A quick note about my new blog design:

For the past two years, this blog has been custom-styled using the German Newspaper theme for WordPress. It was elegant and professional, but it took more work to maintain on the back end.

Because I didn’t feel like fiddling with PHP script every time I wanted to add a feature, I haven’t added many features.

But the beauty of CSS and XML is that it removes the design from the content, and so all the content is still here. It just looks different. (Side thought for the geek-wads: Do you remember when CSS and XML were new and how it was so exciting? I still remember taking an XML class >10 years ago when I worked at FDIC and the instructor saying, “This will change everything!”)

The biggest change is that you can now subscribe via e-mail to the blog. Your address will be maintained by Google’s FeedBurner service, which will automatically generate an e-mail to you every time I put up a new post.

And of course, there’s always RSS, which I’m now handling through FeedBurner as well.

GUI Web design 101

Some rules to live by, when designing a blog:

  • Simplicity.
  • Not too many links and sub-directories. Nothing should be more than three clicks from the home page.
  • Put as much content as possible above the scroll, in the “splash.” The splash is the equivalent of front page, above the fold. You want those first 600 pixels to really pop. Scrolling sucks.
  • Absolutely no scrolling left to right. (My blog used to violate this in older browsers. Doh!)
  • Try not to waste above-the-fold space. I told a friend once, who was redesigning her blog, “Cut about 10 to 20 pixels from the top of your portrait. Nobody cares about those trees.”
  • Use a sans-serif font. (This blog violates that. Sorry.)
  • Do not use all caps, not even for a links page.
  • Use clear colors. No yellow on red, etc.
  • Preserve white space.
  • Use alt tags for images. If you really want to be kind to blind Web users, all of your photos will have alt-tag descriptions. When I did Web design for FDIC, I had to navigate my own pages using a blindfold and a Web reader, which is audio-only. It really changes your perspective. If this matters to you, see this Web design checklist for Section 508 disabilities compliance.

Dictionary of terms:

  • RSS – Really Simple Syndication
  • CSS – Cascading Style Sheets
  • XML –  Extensible Markup Language
  • PHP –  A scripting language (computer code)
  • WordPress – Software that generates this blog
  • GUI – Graphical User Interface

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