Version 11

Version 11 has been retired here. is now running version 11. For a person who was notorious for the frequency of his design changes, version 10 stuck around for a very long time — measured in years, not months.

To everything, there is a season

I’m going through a significant shift in attitude right now. For the first time in so long, I feel stable and complete, and I wanted my site to reflect this change. I’ve also been letting go of many things, and this certainly gave me the motivation to update even though I adored the previous version.

I found lots of inspiration in Jin’s recent refresh, which has an extremely smooth and slick feel to it. The ironic thing is that he wanted it to be clean and polished, and told me he looked to version 10 of for ideas. Here I am getting ideas from his ideas from my ideas, in a wonderful creative synergy, and I think we’re both very happy with our mutual results.


I’ve always been taken with the simplicity of single-column layouts. The problem with single-column layouts is that they’re restricted to be relatively narrow, because a large column causes body text to stretch too wide to be conducive to quick reading (the reason newspaper columns are so narrow). This is why I resisted the latest trend of towards wide designs for so long.

In this version, I have elements that break out of the main body column, which allows me to fill the entire column with content. This, in turn, implies a strong border and a single column, which is exactly what I want.

This code is based on a stripped-down version of my Wu Wei source, but it retains elements of version 10 to stay consistent with my personal brand; mainly the graph-paper background (because I feel like my life is always in a drafting phase), the comment bubble, the interspersed tweets that form the lifestream, and the Avenir typeface. I have a feeling that I’ll make an update to this theme more in line with Jin’s slick interface as my mentality evolves.

My favourite little detail is the curved speech bubble coming out of the little bird’s mouth, which took me a very long time before I was happy with it.

The big picture

My only dissatisfaction with version 10 was the fact that images were downsized to fit in the 480-pixel column, so they had little impact, and details in them were lost. As a visual person, I want to be enveloped by a picture, and this is the main reason for the width of this layout.

Also possible is embedding larger videos, such as this:

This design based on the 960 grid, and is my widest layout by far. Everything lines up along the eight main columns. Even the graph paper background aligns with the columns. Posts are wrapped in a full-width border, and align by date. Tweets are aligned to the main body text because they’re quick updates, and fall nicely under each date.


Headings are rendered in Avenir using Cufón. This is an update from the PHP text-to-image rendering engine I was using. The advantage is that I get to use different weights, anti-aliasing is much smoother, and large fonts are handled appropriately. Also, the text is selectable (unlike the previous PHP images). The only reason I’m not using TypeKit is that it doesn’t support Avenir.

Body text remains Arial, with touches of Georgia for quotes and comments. Titles are no longer converted to uppercase as in version 10, because I felt it was too aggressive and didn’t reflect my new relaxed attitude. I also found that when keeping titles in all-caps, a level of emphasis was lost when I purposely used lower, mixed, or upper case in my entry names.

Goodbye, old friend

Many people have asked me to make version 10 public the way Derek Punsalan did for the Grid Focus theme, and I always knew it’d be something to consider. But I realized that there are too many tweaks and plug-ins needed to get it functioning properly. It’s a highly customized theme and looks terrible if even one of these tweaks was missing, so I’ve decided to retire version 10 to a sub-domain instead.


  1. I for one am delighted with bigger.

    Pictures. Bigger Pictures. ::ahem::

    • A non-Freudian slip, I’m sure.

  2. Hey Jeff. I’m flattered that my redesign gave you some ideas about yours. As you mentioned, your site is one of those I’ve always liked. I guess it’s because we have the same taste and hobbies. I like how you have a narrower measure for your text. I’m still not 100% happy with mine. I feel mine is a bit wide. (although I love it for big pics). I’m still in the process of reformatting my old posts with big photos.

    great job!

    • I was wondering how you felt about the width of your main text column. I notice you sometimes divide it in half and I love that effect, but the extra styling you use in the paragraph was too much overhead for me as a frequent writer.

      I notice the trend of a lot of big name web designers is their tendency to write less often but have fantastic articles, each styled a little (or a lot) differently. It totally works for you.

      I’m not sure if I’m 100% happy with this yet either; I just spent the last day tinkering around with certain elements most people wouldn’t even notice, but for now nothing stands out as being too off. I’m tempted to format my old posts too (mainly the thumbnail galleries), but it’d take way too much time, with over 1500 entries to sort through. I did with my last version, and it took a few weeks to go through everything.

  3. I’m liking it. It takes far more advantage of a bigger screen and a smaller resolution than the previous design, which is needless to say a good thing.

    Makes me want to settle down and start redesigning my own outdated layout.

    • I think I’d be sad to see a redesign of your page. I’ve only known you since you’ve had your current layout, so it’d seem like a huge change. Maybe because we interact through our websites, which means they’re a part of how we’re represented to each other.

      • Haha, I could say the same for your redesign, but change isn’t always bad. Rest assured if I do get around with it, it’ll still the simple complexity and practicality that I’m known for. Plus I do need to get rid of the bloat on my layout now that I seem to be blogging less these days.

  4. hey, jeff.. I have to say… your blog is awesome.. never see anything that smooth.. love this. can i get one of this? good job!

Leave a Reply