A couple nights ago I sat down and combed through some of my old entries, looking for a particular one, and just having fun reading them while I was at it. It’s not something I do very often, but it’s really wonderful to be able to go back over your personal history, see how far you’ve come and what you’ve been through, read your own story like a book, take the power those memories give to you, and then turn your eyes forward to your future.
One of the career-related entries I most enjoyed reading was Redesign (Whoomp, There It Is). I’m so glad I included a screenshot of the original. (Ow, background! Lesson learned: when you’re talking about visual things, include a static copy of that visual thing for posterity. Don’t assume it’ll always be there.)
Still, the fact that this blog’s general design is almost four years old strikes me pretty hard. On the one hand, I feel like it has held up amazingly well. It doesn’t look outdated to me at all. It’s very sparse, and that helps it to age well. The only significant changes I’ve made since the “HOLY COW ORANGE STRIPES” design were to mercifully turn it green about six weeks after I had created it, and six months later, make the background slowly shift through the color wheel. (What, you haven’t noticed? Come off that RSS feed and just sit on the actual webpage for a minute.) OK, I also added a simplified, floating drawing of my own disembodied head in the upper left-hand corner, and recently fixed it to display properly in Firefox, too! Also, IE 7, but we’re not on speaking terms right now.
I have to acknowledge amidst all the cool stuff going on here, the design has some downsides. I talked to Kevin Hendricks over email today about some of the issues after he really baited the hook on Twitter. (Apparently living with me for a few years has given him knowledge of my reactionary nature.)
I think it’s fair to summarize our conversation by saying that Kevin believes my blog would be benefitted by having an “about” section and some kind of archive access for old entries, perhaps visible and accessible on each page. (Correct me if I’m wrong there, Kevin.) Such things come as part of the standard package on blogs, and you’ll notice they’re missing from mine. Almost everything is missing from mine, in fact, and that’s purposeful.
My response to Kevin was that while I understand on very rare occasions people will go spelunking around in my well-hidden archives (as I myself did recently), it’s not what the vast majority of my audience is doing. 99% of you guys are coming here to get the latest news, and move on. So I want to dedicate something reasonably near 99% of my UI to that task. Kevin rallied that archives and “about” info are useful in many situations. He also agreed that they don’t necessarily require a traditional “side bar” (where archives, widgets, and other little info bits gather on blogs), as I let slip I was planning something more unorthodox and dynamic.
In the past, I’ve promised a side bar. Now, I’m considering reneging on that altogether and never having one at all. It would take up about 200 pixels of width on my screen, and it takes those precious pixels from the main content area where my almighty text, awash in its own splendor, resides. I want that space. I’m protective of that space.
But even more so, I’m zealous about displaying less where less will do the job. I’ve got plenty of ideas on how to bring out additional functionality and widgets without forcing you to lose those pixels. What I need to hear from you is simple: do you want access to my archives? Is that useful? Have you ever missed them? The rest (an “about” page, additional personal info, etc.) I’m pretty much sold on, but I’m not sure about the archives.
What say you, gentle reader? Do you pine to scour the depths of my textual time capsule, or are you content in the here and now?