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26 April 2009 @ 08:25 am
Kittysneezes Advice!  
I've made a few layout tweaks to Kittysneezes -- let me know what you think? I'm a little worried it's getting a little cluttered -- but I've got a lot of stuff in there that I WANT, so perhaps placement is the issue.

So you don't have to guess what has changed:

* I tweaked the header bar logo slightly; I made the background transparent -- but in so doing so, I basically re-built it from scratch, since everything was getting kinda pixellated when I was doing it with the existing header bar images. As such, it looks a little different now; I couldn't find the kerning adjust in Photoshop, so now the "ALL THINGS TO ALL PEOPLE" is stretched to exactly fit the "KITTYSNEEZES.COM" part, rather than just justified/kerned correctly. I like the Kerning look a lot better, but the transparency looks way better with the gradient/grey background of the actual header.

* I changed the "Most Popular" to be Most Popular In The Past Few Months, rather than Most Popular Ever, as MPE is basically stagnant, where MPITPFM actually gets a bit of turnover, so folks can see more/different articles there. So, bad news for mister_f and tundrababe, your two articles, which are like, the #2 and #1 articles EVER on Kittysneezes, in that you no longer have the Place O' Extreme Honor on the "Most Popular List" on the site, but hey...8) You're still tops in my books.

* I FINALLY put on an obvious link to the KS RSS Feed. It only does the 3 front page articles, which is kinda lame, but oh well. This is one of those where I think I know I SHOULD have done that a long time ago, but, um, I use Safari, which always takes care of that automagically for me, by putting a little "RSS" button in the URL bar when a feed is available, so I never actually LOOK on sites if it's available a'cause I usually know at a glance. But, yeah -- now the rest of the world can see that there's an RSS feed too.

* This one isn't a visible change, BUT I am making an executive decision! Owl-Stretching Time posts are now going to be shown on the front page as well. There haven't been any for a while, but thinking about it, given that I think of KS as a 'zine, those are sort of like little sidebar type articles... usually since they're really well-written (by Lee!), I don't feel weird about having them on the main page rather than as a sub-site. At first, I think I was a little bit "OH NOES THIS IS NOT A BLOG!!!" w/r/t that, but the thing is, while OST is kinda a blog, it's more of what a blog WAS, i.e. a Log of cool Web Content, rather than what it is NOW, i.e. an E/N type site like this here LJ is. So, yeah. (And, of course, any KS contributor can contribute to OST, just like any OST contributor can contribute to KS; I think joshkassel is the only non-original OST contributor to do an OST article -- if the rest of you are interested, just go take a look at the posts (or the blog) to see what the style/content is.)

* A Random Article sidebar. Again, it helps to open things up to older articles folks might not have seen. It's different than the Greatest Hits one which has been there for a while, in that the Greatest Hits ones are a combination of my favorite articles and some of the ones that are All-Time Popular Ones (since, um, let's be honest; while I put in a lot of effort on KS stuff, some of 'em are total filler). The thing with the random article generator is that it only picks from a particular section -- so it'll be three reviews, three interviews, three fiction pieces etc.; I'm not sure how to fix that. But it's not so bad, really?

* The large banner ad on the right side. It's the only KS Project Wonderful ad with a minimum bid, because, well, I figured while it might be a good way to bring in bwhahahhahah ad bahhahaha revenue, it's also a good way to highlight the So You Want To Contribute page. (So far, though, while I believe it's gotten quite a few VIEWS -- one of the OTHER reasons to move from the "Most Popular Of All Time" thing -- no actual bites.) I kinda like the idea of it, though. Hopefully, folks will see it or something.

SO ANYWAY: What do y'all think of these changes? Advice? Things you'd like to see (I am getting more handy with the Joomla! Extensions, so feel free to request ponies, and I can at least try my best with my limited skillset to put them in practice)? Re-arrangement of stuff? Any stupid ideas I should change back?

