Meet Hoffman

Even though I’m supposed be on hiatus, I can’t keep my fingers away from the site.

Back when I started working for BEKK, I was sent to boot camp. It’s not the kind of boot camp you think it is, though. Instead of getting yelled at, and being forced to take push ups, the company coach all their new employees through the ins and outs of being an exceptional consultant. One of the sessions during boot camp was by Aslak Hellesøy. The session was about creativity, and being the creator of Cucumber, Hellesøy knows a thing or two about the subject.

One thing that have stuck with me from his speech, was about making sure we stay creative. Hellesøy made small changes every day. Instead of taking the same route to work all the time, he took different routes. He didn’t wear the same style of clothes every day, but regularly changed his style slightly. And he rarely had the same desk at work for a long time. Instead, he changed desks often.

Independent Publishing

The site’s design is beginning to feel stale again. I’m popping in at least once a day, just to check that everything is A-OK, and now I’m starting to get too used to how things look around here. The current theme, the Editör, was introduced a little over a year, and one year seems to be the expiration date for most of the designs I’ve used on this site.

There is an almost infinite amount of WordPress themes available, both free and premium. And, man, have I looked at a lot of them to find the right look, feel, and feature set. I was close to shelling out $50 for a theme that probably would have worked without too much tweaking, but decided I couldn’t rationalize spending that much money now on something like that. So, in the end, I’ve resolved to trying a basic, but clean, open source theme called Independent Publisher.

Independent Publisher is a good staring point for a theme, but it has a few shortcomings, most of them related to navigation. But it’s nothing a few tweaks can fix. And since it’s all open source, maybe I can contribute something back to the original project. I’ve already had one pull request approved, so things are moving along.

The plan is to make enough changes to the CSS so that my highly customized A Picture a Day and A Book a Month sections look all right, then activate the theme. That means that many features, like the use of my very own wp-days-ago WordPress plugin, will disappear – but it won’t be anything you can’t live without. The actual content will still be here, and I’m aiming to gradually add everything that goes missing again over time.

Update: And we’re live! A lot of missing features, and some minor bugs. But that’s to be expected after only four or so hours of work. I’m way past my usual bedtime, so it’s time to head off to sleep. If you notice any major issues, please let me know.

Say Hello to the Editör

After an unhealthy amount of hours, I’ve finally managed to put together a new design. I was originally looking to buy a precooked, clean, responsive WordPress theme with a writing focus that had a footer and a right sidebar. But after I’d searched the internet for that perfect theme for months, I realized that it was impossible to please me. Since I didn’t want to spend money on a basic theme that I’d to work on for hours to customize for my site anyway, I decided to find a basic theme I liked and use it as a basis.

The theme I settled on was Editor by Array. It is clean and writing focused, with some really nice typography. It also uses featured images well, but a post lacking a featured image won’t break the flow. There are some caveats, though: The menu is left-aligned, static, uses a messy toggling system. And there is no right sidebar. Still, it is a great platform to build on.

What you’re looking at now is the end result. The fonts are large, it’s a bloody treat to read this and I managed to get the menu to behave just the way I wanted. The biggest change is that there is no right sidebar, even if that was something I really wanted. It turns out a sidebar clutters everything a lot more than I expected. This means that content like the author excerpt and the most recent A Picture A Day are now gone. But you can find all that on their respective pages, reachable from the main menu as before. I am considering expanding the current footer with some of the content previously found in the side bar, but for now I’ll let the new design settle in for a while. There are bound to be some minor tweaks and changes in the not-so-distant future anyway.

The design, now renamed Editör because of the amount of changes, is tested in the latest versions of Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer and Project Spartan. It looks fairly much the same on all of them, including Firefox on mobile. But if you see anything odd, please let me know by dropping a comment below. Not wanting to spend any more time than necessary on the redesign, much of the customization is done fairly quick and dirty. If you’re a real CSS/HTML/JS nerd and spot something in the code that’s making you cringe, feel free to let me know. Just don’t expect me to get around to fix it anytime soon.

Now you’ll have to excuse me, I’m off to pour myself a glass of ice cold of whisky.

Redecorate dot net

It’s time to wake up and realize the facts as they are laid out for you every time to visit this site: The current design is going stale. It’s nothing wrong with it, but when you’re looking at the same thing all the time1, even the most exciting things will eventually start to feel boring and mundane. The current design, a somewhat modified version of North by Okay Themes, has been with us for almost two years now. With a design rotation of roughly one year, an overhaul is long overdue.

I’ve been searching the internet for a new WordPress theme for the good part of the last four months, and it’s proven very hard to find the right theme. I’m looking at both free and “premium” themes, and I’ve paid for the two previous themes I used. But the price has been increasing steadily since I purchased North, and a premium theme will now typically set me back somewhere in between $38 and $68. I guess I could sit down and create a theme myself, I’ve done that before, but it usually turns in to a massive time sink. With that in mind, $68 is a relatively small amount to pay for something that will last for at least a year and save me weeks of intense fiddling to get everything to look right in every major browser.

The theme I’m looking for has to be responsive, contain a footer and a right-hand sidebar, or, at least make it easy to move a left-hand sidebar to the right of the main content. But perhaps more important than what the theme has to be, is what it must not be.

Responsive, Part II

Over the last couple of days I’ve been looking at responsive WordPress themes. Since “responsive” is just beginning to gain momentum among WordPress theme magicians, the number of available themes is low compared to old-fashioned, non-response themes. I eventually gave up on finding a nice, free theme and realized that I probably had to go premium for the first time since I started to use WordPress to run this site. There are a lot of very talented designers and developers who sell premium themes on the interwebs, but they are somewhat hard to find: Many of them work out of their mum’s basement, as freelance contractors. Or at least it’s like that in my head.

Thankfully, there are sites like ThemeForest. ThemeForest works as an aggregator for all those people trapped in basements around the world and enables them to sell their creations on a secure market place. Not unlike how all other market places work. Many theme artists make good money on ThemeForest as well, having sold for a million USD or more. I’m guessing that the creators of ThemeForest also laugh a little when they go to bed at night.