Version 12

Version 12 has been retired here. is now run­ning ver­sion 12, in what I sus­pect will be the final design iter­a­tion for this site1.

The gem cannot be polished without friction

I’ve been itch­ing for a new look for a while now, around the time I was in England, some­thing that was reflec­tive of the peace I’ve made with myself and the world.

Life no longer feels like a draft where I’m try­ing to fig­ure things out, so I’ve aban­doned the beloved graph paper back­ground which debuted in ver­sion 9. Most ele­ments and text have been toned down a bit2 to give things a slick, clean, and pol­ished look, very much inspired by Jin Yang’s blog. I’m still in love with the large sin­gle-col­umn lay­out that lets me post big pic­tures and videos, and most of the design is still based around that.

I’ve nev­er been a fan of ver­ti­cal rules — they always seem to claus­tro­pho­bi­cal­ly trap con­tent more than any­thing else — but I found they brought much-need­ed def­i­n­i­tion to the wide col­umn, now that the graph paper is no longer there. Other ele­ments are strong enough on their own to define the under­ly­ing grid. I’ve also added some grav­i­ty-defy­ing page cor­ners to bring a bit of depth to the lay­out.

Even though Version 12 has been based sig­nif­i­cant­ly on my Version 11 code and design, I decid­ed to give it a major revi­sion num­ber because it’s a new theme at heart. They may look sim­i­lar, but they feel very dif­fer­ent.


All head­ings and nav­i­ga­tion ele­ments are still in Avenir Next, which has long been part of my visu­al iden­ti­ty. I’m very dis­ap­point­ed with @font-face sup­port as it cur­rent­ly stands3, as well as TypeKit offer­ings (which appears to solve prob­lems from font foundry licens­ing issues, instead of actu­al web imple­men­ta­tion) so I’ve stuck with Helvetica/Arial for body type. Aside from the com­ment bub­ble, all traces of Georgia have been elim­i­nat­ed. Blockquotes (my favourite aspect of the new design) are in a new type­face: Avenir Next Condensed. Check this shit out:

Large and in charge. Oooh, baby.

I always waver between hav­ing the equiv­o­cal­i­ty title in all caps (which I find looks rather aggres­sive and arro­gant) or all low­er­case (which has those frus­trat­ing hang­ing descen­ders from the “q” and “y” char­ac­ters that trap dead space in the bound­ing box). For this ver­sion, I’ve opt­ed to go with the for­mer for the sake of align­ment.

A matter of time

Version 11 (which now lives on it’s own sub­do­main) last­ed for about a year; a decent amount of time for a per­son who has a his­to­ry of redefin­ing him­self every six months. I was extreme­ly pleased with it, but it does­n’t feel rel­e­vant any­more. There were a few offers from peo­ple to pur­chase the theme since I have a pol­i­cy to nev­er release them pub­licly, but I nev­er relent­ed. I put so much time and ener­gy into these designs that they’ve become part of my iden­ti­ty; it’d be far too unset­tling to see some­one else’s con­tent in them.

  1. For a very long time at least []
  2. I’ve real­ized that you don’t need reti­na-burn­ing con­trast to give some­thing strong def­i­n­i­tion. []
  3. Mainly the way WebKit-based browsers deal with the flash of unstyled text []


  1. Nice. Found your blog a cou­ple of weeks ago, and like the way you do things.

  2. I like it, but the graph paper will always have a spe­cial place in my heart. I’d prob­a­bly get a graph paper tat­too if it would­n’t look ter­ri­ble almost imme­di­ate­ly and be SOOOOO hip­stery.

    • The prob­lem with a graph paper tat­too is that just the slight­est bit of dis­tor­tion and it’ll look like crap, cause it’s the con­sis­ten­cy of the grid that makes it. I can’t think of a good, flat stretch of skin that would­n’t dis­tort.

      And yes, also the fact that you’d be mis­tak­en for a hip­ster, which I’m think­ing is now our gen­er­a­tion’s ver­sion of the hip­pie.

  3. Nice work Jeff! Love the giant space you leave for images and videos.

    • Thanks, Jason, I’m still wait­ing for updates from your blog on your lat­est trip!

  4. This post reminds me that I had a blog once. :)

    I love the new look. I can see why some may miss the grid paper pat­tern, I do too. But I also under­stand why you got rid of it. As I said before, you and I have eeri­ly sim­i­lar tastes.

    I’ve been want­i­ng to get back to blog­ging, but work has been insane­ly busy. When I do blog again I may tweak my design some. I’m actu­al­ly think­ing about going with a serif type for arti­cle titles. But unfor­tu­nate­ly no font host­ing ser­vices have Modern No216 right now, my most favorite serif.

    • I’m always tempt­ed to cre­ate a theme that will allow me to style indi­vid­ual entries the way you and Jason Santa Maria do, but I know I would­n’t have time to take advan­tage of that flex­i­bil­i­ty cause I post so fre­quent­ly.

      Don’t wor­ry about being a rare blog­ger. I think that hav­ing occa­sion­al entries gives so much more weight to your words. Mine get dilut­ed sim­ply from the fact that I rant so much, and it all becomes this mean­ing­less string of thoughts.

      It’s hard for me to imag­ine your site with a serif font! Are you stay­ing away from Cufon to serve up Modern No216 out of respect for the foundry license?

      • I used to use WP’s cus­tom fields for styling indi­vid­ual entries as I blogged here:

        but I find “Art Direction” plug-in does basi­cal­ly the same thing and a lot eas­i­er. You should look into that. You don’t have to have a com­plex theme.

        re: font ques­tion, I’m not doing it for legal rea­sons.

      • I did­n’t mean it would take too much time to make a theme that would sup­port the unique stylings, I meant it would take too much time to actu­al­ly style indi­vid­ual entries because I write so much. It takes me long enough just get­ting the tiny lit­tle details right for one theme!

        I’d be hap­py to pay for a font to be used on the web, but I think I’d be wait­ing for­ev­er for the foundries to work out their licens­ing poli­cies.

  5. hey man, you are a source of lat­er­al and sim­ple inspi­ra­tion, no mat­ter if its the look, feel or read of our page. thanks for this mas­ter piece.
    take care.

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