I'm NOT married to pretty much any of these changes -- some I like more than others, sure, but if it's one where I'm the only one who likes something, that tells me that I'm wrong -- so be honest. I want to make the site better, not stroke my ego. And if you want to ask me WHY I do something I'm doing currently, go ahead; perhaps if I can't defend it, that's a good candidate for an improvement.

Overall, I'd really like to change the design of the site -- I've tweaked it, sure, but it IS basically one of the canned Joomla! templates it ships with. That one, though, I KNOW I'll need help with. It's only by the grace of god I've been able to do any of the actual CSS tweaks I made in the first place. I'm, um, I'm not so good with the CSS. Ben's the one who figured out how to put the DFW circle in the corner. That was totally beyond my ken.

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Rev. Syung Myung Merevme on April 27th, 2009 12:47 am (UTC)
I shall send it to you! Yay! One thing I've also thought of doing, is setting up a thing where the "All Things To All People" slogan is put on a rotator and changes. (I really like rotating content; it's one of the reasons I don't have a blog roll but a blog rotator, f'rinstance.) If I did that, I'd rather it be one of those things where I can put in the list of slogans easily, and then when it chooses 'em, automatically puts it in the image, so that way it's not selectable, since it seems that'd look kinda crappy/cheap. But then, I'm not married to that idea, nor do I even have any other slogans for right now. So, yes!

I'll also send you the Joomla specs in that email -- just in case, although I don't think it'd particularly matter, and I think a lot of that stuff is readily available anyway!

While I love "In The News", I DO hate that it breaks the layout, but I'm not sure how to do it to not. Other than moving 'em behind a cut once they move from that #1 position. But I'm not sure if THAT's the answer either. (AS AN ASIDE: When I'm at work, it seems that half the time, IE doesn't want to load the front page well; I'm wondering if that's because I've busted something in the design, or if it's just that IE is a piece of shit. I figure either is equally likely; the latter because I KNOW that, but the former since I suck at that kinda stuff. And, yeah, I pretty much gotsta use IE at work.)
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Rev. Syung Myung Merevme on April 27th, 2009 04:20 am (UTC)
Ah -- OK; do you mean like the various components (i.e. the modules, stuff like the "most popular" thingy) or more like the various CSS templates and HTML junk? Either way, I can hook you up, or it's all available in the backend, too. Just let me know the kinda stuff you're thinkin', and I can hook you up!
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Rev. Syung Myung Merevme on April 27th, 2009 01:38 pm (UTC)
Awesome -- I saw your two demos -- really dig 'em! I'm gonna send more info in an email, and I'll include that stuff too! Yay!
(Anonymous) on April 26th, 2009 07:15 pm (UTC)
This is wayyyy too much granular detail for me...but let me share what I'm doing with 3rdActs.com, Matt. You're running a magazine, which suggests you're determined to load it up with features on the full range of your interests. Fine. The problem: you end up with too much, and you're loath to delete anything. In my case, I'm trying to attract an audience that wants to talk about, work on, aging. I found myself all over the magazine road, too. Lately, I'm editing more, focusing more, trying to stay on-theme: Old People Doing New Stuff. I'm being more and more rigorous about this. It's risky, but for me the bigger risk is not being different, more focused, and unique. Rather than just being a link-farm and referral site, I want to produce original content that outhers will start pointing to. This may not be your focus. You may not want or need focus. OK. Just tellin' you mine. Focusing has a dramatic effect on your publication's efffectiveness. That's what I think, anyway. I think, by the way, you're doing a dandy job...your site has more intellectual energy by far than most personal-public sites. Dave Newton (too lazy to set up yet another membership in a blog platform.)
Rev. Syung Myung Merevme on April 27th, 2009 01:05 am (UTC)
Hi, Dave!

