Saturday, August 11, 2007

Getting over the blues

Despite my profound ignorance of HTML, I've been fiddling with the template of Reflecting Light.

It is with no small hesitation that I have changed the look of a world-renowned, historic institution. This design evolution (or, if you prefer, somewhat more intelligent design) was prompted by the First Law of Blogdom: Do not be boring.

The previous livery seemed to me over-saturated with blue, and characterized by a shortage of contrast. Well, I am now emerging from my Blue Period. In this redesign I tried quite a few colors and combinations, some very quiet, others an Elton John's nightmare. This is my temporary final vision, and wants living with for a while to determine whether further tweaking is called for.

Meanwhile, feel free to comment. This is only a survey and will take only a few minutes of your time. No salesman will call.

If you dote on quantification, you can rate it on a scale of 1 ("You've taken a reprehensible blog and made it worse") to 10 ("Can't take my eyes off it"). Have at it, vox populi.
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10 comments:

YIH said...

I was wondering about the red {h2}s. I see you also widend the blog main and centerd the sidebar.
Overall not a bad first effort.
Next you should try to add Haloscan. A solid 7 out of 10...2

YIH said...

I was wondering where you hail from. According to the 'ol clock on the blog you're somewhere on the West coast.

Rick Darby said...

YIH,

Why is Haloscan any better than Blogger's comments feature?

I actually live on the east coast, although my preferred area of the country is the southwest (at least, it was before the Mexican Invasion got serious). Frankly, I am cagey about my actual whereabouts because some of what I write is provocative, and it's under my real name. Setting the clock earlier is disinformation.

I don't think I'm being paranoid, but feelings run high about immigration and Islam, and I'd rather be overcautious than sorry.

Hermes said...

Rick,

Why don't you change your template to allow the text to stretch horizontally to fit the width of the window? I find that much more comfortable to read than the Blogger default of one narrow column in the middle of the page.

Rick Darby said...

Hermes,

Yes, I agree with you. I'm only gradually getting used to the idea of working with the template — I was always worried about messing it up beyond repair through ignorance, but the combination of copying the existing template and Blogger's preview option are making me a little bolder.

Can you tell me what heading I should look under in the template for the width? Are there separate categories for the text bar and the sidebar?

Anyway, thanks so much for your suggestion.

Hermes said...

Rick,

The easiest thing to do is to choose a template that is pre-configured that way. However, if you've already customized your template a lot, it's not that hard to change. Bizarrely, there's nothing about this in the Blogger help groups, so I'll give my best shot at describing it.

1. Go to Template->Edit HTML.
2. First you need to get rid of the hard-pixel width constraints on the various sections. Find the #header-wrapper section. It should have line that reads "width:660px;". Delete or comment out this line.
3. Find the #header .description section, and delete or comment out its max-width attribute.
4. Do the same thing for the width attribute of the #outer-wrapper section.
5. Now you can set the relative width of your two columsn. Find the #main-wrapper section, which has a width attribute set to a certain number of pixels. This specifies the width of the page that will be taken up by your post column. You can set it to a percentage of the width of the window by changing it to look like this:

width: 65%;

or whatever percentage of the window width you want your post column to take up.

6. Find the #sidebar-wrapper section and change its width attribute to a percentage also, whatever you want the sidebar to take up. This percentage plus the percentage of the #main-wrapper must add up to less than 100.

That should get you there, unless other elements on your blog are interfering. If it looks really funky, you can always revert back to your saved template while you decide whether it's worth working on further.

Rick Darby said...

Hermes,

Thank you. You seem to know your HTML — for some of us older chaps it's tough to understand, although I'm pleased that I have been able to make some design changes on my own, even if it was mainly by trial-and-error.

I realize that there are plenty of books explaining web design, and I've looked at some of the do-it-yourself web design sites. But I suspect that, as with so many other skills, you learn mainly by doing. Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of time to put into becoming proficient, but I'm making slow progress.

I appreciate your taking the time to provide directions for re-sizing. I'll put them to use at the first opportunity.

Hermes said...

Rick,

You're welcome. Actually, I've just noticed something on your blog that maybe you could show me how to do. How did you create that "Earlier" section in your sidebar that shows your last 10 posts?

Rick Darby said...

I just copied out the formula and pasted it in the comments box but when I tried to publish it, a message said, "Your HTML cannot be accepted: PHP, ASP, and other server-side scripting is not allowed."

I'd be glad to e-mail it to you and correspond more about Blogger templates. Is there an e-mail address you wouldn't mind making public where I could contact you?

Hermes said...

Yes, you can reach me at trismegistus4@yahoo.com.