Posts tagged with "design"

Surreptitiously Published

Japanese design book

It start­ed with this tweet by Jay Hori. I was all like, “What? What blog design book?”.

Jay told me the name, so I found a copy of “クリエーターのための3行レシピ ブログデザイン” through HMV Japan, and they shipped it to me.


I flipped through the book and noticed that some of my web design idols were in there, like Dan Cederholm of SimpleBits and Shaun Inman1. I won­der if Dan or Shaun know they’re in this book. That’s right, I’m on a first name basis with them. We hang.

equivocality page

When I got to recipe 57 (they label all their design tricks as “recipes”), I saw a pic­ture of my web­site. My expe­ri­ences with ther­a­py were on the front page, along with me say­ing “Sometimes I come out feel­ing like a mon­ster, like some hor­ri­ble, fucked-up per­son.” I guess they don’t use English copy edi­tors, and my curse-filled words may give English speak­ing Japanese peo­ple the impres­sion that Canadians are psy­cho­log­i­cal mon­sters.

But aside from my own words, I real­ized it was the only thing I could under­stand. I had to ask some­one who could read Japanese. Someone who just came back from stud­ies there, and was­n’t allow to speak or write English for a month. Maggie. She sent me this:

Your site is being used to explain “Navigation through sim­plis­tic icons”. Or like, sim­ple, low-key, uncom­pli­cat­ed. The right side intro­duces WordPress and Moveable Type and talks about their uses of tem­plates and tem­plate cus­tomiza­tion, then intro­duces your site as doing some­thing (can’t under­stand the word) with the back­ground in con­trast to how you use simple/clean icons as your nav­i­ga­tion.

On the left page, under the screen­shot of your site it says “Displaying nav­i­ga­tion through min­i­mum design. Designated using CSS, the min­i­mum use of files is excel­lent.” Bad trans­la­tion. The way you use your files (I’m guess­ing this refers to the actu­al num­ber of pages and stuff on your site) is also quite min­i­mum and that is nice.


Comment code

And with the code for my com­ment bub­ble right in front of me, I had to won­der about the legal impli­ca­tions. It prob­a­bly was­n’t legal for them to pub­lish my source code, which is why they did­n’t con­tact any of the own­ers of the web­sites to tell them that they were pub­lished. I hear the copy­right laws are noto­ri­ous­ly lax in Japan.

  1. Regarding his use of the old flash head­er that was a wave, inspired by ani­me. Shaun and I were also fea­tured in the Perishable Press min­i­mal­ism in web design series. []

Versace Frames

Versace glasses

I want­ed a bold­er look this time, since my last pair is much more sub­tle. Actually, they’re still my cur­rent pair, as I wear one or the oth­er, depend­ing on the mood.

Following the trend in most of my designs, I’m going for more con­trast and stronger state­ments.

They did­n’t sit quite cor­rect­ly on my face (or most Asian faces, the sales rep told me, as we have nar­row nose bridges), because they don’t have nose pieces. The frames would be too low for my face and my eye­lash­es would brush against the lens­es, so I had to order some nose pads to add on myself, et voilà. A per­fect fit.

Versace logos

Of note is the logo on the arms. This is the first time that I’ve seen the Versace logo like this, but fur­ther research indi­cates that it’s an uncom­mon­ly used alter­nate logo. I thought it was because the reg­u­lar logo would have lines that are too fine for small rep­re­sen­ta­tions, but that does­n’t appear to be the case, as I’ve seen it even small­er on watch­es and bracelets too. Which is just as well, as I would­n’t care to wear any­thing with the Medusa’s head on it.

Version 10.3: The Lifestream

You may have noticed that I’ve adapt­ed my pop­u­lar ver­sion 10 lay­out into a lifestream1. I quite enjoy the con­cept of the lifestream, where you can see a per­son­’s lat­est activ­i­ty that’s up-to-date by the minute. A change like this means a bump up to a full sub-ver­sion num­ber, 10.3

The key to all of this is my new iPhone 3GS. The tech­nol­o­gy has rough­ly caught up to my needs, so I decid­ed to get one this year. Apple tends to announce new iPhone gen­er­a­tions every sum­mer, which means I’ve been plan­ning this design update for months now.

So with this fan­cy new iPhone I can write tweets on-the-go, stay up-to-date on the peo­ple I fol­low, and check my @replies, all with the Tweetie appli­ca­tion2. I once had my tweets inte­grat­ed into the blog, but decid­ed not to stick with this because the fre­quen­cy with which I use twit­ter meant that the sheer num­ber of tweets was flood­ing my RSS feed. Then one day, the real­iza­tion dawned on me to exclude that one cat­e­go­ry from my feed, et voila! A sim­ple workaround that lets peo­ple sub­scribe to my twit­ter stream if they so choose.

