Saturday, May 26, 2012

Blog Theme

Am taking suggestions on my blog design. I like the background picture/theme, but am not entirely satisfied with readability, especially of the sidebar. Am likely to go to something simpler, one of their standard themes. Or not. But feel free to throw some ideas at me; just don't aim for the face or crotch, please.

21 comments:

  1. Yeah I noticed the readability issue in the sidebar, but really it's not that bad. It can be read, it's just a little faint. All that I could really suggest, is maybe changing the link color to something more readable. You'd have to experiment to find one that works. Or else try out different themes using the same background image. Maybe one with a shadow effect in the sidebar to make the links more readable.

    All pretty obvious suggestions, but that's all I've got.

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  2. Thanks Cym. As you can see, some changes have now been made. I was afraid to change the theme because I didn't really want to have to go back and edit the HTML code to get rid of the "background" on images, which was rather tedious last time I did it, trying to find the right place to make the edits, tons of trial and error; but with a white post body, this isn't an issue so I think I'll leave it at that. I kind of like the background image, too. Though I might go with something leafy....

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  3. This one look fine too. But one thing I don't quite understand about your comment, you said:

    "I didn't really want to have to go back and edit the HTML code to get rid of the "background" on images with was rather tedious last time I did it"

    If you've upgraded to the new blogger template designer, which I'm assuming you have or else you wouldn't have this theme, you don't have to do any manual HTML editing, and adding and removing the background picture and changing colors and fonts is as simple as clicking a button. When in the "blogger dashboard", on the far left choose "template", and then "customize" (rather then "edit html") to enter the blogger template designer, and then click "background" to add or remove an image. I'm assuming you have done this, or else how did you get what you now have? The point is that as long as you are using one of the standard blogger themes (provided by blogger, as opposed to a third party), there is no manual editing of HTML necessary for changing the background image...unless you've done something to alter the code on your own, disabling that easy access. In which case it is easy to undo by simply choosing the option in the blogger template designer to "undo customizations". As a precaution though, before changing your template, it's always a good idea to download a copy of it as it is now, just in case you make a mistake, losing something you didn't intend to lose, you can always upload the old version fully intact.

    If you already know all this, sorry for the repeat. But I'm thinking that there is either some kind of misunderstanding, that we are not the seeing the same thing in our dashboards, or that you've manually altered your template code in a way that is making what should be a simple procedure needlessly difficult.

    Whatever you do, this theme looks good, but if you should ever decide to change it again in the future, it shouldn't have to be a difficult procedure, so long as your template is calibrated correctly (the best way I know how to put it). Unless of course you prefer coding your own HTML. I used to do it, but it just gives me a terrible headache now, and major eyestrain. So I prefer using the simple click of a button method instead.

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  4. I like anything with water in it. ;-)

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    1. "I like anything with water in it. ;-)"

      Me too, though even better in person, than in pictures.

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  5. Well, the pictures all showed up with a dorky looking ten pixel white border around them that I couldn't get to go away, though I tried to find something that would allow it in the "easy" ways you mention. Had to go into the code and do it that way. I don't know if the pictures, with the new change, have such a border, but because the background is white, it doesn't matter, so I'm glad I don't have to mess with the HTML again.

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    1. Are you talking about the pictures within the post, or the background image?

      If you're talking about pictures within the post, some themes by default are set having a thicker image border than others, but you can usually change that in the template blogger designer itself, rather than a manual HTML edit. Again if you've made any manual changes to the code, to undo those, and set the blog back to being like new, all you have to do is "undo customizations" in the theme editor, and than reinstall the theme.

      I can tell that you don't have a standard unaltered template code, simply by looking at your name "posted by Brandon" before the time stamp at the bottom of the posts. New unaltered themes "right out of the box" have your posted by name linked to your profile. If you don't know what I mean, drop by my blog, and see mine.

      Anyway, the main point I wanted to get across is that when you manually edit your own template code, it can sometimes disable certain functions from working properly in the template designer, but that there is a way to reset it.

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    2. I just want to clarify that I did notice that not all themes have the option to change the image border in the template designer, and the watermark template, your previous theme, didn't. Of course you already knew that. But there are some themes that do, otherwise you have to do it manually. That shouldn't mess up the template ordinarily, if it's just a matter of changing the width, or setting it to zero, unless you remove something that you shouldn't.

      Sorry to go on and on about it, but I have a lot of familiarity with the subject, and just trying to help. Though sometimes altering the code by hand is not worth the trouble, and the better solution is just to pick out another template that doesn't need any extra editing.

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  6. Interesting, I didn't do anything to alter the "posted by Brandon" in fact I never really noticed it there at all. Must be some themes link it to the profile, some dont. I assume that changing the theme probably deletes or resets any manual HTML changes. Let me know if you notice any other problems anywhere.

    And yes, the watermark template didn't allow me to remove the image border for images within posts, so I edited the HTML. I never saved anything without previewing it and making sure everything was alright, and as I said, it took some trial and error before I found the right thing to change.

