and menu, easier to locate. I saved 2 web clips to Evernote for fonts and colors :-) HOWEVER, my favorite takeaway is those sexy share buttons….I’ll be wantin’ some of those!

  7. says

    Goodness me, Ms. Dils, you have outdone yourself :)

    The new site looks beautifully simple and clean. Love what you’ve done.

    I also want to say that I really appreciate your super accessible and friendly communication (both speaking and writing) style. Whenever I read your posts or hear you speak, I feel like you’re a great friendly voice in the web community. Many thanks!

  8. Angie Vale says

    Hi Carrie, The new site looks great and is much easier to navigate. Dare I ask if you used Sass on this new site? I keep saying I will learn it on my next project!

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