design4drupal

Building in the buff

the developer’s “designing in the open”

Steve Fisher and I have talked about “designing in the open” on our Using Blue video podcast. The current design on that website is a work in progress; as we figure out how users are interacting with the content, we’ll tweak and refine the design. The concept is particularly useful in combating “the perfect is the enemy of the good.”

With my personal website, I’d like to extend the designing in the open concept right down to the roots. This site needs to be upgraded to Drupal 7, so I’ve decided to document and illustrate the entire process of rebooting my website.

This will not be a simple upgrade. I’ll be re-thinking the purpose and goals of my site and rebuilding it from the ground up. And I’ll be attempting to incorporate a myriad of design principles and best practices as I go.

Stop ignoring Lorem Ipsum

And learn to use your tools properly

A quick Google search shows the “Death to Lorem Ipsum” meme is a reoccurring one that is once again hitting the twittersphere this week while An Event Apart is in Boston. Their points about understanding the content during the design phase are completely essential when creating websites, but their rallying cry is completely off base.

Crying “death to lorem ipsum” because real content keeps breaking our design is like crying “death to hammers” because we keep hitting our thumb.

Imagine if Vera Wang was asked to design outfits for a team of people.

Let’s say her client doesn’t initially tell her anything about the people she needs to design clothing for. So, Vera uses Elle McPherson as the model. And the client approves of the design because, of course, it looks fantastic on Elle.

But when Lebron James and the Miami Heat show up for their outfits and look completely ridiculous in misshapen clothing, let me be clear…

Do not blame Elle McPherson!

Lorem ipsum is just a model of real content. If the designer uses the wrong model, its not the model’s fault.

Theming the Drupalcon Chicago Track

Tales of a Track Chair

The Drupalcon Chicago 2011 track chairs met for the first time last week. Our first task is to come up with track descriptions. For the first time, Theming is going to be separate track from Design and UX. While this shows a nice focus on these interrelated but distinct topics, I'm still trying to come up with a good description that helps define the dividing line between design and theming for sessions proposals like “Designing with CSS3”.

Anyway, here’s my first draft for my track’s description:

Theming Track

As Drupal’s mighty hands build markup, styling and dynamic behaviours, the lowly Newbs have forever strived to comprehend this Magic. With gnashing of teeth, wailing and despair often being their pitiful state. But, lo! Behold the mighty Drupalcon Theming Track. Forthwith, We, the Gods of Drupal, beseech the worthy to attend this track and despair no more.
[insert thunder crack here]

Hmm… I may have to tone it down. A bit.

Stylesheets Not Loading?

31 Reasons to Hate Internet Explorer

Back in the day, all the CSS of the sites I built were in a single file: style.css. Things were easy. I built the site; I organized my styles; I knew where everything was.

Of course, then I discovered the power of leveraging an open-source community. And now there are innumerable developers writing the CSS for my websites. To keep things manageable, each module of functionality has its own stylesheet.

Unfortunately, once you get in the habit of having multiple stylesheets for your website, you will eventually run into a weird problem with Internet Explorer: some of your styles won’t apply. At all.

And if you have sufficient Google-fu, you’ll eventually discover this is a little known bug: Internet Explorer will only load the first 31 stylesheets and will ignore the rest. And this isn’t even limited to our usual suspect, IE6. All versions of IE have this limitation.

The Full Problem
and why I was insane enough to load 993 stylesheets on one page

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