I can also take pic­tures with the built-in iPhone cam­era and e‑mail them to Flickr direct­ly from the phone, which will auto­mat­i­cal­ly cre­ate a WordPress post and embed the pic­ture in the entry3. And coin­ci­den­tal­ly enough, the max­i­mum width for images post­ed to Flickr is 500 pix­els, which hap­pens to be exact­ly how wide the main col­umn of my blog is. It’s like it was meant to be.

So there are two new cat­e­gories: one for tweets, and one for snaps. Both of them dis­play with CSS styling unique to each cat­e­go­ry and an icon to denote the type of post. A note on the “snaps” icon; I tried to find some­thing that would rep­re­sent both a cam­era and an iPhone, because the iPhone isn’t a pure cam­era, nor is it just a phone. I decid­ed to use the cam­era app icon built into the iPhone, which says both. There are no com­ments allowed on these entries because I don’t care for dis­cus­sion on such fleet­ing things. If some­one real­ly want­ed to com­ment, they could post a reply through twit­ter, or a com­ment through Flickr.

So unlike most oth­er life streams, this blog is not exact­ly an aggre­ga­tor of var­i­ous ser­vice feeds because there’s a unique WordPress blog entry cre­at­ed for every one of my Flickr posts and tweets as well, each one retrieved from with­in the WordPress loop. I did this to retain a lit­tle inde­pen­dence from ser­vices like Flickr or twit­ter; if I ever chose not to use them any­more, my blog won’t explode into a ball of fire with all the miss­ing entries.

With all of this snazzy integration in place, I can post things quickly and on-the-fly, as long as I have internet access. Which is almost anywhere, now that I have a 3G data plan. Version 10.3 is a reflection of that.

With my ever increas­ing­ly busy life, the abil­i­ty to post snip­pets of things comes as a wel­come change to my reg­u­lar entries, which often take days to write.

  1. If you’re see­ing some strange ren­der­ing issues, they’ll prob­a­bly clear up if you refresh the page. []
  2. This also helps me avoid text mes­sag­ing charges, which is how I wrote tweets before, when I was out in the real world with no inter­net access, though my new data plan has unlim­it­ed texts any­way. []
  3. In an ide­al world, I could send the pic­ture to a WordPress e‑mail address or post it using the iPhone WordPress appli­ca­tion, but the post-by-email option of the for­mer does­n’t allow attach­ments, and the lat­ter has very crude image upload­ing options with only one set width avail­able for resiz­ing. []

Feed Reader

I’m a visu­al per­son. Personally, I’d rather peo­ple vis­it my site instead of adding my feed to an aggre­ga­tor. It’s a sad fact that the num­ber of sub­scribers to my feed near­ly dou­bles my dai­ly vis­i­tors. The look of my site is a reflec­tion of my cur­rent per­son­al­i­ty and mind­set, and even though it has­n’t changed in a while, it’s still rel­e­vant. I’ve held off using a feed read­er for as a long as pos­si­ble, because I believe that a site’s look is as impor­tant as the infor­ma­tion that it con­veys.

But my blogroll keeps grow­ing, and I’ve reluc­tant­ly turned to using an aggre­ga­tor to keep track of the sites I read on a dai­ly basis. It’s a lot more effi­cient, but cold, and bor­ing, and I feel like I’m miss­ing out on some­thing the writer is try­ing to say.

Design Itch

Web design is a fre­quent itch for me, as inspi­ra­tion comes from every­where. Quite often, I come across a beau­ti­ful site that has a clever ele­ment here or an inter­est­ing pat­tern there, and get the urge to redesign my own.

But as there’s no such thing as a per­fect ath­lete, there’s no such thing as a per­fect design. Minimalism, while func­tion­al and acces­si­ble, tends to lack per­son­al­i­ty. Style — while beau­ti­ful and full of char­ac­ter — tends to be biased and stag­nant. I find myself in a con­stant state of flux between the two ideals.

Right now, I’d love to have a big­ger can­vas, some­thing like Days With my Father, where I can dis­play my pho­tos in a much larg­er for­mat (because, real­ly, the impact of a pho­to­graph is lost when it’s small). I’d love to have items orga­nized by columns fit that per­fect­ly in a grid, aligned along nat­ur­al ver­ti­cal rules. I’d love to have some­thing a lit­tle more com­plex, some­thing that invites a view­er to explore fur­ther.

But I’m hap­py with this one. It does what I want. It looks right, no mat­ter what day or mood I’m in.

Having a design that match­es my sit­u­a­tion is impor­tant to me, which means they gen­er­al­ly don’t last longer than a few months, as I tend to evolve with­in that time. There have been many times that I’ve writ­ten, “This is the last redesign for a while”, only to be unsat­is­fied in some way and to change it with­in a few months. I unveiled the cur­rent one at the begin­ning of the year, and it’s prob­a­bly the one I’ve been most sat­is­fied with. Whenever the itch strikes me, I browse through the archives and admire how clean every­thing is, and how dif­fer­ent types of con­tent seems to work in the same area. Then I real­ize how hard it would be to come up with some­thing bet­ter, and the itch goes away.

So no redesign for a while.