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Redesigned and more

edgy_theme.jpg

In a few weeks it will be exactly a year since I redesigned this site. It really has become an annual event. This time I’ve redesigned it but also rebranded and added new features.

Rebranded

I really liked the domain bradt.ca. I mean come on, firstname.lastname.com is pretty sweet. That is unless your last name is hard to say, spell, and remember. Mine is. This was my motivation for rebranding.

I bought the domain name capeislander.com with the intention of identifying with my roots and creating a theme based on Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, where I grew up. Later I realized that bradt.ca was available and a much better choice. In fact, I’m already the fifth site if you search “bradt” on Google!

Redesign

For this design I had the same design goals as I did a year ago. This time however, I wanted to make sure the design looked good in Safari.

The previous design had significant styling on form controls. Since Safari prohibits styling form controls it made the entire design look very bad. I’ve taken special care with the form styling this time around and even added some Javascript to detect Safari and replace the standard live search text box with the special search box that only Safari supports.

I have tested the new design in the following browsers:

  • Internet Explorer 6 & 7
  • Firefox 2
  • Opera
  • Safari

New Features

I really wanted to bring in the content that I contribute to external services like Last.fm, Flickr, and Magnolia and display them on the home page. To accomplish this I used the following plugins:

Because each of these plugins accesses third party content, it can be slow to load a page which employs a plugin. It can be even slower if the page employs several of the plugins. And even slower again if one of the services is experiencing a high volume of requests. To tackle this, I wrapped each plugin in a “module” that could be loaded after the page has loaded via Ajax.

I also added the following plugins to improve user experience:

Most of these plugins worked exactly how I wanted out-of-the-box, but I did have to tweak a couple. I added a nice feature to the Live Comment Preview plugin which gets the user’s Gravatar if one exists for their e-mail address. The StatusPress plugin also required some tweaking so it would only show the latest status. I’m not at all happy how StatusPress works actually and I’m thinking of writing a proper Facebook/Twitter status plugin in the future.

Try out the comment preview feature (it’s fun, especially if you have a Gravatar) and let me know what you think of the changes.

  • http://fairyfish.net/ Denis

    thanks for adding WP2.3 Related Posts, nice theme, when do you release it?

  • http://www.reinspire.net Jonathan E

    Hey Brad, really nice job here! My favourite part is actually your new logo which looks especially good in your footer. Stylish man, stylish.

  • http://seanmcg.com Sean McGrath

    Great redesign Brad! Love the Flickr integration, gravatar support and the notify by email option. The footer is also badass. Oh, and thanks for looking out for us Safari users ;)

  • http://www.silverspider.com Alex

    Hi Brad, nice redesign! I’m glad that you’ve found the Ma.gnolia Plugin useful and really like the way you’ve displayed the links on your home page. Any feedback or ideas for was to improve the plugin would be appreciated!

  • http://brad.touesnard.com Brad Touesnard

    Thanks to everyone for the encouraging words. I’ve received lots feedback, both positive and negative, which is great!

    @Denis: I doubt I’ll have time to generalize this theme for release. I’ve got a lot coming down the pipe these days. We’ll see.

  • http://www.linxprint.com Omar

    Hey Dude,
    Your blog’s design keeps getting better. Keep it up.

    And oh, I like this domain name, much shorter and easier to remember :P

    Talk to you soon :)
    – Omar

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