Posts tagged with "design"

Version 13

The design of the site was updat­ed a few weeks ago, bring­ing the lat­est incar­na­tion of to ver­sion 13. I thought ver­sion 12 was going to be the final design, but I’ve real­ized that things inevitably change in my life, and the site is always ends up being a reflec­tion of those changes. At least it last­ed over a year, which is more than I can say for any of my pre­vi­ous designs.

Clean and clear and under control

After going through a peri­od where I felt shat­tered and began to ques­tion every­thing that was impor­tant to me, I knew I had to rede­fine myself. It made me want to strip every­thing down, and go back to my ultra-min­i­mal­ist roots, while bor­row­ing a few much-loved ele­ments from pre­vi­ous designs such as fine dot­ted lines. All the code has been built from the ground up instead of being based on a pre­vi­ous theme.

Now there’s only one col­umn, with every­thing cen­tered to keep it all nice and sim­ple. This lets me post very large pic­tures, which I’ve real­ly been enjoy­ing late­ly, and some­thing the pre­vi­ous theme had restrict­ed me from doing. The pic­tures scale nice­ly though, so peo­ple with low-res­o­lu­tion mon­i­tors will still be able to see an entire pho­to with­out ever hav­ing to scroll.


One of the biggest changes from any of my pre­vi­ous designs is the use of a non-sys­tem font for body copy. I want­ed to move away from the Helvetica I’ve been using for so long now and give the site a unique feel. I decid­ed on Proxima Nova, which retains human­is­tic pro­por­tions with a some­what geo­met­ric appear­ance. I’m still frus­trat­ing­ly dis­ap­point­ed by the cur­rent state of web typog­ra­phy, so I’ve turned to Typekit to take care of that for me.

Wu Wei 2

Wu Wei, my free WordPress theme, is cur­rent­ly the 5th most pop­u­lar theme on, with over 550,000 blogs using it at the moment (not includ­ing ones being self-host­ed), and it’s become so suc­cess­ful that the admin­is­tra­tors have made it one of the default themes for new sign-ups. By far the most com­mon sup­port ques­tion I get is why the ver­sion isn’t avail­able for users (some have even offered to pay for an update), so I’m very pleased to announce the release of ver­sion 2 for self-host­ed blogs.

The theme has been updat­ed to take advan­tage of new fea­tures that came with WordPress 3.x, such as cus­tom head­er and cus­tom back­ground APIs, cus­tom menu man­age­ment, as well as var­i­ous under-the-hood fix­es and improve­ments. Tags and com­ments have also been includ­ed on the front page, to bring bet­ter stan­dard­iza­tion across and ver­sions.

People have asked me why I don’t charge for such a theme, see­ing as how I’ve poured a tremen­dous amount of time and ener­gy into some­thing used by so many peo­ple. I can only say that Wu Wei has brought me much luck since its release, and thanks to it’s pop­u­lar­i­ty, I’ve met many great peo­ple1, received new design work, and even had a chance to vis­it Britain — things I don’t think would have been pos­si­ble if Wu Wei was a paid theme.

  1. There was even a case of an old ex-girl­friend find­ing me when she decid­ed use Wu Wei before she dis­cov­ered who made it. []

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.

Continue read­ing “Version 12”…

  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. []

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.

Continue read­ing “Version 11”…

The Dawning: Rachel CD Release Concert

When Rachel Beausoleil start­ed work­ing on her lat­est album, she approached me about design­ing the art­work. We sat down and threw around some ideas before she even start­ed record­ing, but did­n’t come up with any­thing sol­id because I did­n’t have a sound to go on. All I knew was that it was a med­ley of songs, not like her last album where the songs fol­lowed a theme.

One day I came home to find a record­ing of the album in my mail­box, yet to be mas­tered. She named the album after the epony­mous track, The Dawning, which is a jazz arrange­ment of the famous song Aquarius, a per­son­al anthem of hers.

The Dawning artwork front

She gave me her notes soon after, so I put on the album and gave it a good lis­ten, feel­ing a cer­tain clar­i­ty from her sound. It made me think about dawn, and space, and sun­ris­es, and hot colours, so I incor­po­rat­ed those ele­ments when lay­ing out the text, as well as some bokeh to give an off-focus glim­mer.

Continue read­ing “The Dawning: Rachel CD Release Concert”…