Happy New

Posted by Steve in the wee hours on Tuesday the 2nd of January, 2007

Since the day it was launched, nascentguruism was forsaken. When I started designing it, I had a limited understanding of design and so faced a massive learning curve. Because of this, most of my efforts went into working out how to translate the concepts and feelings I wanted to convey into a working site, along with understanding how to achieve what I wanted in the tools I was using (Photoshop).

In hindsight, it’s entirely logical that the first version of nascentguruism’s design would turn out to be everything I made it and nothing I wanted it to be: I was learning about design by observing and experimenting, and so would quickly lose focus on the overall design, becoming preoccupied with whatever details I wanted to introduce at that moment in time.

After ten months’ toil, the site launched with a whimper and, because of the shoehorning that had taken place to include all the extra details, I quickly became jaded: the format of the site didn’t appeal to me, and so I was unwilling to write. As time passed, my interest waned.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

Shortly after SxSW in March–around June, if memory serves–I was inspired to play with some ideas for a redesign of nascentguruism.

Rather than pressuring myself to continue working solidly until it was ready to launch–as I had with the initial ten-month design–I decided simply to get all my ideas down on paper into a PSD before taking time to mull over what I’d come up with. After a while, I’d start anew, creating a design from scratch, building upon–or, in some cases, replacing–what I’d done in the last iteration.

This process continued until mid-October, when I finally felt that the design could go no further without transitioning to markup. Throughout, I refused to do any work–design or markup– unless I was compelled to do so.

I think this relaxed approach to the design and implementation has served me twofold: the design and implementation was less forced, and so the final site has a more relaxed, open feel to it, and this design is something I positively want to work with, to the point that I’m practically itching to post new content to it (and have been for the last month). Further, the iterative, throwaway-prototype approach to designing allowed me to incorporate new ideas effectively, without compromising the design as much as I might before.

Typography

One of my primary focuses in this new design was to experiment with typography, using some of the ideas gleaned from reading Robert Bringhurst’s ‘The Elements of Typographic Style’ and working with Rich on Web Typography. I’ve tried to blend more widely used ideas (like working with vertical rhythm using baselines) and more playful ones (like ornamented indentation), and will continue to experiment and integrate ideas put forth in Web Typography.

Some of these experiments are very reliant on using modern CSS techniques, such as generated content and pseudo-elements and, as such, may not display as expected on all browsers (Internet Explorer, I’m looking at you). Further, most of the font-size-related typography has been optimised for WebKit-based browsers on Mac OS X and, as such, there may be sizing issues with other platforms or browsers. Or maybe not. Everything should be usable, at the very least.

Style

As it stands, the CSS is very clearly showing signs of the hap-hazard approach I took to developing it; in the very near future, I plan to rework it–possibly using YUI reset and fonts.

Support

I couldn’t have achieved everything I have in this redesign if it weren’t for the help of a two notable individuals:

These two deserve more gratitude than I can express here–or in beer form–thank-you both.

There are, however, others that have supported me throughout the process, who also deserve thanks:

Fin?

nascentguruism is far from complete–during this redesign, I’ve come up with many, many ideas for future work on the design and implementation. Most importantly, however, I have a renewed excitement for blogging and a few ideas for future posts in mind.

Only time will tell if it lasts, I suppose.

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9 comments

  1. Congratulations, Steve. It’s looking fantastic and the attention to detail is inspiring as always.

    Here’s hoping it actually brings you some inspiration to write more this time around!

     Ben Ward
    40 minutes after the fact
  2. Looking good!

    I, too, have been playing with the typography on my site, using much of the webtypography.net stuff. I haven’t tweaked things to the baseline yet or adjusted anything besides the article but already, I feel much more comfortable with reading stuff on my own site. It’s interesting to see what a finely tuned site can do for readability and for aesthetics.

     Jonathan Snook
    1 hour, 3 minutes after the fact
  3. Excellent! I look forward to reading future posts.
    Glad to see you kept the stylish green-on-white!

     Gareth Rodger
    1 hour, 5 minutes after the fact
  4. Very clean, mate! There’s a little room for improvement, but I think it’s in excellent shape for a launch. And comparing me to a patient monk…. quite flattering, really (thanks man).

     Anton
    4 hours, 33 minutes after the fact
  5. I see lots of white stuff, some green text, some black text….can’t wait to see the full design unveiled on the site. Good stuff Steve.

     Matt Robin
    19 hours, 22 minutes after the fact
  6. About bloody time. :P

     Frances Berriman
    1 day, 9 hours after the fact
  7. Hi, a query about the design. What are the green question-marks before each paragraph for? They don’t show up in IE, only Firefox on my m/c.

     Rick
    2 months, 1 week after the fact
  8. Rick, those question marks are showing up because Windows, by default, doesn’t appear to have any fonts containing a correct U+2767 character, the ‘Rotated floral heart bullet’. This is most certainly a bug, but, given that this is my typographic playground, I’m willing to sacrifice a couple of things like that for a certain group of users in the name of typographic fidelity.

    That said, I am looking into other ways I can make that work without having to resort to images.

     Steve
    2 months, 2 weeks after the fact
  9. Crumbs, I have enough trouble with relatively ordinary characters which appear in early manuscript documents. Some of those are not even in Unicode.

     Rick
    2 months, 3 weeks after the fact