Ooh, There's a Shiny New Design Around Here!

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 3 min read

Well, the site looks different for the second time in the past 2 weeks. I hope you like it.

While the most recent change was basically a proof-of-concept to see if a few code bits worked and if purple was a good color choice (it is!), this should be the last change you see to the site for quite a while. Long time readers will immediately notice what has changed, so I won’t go into the details. Instead, I want to quickly touch on a few overarching feelings that pushed me to make the changes I have made.

I’d love to know what you think!

1. Focus (and realizing what’s best for you, not me)

Focus is something that us personal blogs can still get away with. While bigger sites have ads and click-through rates to worry about, I really only have to worry about making cool things that people enjoy.

Once I convinced myself of this simple fact, all became more clear. The side bar had to go; it was smooshing the actual content to one side of the page without adding much value. All images have also been removed, save for 2 very small links to my Facebook and Twitter pages. So what’s left?

  • Top left: Site name (where the heck you are)
  • Top right: My info (podcast link, how to follow me elsewhere)
  • Everything else: Content (the stuff you’re actually here to see)

In addition to gaining focus, I also gained performance. By stripping out everything extraneous, the site loads about 20-30% faster based on Google PageSpeed. We’re not talking Daring Fireball-levels of optimization, but it’s definitely better than before.

All of this makes the site better for you, dear reader. All the cruft was there mostly to make me happy. It didn’t add much to the site and was really just there so I could feel like I was “marketing” myself better. Maybe I’ll consider something different if traffic plummets, but I somehow doubt I’ll see any negative change at all.

2. Comments needed to go

I’m lucky that most of the comments I get on here are positive comments. I have amazing readers, thank you! But they’re not always great, and those few ruin it for the rest.

One of the last comments I got was on my Low Power Mode article. Someone said that I clearly don’t know anything about Android because I’ve only ever used a Moto E. Beyond being patently false, this comment just caused extra frustration that I didn’t need. I’m more than happy to take feedback on my work, but I don’t think I have to host those comments forever on my site.

My solution is a simple one: I now have a bit of text at the bottom of each post that reads, “Comments, concerns, or corrections? Get in touch on Twitter.” I want to hear from you guys, but the comments section on my site isn’t the best place when Twitter exists.

3. Typography

When you strip away everything else and just leave the “content”, that content had better look great. I think the site looks great, but my one hesitation is with the font choices. I’m using Futura for all headings and navigation, while using Tisa Sans Pro for the body text. I think they look great, but they’re not terribly original choices.

Futura, in particular, seems to be everywhere these days and it’s kind of cool to dislike this font due to it’s prominence. I’ve been a big fan of Futura for over a decade and I stand by it as a strong, distinctive, and legible display font.

Also, I tried dozens of other heading fonts and simply didn’t like anything better. Futura lives!

NOTE: There is currently a weird glitch in the layout on phones/tablets where the Previous and Next Article links are cramped together at the bottom of the page. I’m digging through the CSS to see what could possibly be causing this and will fix it as soon as I figure it out.