Thursday, April 13, 2006

My new Blogger template

Ta-daaa! My very own personally customized hand-crafted Blogger template!

Doug Bowman's
Minima, which I had been using for over a year, had that element of simplicity which attracted me from the very start. However, it was sort of generic in its ubiquity in the Blogspot universe. I had been itching to create my very own design for a long while now, and it was only in the last couple of days that I finally got my act together.

In my old age, I've become a slow learner so it took me a while to get the hang of all the special Blogger template tags, not to mention the various tricks involving CSS with which to manipulate the final output. And since I didn't want to start with a whole lot of clutter, I had to do everything from scratch. In any case, the Blogger help pages were very helpful in this regard.

The color scheme looks a little too blue, but that's my own preference. Besides, I wanted something that matched my Blogger toolbar's color. I used's color picker robot to choose the appropriate colors. I got there by way of's blog template tutorial.

I initially wanted a cartoon avatar to grace the identity column, but then I realized a stylized logo would do just as well. I used Nate Piekos' Village Idiot font (naturally), manipulating the logo in Inkscape and The GIMP.

The Chinese characters were an added touch that happened by accident. I was looking for the Chinese character for "home" to use as the link image for the item pages. Jun Shan's Chinese Culture section at was most helpful. Along the way, I found the phrase for "follow your dreams," so that's what I added to the logo. I hope that's what it really means.

For the blogrolls, I decided to just use Bloglines service, and never mind the linkback. This ties the blogrolls to the blogs that I actually read.

One dilemma: optimize for 1024x768 or 800x600? Ultimately, I opted for the higher resolution, at least for the front page. Viewers using 800x600 might need to scroll left-to-right at the main page, but should manage quite nicely in the Archive and Item pages. Besides, I like the four-column layout and there's really no way to fit that in 800x600.

Also: the return of the Google ads. I have so far earned a grand total of $11.02 in all my two years, which tells you not to come to me for blog monetization advice. But I thought I'd give it another go. I even fixed up the color scheme to fit more closely with mine. Who knows, a few people might accidentally click on them. Snigger.

The feature which I like best is the truncated summary of the entries on the front page, which leads to the full entries on the item pages. I think this will make my blog easier to read, especially since I have the occasional kilometric post. I had some trouble getting it to work despite following instructions to the letter, but it turns out I placed a comment line in the style section of my header when I shouldn't have.

I also added a summary of recent comments at the bottom of the main page. I think this gives the blog a bit more variety and interaction.

Still a couple more features I plan to add involving categorization and links. Tomorrow, for sure.

In the meantime, I'm happy.