I see what you mean -- content-wise, though, I'm pretty happy with it how it is; I kinda think of it as a general-interest pop-culture type magazine (maybe a much lower-brow New Yorker type of thing -- not that I'm consciously modeling them or anything (honestly, I've never been much of a fan, heh), but in that you can see all sorts of different stuff in there, but there does seem to be an overarching... feel, rather than theme/topic?). For me, the feel of the content is the most important, which is one of the things I like having with new people writing. I think (and I could be wrong, heh) that there's a palpable Kittysneezes feel to the content (again, if I want to be all high-falutin', I kinda think of KS as a lower-brow, more wide-ranging Believer, of which I AM a huge fan, and kinda where I stole the "Only Positive Review" thing). But that could just be me with delusions of grandeur, of course...8)

For me, right now, I'm mostly just focusing on the design. I've got a LITTLE bit of design skills -- mostly in how I want stuff to look, not in how to execute said looks -- but I'm thinking someone more talented than me would be better at overhauling it. (I really like darkrow's stuff -- this is his current layout, and I really liked the one he did based on Another Green World's album art. (right now I'm not finding it, but here's Want A Breath Mint, his sort of micro-blogging site which has another real cool design.) I wouldn't want to cop EITHER design -- just a'cause I like having something different, AND while both designs are awesome, I don't think they fit KS, but they're both real good.
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Rev. Syung Myung Merevme on April 27th, 2009 04:25 am (UTC)
Of the two -- I probably DO like the current SP layout best, but I thought that the AGW one you did matched the look/feel of the actual record very well, particularly considering it's a different medium (a website/blog rather than a record sleeve).

I'm typically not a fan of the Horizontal Layout (one of the things I _hated_ about Serializer; it was SO clunky and awful) -- though I think WABM's about the best HL I've seen. I DO like that it's the older stuff and you've got the smaller frames that have vertical scrolling; it works well, particularly since, given the nature of the site, the individual posts are typically smaller -- so you don't have to scroll all over the damn moon to see an article...8) (Did I mention that I'm not often a fan of the "Infinite Canvas" or the old Serializer layout?)
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Rev. Syung Myung Merevme on April 27th, 2009 01:37 pm (UTC)
None is always the best -- but at least you've got it where to read any individual bit of content, there's only ONE scrolling axis. It's so annoying when there's multiple.

I am a fan of Scott McCloud, but "infinite canvas" is one we're going to have to agree to disagree on. Except that he's got no idea who I am, so he wouldn't even know he'd have to agree to disagree or nothin'. It's neat in theory, I guess, but a pain in the ass in practice.
(Anonymous) on April 26th, 2009 07:17 pm (UTC)
Oh, by the way...
I've been reading through some posts, and I can't find a thing about "Possums"....What's all the possum stuff in the header?
Rev. Syung Myung Merevme on April 27th, 2009 01:06 am (UTC)
Re: Oh, by the way...
It's the motto for the Enfield Tennis Academy in David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest; the DFW translation of the latin is "They may be able to kill you, but the legalities of eating you are slightly dicier". That's one of my ALL TIME favorite novels; definitely recommend it if you haven't read it. David Foster Wallace's use of language is amazing.
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Rev. Syung Myung Merevme on April 27th, 2009 01:06 am (UTC)
Thanks! I was mostly worried that it was getting cluttered. I like a clean look, but I also like lots of stuff! (You should see my room.)
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Rev. Syung Myung Merevme on April 27th, 2009 01:10 am (UTC)
Stuff IS awesome, though!
Toddler Hiwaytoddler_hiway on April 27th, 2009 06:44 am (UTC)
Yeah -- said this on fb, but it doesn't strike me as at all cluttered.

(if it's bugging you, though, one thing that might make it look more clean is minimizing the number of visual columns[1] on the page -- basically, make it so that the lists of menu items visually align with the start of their headers, rather than being indented. I learned this from the professor that taught us how to lay out a c.v.!)

[1]: I'm not sure what the actual design language is for this... sorry if I'm unclear.
Rev. Syung Myung Merevme on April 27th, 2009 01:34 pm (UTC)
Ah, good -- honestly, it was one that wasn't really bothering me - like, I wasn't SURE if it was cluttered, but then, I've kinda got a history of shoving as much stuff in a space as I can fit, and being sort of oblivious. Like, usually by the time I notice, is too late, heh. So, yes -- thanks!

I DO like the idea w/ the lists. I totally know what you mean by "visual columns", even if I don't know the real term for it either. But yes!