Always an honor to get to improve upon a personal favorite!
Some of my earliest childhood memories are of reading the newspaper comics: youthful confusion about the differences between Garfield and Heathcliff, Marmaduke and Howard Huge, the Lockhorns and the Family Circus, wondering who was reading those giant-yet-boring Prince Valiant strips on Sunday, pondering the bizarre evolution of Robotman. I’ve read the comics religiously ever since, missing only a handful of days over the past 20+ years. But there were so many strips I simply ignored, convinced they were stodgy hangers-on from decades long past, or else that they were unfunny legacy soap operas not worth the time to investigate.
Thankfully in 2004 Joshua Fruhlinger started reading the comics so we wouldn’t have to. His curmudgeonly commentary had an opposite effect, though: hundreds of thousands of people suddenly began to appreciate Mary Worth for all of her meddlesome glory, found themselves able to recite the sordid back stories of the girls of Apartment 3G, and learned new ways to determine whether or not you might in fact be a Plugger.
The Comics Curmudgeon is one of the few sites that I visit multiple times a day right in the browser (despite its handy RSS feeds), so it was a great honor to be given the chance to do a facelift of the site. Since I look at it so often, I figured I’d better do a good job. Not to mention that if I broke what was already a cherished site, I’d surely be mauled by his sizable community of rabid comics fans!
Some of the highlights of the redesign:
- An awesome new logo up there in the header depicting Josh as drawn by Ces Marciuliano, writer of Sally Forth and creator of Medium Large
- Brand new, handcrafted WordPress theme, designed to retain some of the lo-fi, Verdana-heavy charm of the old site while cleaning up the layout and typography considerably
- A new jQuery-based @reply system for the comments section, modeled after the ad hoc format that his community evolved and had been manually typing in — his posts often reach 500+ comments, so this helps keep track of who’s talking to whom a bit
- A new Advanced Archives page that lets users build the archive they’d like to see (ex: “Show me this month’s posts about Mary Worth that contain the word “meddle”, in ascending order, five per page”), also allowing for easy bookmarking of their search query
- Cleaner, lighter code and speed optimizations on the server side to help offset the time it takes to pull down the large daily comics
- A flexible “jello” layout that expands and contracts depending on the size of your browser window, to add a bit of whitespace and breathing room without breaking things for folks on smaller screens
- iPhone and “other” mobile versions of the site (which double as low-bandwidth alternatives for those on dialup who’d like a speed boost) with AJAX comment loading
Hopefully it’s all a change for the better (I think it is!), and I look forward to hearing the feedback!
The first of my summer freelance projects is now live: the portfolio site for fabulous packaging designer, Christy Carroll. Love her work! Christy crafted the visual design for the site, and I implemented it in WordPress with a completely hand-tailored jQuery portfolio browser for the homepage. More to come soon…
Freshened up my personal blog and portfolio site for 2009. While similar to the transitional look and content that you’ve seen for the past couple of years, this theme has been hand re-written from scratch and features many advancements over the old style. The entire site is better integrated through WordPress than ever before using features newly available in WP 2.7.1 (gravatars, per-post styles, threaded comments, etc), a handful of customized plugins, subtle jQuery enhancements, and Subversion to tie it all together on the backend. I’ve also moved to a new domain after about ten years of being at asnorwood.com. All of the old links should still point to the right place (or get you pretty close), but let me know if you find something missing.
The bulk of the improvements are behind-the-scenes, but I can at least say that the following changes make my life easier and me happier:
- Uploading new portfolio work is much more straightforward.
No more need for a separate gallery plugin!
- The category and link organization is more sensible! Tags, too!
- Better error-handling — hopefully you won’t end up 404 Not Found, but you at
least have a sporting chance of getting unstuck now!
- The search engine optimization (I hate that term) seems to be working
already, too. Thanks, Google!
- The search form pulls up better, more accurate results!
All of this tech stuff is secondary, of course, and I’m still trying to decide how best to balance the blog entries between my different interests. Maybe I’ll eventually split off into two or more distinct sites to keep things from rambling together. I’d also like to figure out a better way to incorporate the side-channel links (currently I’m using del.icio.us) and scrap-collecting elements (I love Tumblr for gathering quotes and other detritus, but not sure how best to tie that content in with my main site). Being nearly the fifteenth anniversary of my first website, you’d think I’d have this all figured out by now!
What do you think? What would you change?
Another fairly straightforward WordPress theme built from the ground up. This time it’s for Marsha Riti’s secondary blog, MIXED BAG, which collects her project instructions, recipes, and Craigslist finds from around Austin (are you obsessed with midcentury modern furniture and weird old junk, too?).
Hey kids! I’ve relaunched my site, moving it to its new official home at adamnorwood.com (goodbye, asnorwood.com). It’s got a new, hopefully better design, a stronger WordPress backend (the bells and whistles have all been polished), and I’ve got a slew of new content coming down the pike (I know, the last real post on here was from…last July? Uh-oh). I’m launching it into the yawning chasm that is SXSW2009, so maybe everyone will be too distracted to notice any temporary glitches or missing bits. For you faithful who are reading this in a feed reader, I thank you and ask your forgiveness for the horribly jumbled updated feed that probably greeted you this morning!
Things to look forward to:
- More posts on art from someone who’s trying to figure it all out, with more of a focus on the local (Austin, Texas) art scene
- Posts on design and technology, including some lessons learned while building up my WordPress chops
- More signal, less noise
As always, I’d love to hear any criticisms, complaints, questions, comments, or commiserations. Leave me your good words!