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 Wellstyled.com's color picker robot to choose the appropriate colors. I got there by way of Photoshopsupport.com'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 About.com 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 del.icio.us links. Tomorrow, for sure.

In the meantime, I'm happy.

6 comments:

  1. Real men roll out their own blog software! :-P

    Heh, I remember when we were trying to figure out how to serve html pages dynamically using TCL and CGI. Fun times.

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  2. Oh, yeah. Good times. And how long ago was that? Eight, nine years ago? Man, we're old.

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  3. Until you mentioned the actual font in your entry, I assumed that you made the logo yourself. :)

    Frankly, however, I think that $11.02's a fine amount for a blog. It's not quite problogger (or splogger/linkstealer) level, but it's good for a blog that has some very substantial content.

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  4. Thanks, Sean. Actually, I've gone up another dollar or so since I updated my template. Hmmm....

    So, do you want me to do yours? ;-)

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