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  7. No, I happen to know that all the themes available in the template designer link your "posted by" to your profile. I've actually experimented with it and previewed my blog with all the different themes. It doesn't matter that you didn't alter that specific section, having altered your code in anyway somehow prevented that code from being added. It's a new featured added just a few months ago. I noticed it one day on someone else's blog, and that I didn't have it on mine. I had been tinkering my HTML code as well, and noticed that the only way I could activate that feature was to "remove customizations" in the template designer and re-install the theme, essentially starting over from scratch. You may need to change the theme, save it, and then go back to this one for it to work, but it should work. If you were to create a new blog, you would see that enabled on all new blogs, regardless of which theme you choose, so long as it is a standard blogger theme.

    *** " I assume that changing the theme probably deletes or resets any manual HTML changes. Let me know if you notice any other problems anywhere." ***

    No, you actually have to click "remove customizations" to remove all the changes, and then re-install the template.

    Again not a serious issue, but if you wanted that feature, follow these directions and see if it works.

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  8. Ah, did not know that. So much for assumptions. I don't think I really care enough about that feature to reset it, in case I end up again with a dark/non-white background. If someone wants to see my profile, there's the main link in the sidebar, good enough.

    Thanks for taking the time, Cym.

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  9. Readability/usability and simplicity are the fundamental values (assuming valuable content). Find something that works and stick with it; it's your identity. The most important design element is "Notes from the Outside", what in a newspaper we would call your "flag". I'm not sure the background image has anything to do with it. (I'd like to see something like pieces of paper blowing in the wind...notes from the outside. The rocks and water are just decorative.) I'm not big on changing things around a lot, I don't rearrange furniture once it's placed. It just has to work, like feng shui. All this technology has made us all graphic designers: unfortunately most blogs look alike.

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  10. Well, I don't know squat about feng shui. I just don't want my blog to look the same as others, thus the background changes. Change is alright, if it's for the better. I'm not sure I have acheived that, though.

    But I'm not sure it matters; there's about 5 people who read this regularly, then the spammers and internet searches that include my blog due to pictures I've posted. Unless of course this blog really does have great interest for a large number of lurking, non-commenting Russians...

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    1. *** "There's about 5 people who read this regularly" ***

      You may have more readers than you think. A lot of people read blogs through RSS readers, rather than going to the blog directly. For instance, according to Google Reader, you currently have 7 subscribers. People using different brand "feed readers" won't show up in that count, and so it is most likely a higher number. You can sign up for a service called Feedburner to get a more accurate figure. Not that it matters all that much, just that you probably have more than five regular readers, as not all readers show up in the stats.

      ***a large number of lurking, non-commenting Russians...***

      They "read" my blog too. I'm assuming their mostly spam bots, but then again, you never can be too sure. Of course there are also anonymous proxies, that indicate a person is in a different city, or even different country, than they actually are. So that Russia may not necessarily be Russia, but some guy in Cleveland who is covering his tracks.

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    2. fascinating. What is this Google Reader, how does it apply to blogspot? You seem to know far more about this than me. I know my way around this place, but haven't studied the schematic drawings as you seem to have ;)

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  11. As of today, 31 May, I like this iteration of your blog design. Clean, easy to read, focuses on the content, no distractions. I like the soft cool green feel.

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  12. Heh heh. I think I have about 5 regular readers too. Maybe 10 if you count the Forest Service PR guys who keep checking back to make sure I'm not trash-talking them.

    My spammers are all from the Philippines. They go through some pretty amazing contortions trying to get past the typepad spam filters. Sometimes they'll quote a big section of my own blog text and then use broken google-translated english to say how much they enjoyed the post and by the way, everyone should check out with a convenient hypertext link to click on. I used to hate the spammers, but now I kind of pity them. Most seem to be in 3rd world hellholes and probably spend all their time in basement boiler-room operations or cybercafes clicking on Western websites they can't read. It must be a horrible way to make a living.

    I like the new theme. I have this old 1938 copy of Thoreau's 'Walden' that I bought for $4 at a used bookstore. The cover is simply tan paper with green text. Simple and clean. You've got a Thoreauvian thing going on here and when I saw the new theme it was that old book that immediately popped into mind.

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    1. "Most seem to be in 3rd world hellholes and probably spend all their time in basement boiler-room operations or cybercafes clicking on Western websites they can't read. It must be a horrible way to make a living."

      Eh, no worse than a lot of office work here in the US, which is often as unintelligible and pointless. But yeah, I hear ya. Glad you like the new format, I'm satisfied with it too, and if it relates at all to Thoreau, all the better.

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  13. Hi Brandon ... "BraidedStream.jpg" is a meandering stream, not braided stream. I am a sedimentary geologist and had to point this out. :)

    That is not just semantics. In oil and gas exploration, the difference between these two sedimentary facies has profound implications for reservoir architecture and internal connectivity.

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    1. Hmm, yes, you're right. How embarrassing, haha. Though it took me a minute to find the post this comment should have gone to (two posts older than this one). Fixed it. Thanks for reading and commenting :)

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