All in the <head> – Ponderings and code by Drew McLellan –

Armadillo v3

As much as I attempt to avoid navel-gazing meta-posts, humour me briefly as I announce that for the first time in more than three-and-a-half years I’ve updated the design of my site. If you’re reading via a feed (and if you’re not, c’mon!) come take a look. As I said back in August 2004 when I last redesigned I’m very much a developer rather than a designer and so it’s not going to win any awards, but I do like to try and keep the place looking nice.

Points of note

One of my objectives apart form the visual refresh was to make good use of microformats from the ground up, so you’ll find the posts formatted with hAtom, as well as hCards and XFN all over the place. There’s more to do, but it’s a good start.

A lot of what I write is fairly text-based technical stuff, so I wanted to include more images to try and makes the page more visually interesting. I enjoy photography and use Flickr a lot, so I’ve simply used a standard Flickr JavaScript badge to drag in a random selection of images from my account. I’m also pulling in gravatars into the comments to break up the textual feel. I’ve done a similar thing with a stream of links from We’ll see how it goes with the JavaScript badges — if performance is crap I’ll rewrite them with PHP.

As the content here is so text-heavy, I’ve significantly increased the size of the body text as part of the redesign to make it easier to read.

This design has been sat waiting to be implemented for about two years, and so is old before it’s new. In an effort to just ship I’m still running on Textpattern — it was the path of least resistance, and leaves me in no worse position than I was before. There’s still work to do. Some of the pages are still on the old templates. I’ve removed the search as the experience was so shockingly poor you’re better to just use Google. I’ll bring that back once I figure out a method that adds value over what you can get from searching with Google.

This is the first set of templates I’ve developed using Firefox 3 as my reference implementation. The good news is that everything that works in FF3 just works in Safari 3.1. IE7 is ok. Firefox 2 is ok, with a few very minor width issues. If you’re using FF2, you’ll be using FF3 soon enough anyway. I’ve also moved the site off Joyent a.k.a. TextDrive, as the performance was unacceptable. Hopefully things should be a bit snappier now.

As always, feedback is very much appreciated.

In other news

It’s six months since I left Yahoo to join, and business is brisk. We’re always on the look out for interesting projects though, so if you’ve got a custom CMS project, need an ecommerce solution developing, or perhaps are looking for a development partner for your new web app, that’s the sort of stuff we do. Some of our current projects include the web-based ticketing systems for a festival, front-end development for an online t-shirt store, and some quirky content management that involves putting dogs on a carousel. We’re also running another of our popular beginners CSS training courses in April, which is booking up now.

If you’re local to us in the South East of England, particularly the Thames Valley area, you might be interested in the Refresh Thames Valley group we’re hoping to get off the ground. Consider it an opportunity to get to know and share knowledge with other people who have an active interesting in web and new media technologies in the local area. If that’s you, we’d love to see you over on the Google Group.