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October 30, 2005

Look and Feel Update

Okay, I've made a couple of tweaks to the layout of the Whatever from the last time I noted the tweaking. The new tweaks include:

* Making the photo strip repeat vertically so it doesn't end abruptly;

* Making the sidebar blue so the black background is not so contrasty (the black background has also been upgraded; now it's a very very very very dark blue), and making the main text area a solid light blue color.

* Changing the typeface of the main text to sans serif. Depending on which fonts you have, you'll now see the main text as Optima or Myriad Web (if you have neither, it'll default to the former fonts and you won't notice a difference). I've also tweaked the leading for the text to make it slightly more dense. I've also changed the headline font in Windows; on Mac it should stay the same.

Hopefully all of this will make the Whatever even more readable for you, the discerning consumer.  

Update: 3am -- What do you know: turns out you don't need to have the main content pane a set width. You can make it a percentage instead. And so I have: The main content pane is now 65% of the width of the page, with the text window being 75% of that and the sidebar being 25%. For folks at 1024x786, this means everything fits pretty much exactly as it should. With smaller windows things will start to look scrunched (particularly pictures) but the text collapses so it can remain readable. Larger resolutions, of course, will have no problems whatsoever (except that if you have your browser superwide, the text window will get a little wide for reading).

Let me know how that works for you.  

Posted by john at October 30, 2005 01:29 AM

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Wild Waldo | October 30, 2005 01:46 AM

Well, guess it'll have to move to a bookmark on my browser, to be checked every few days, like all the blogs that don't offer newsfeeds. Doh!

Just so happens my newsreader is easiest to use in a 1/4-3/4 format, where the left 1/4 of the screen is the list of newsfeeds. This of course means that every single entry needs to be scrolled over to be seen. And I'm lazy.

John Scalzi | October 30, 2005 01:50 AM

Well, two things. One, I offer not one but two newsfeeds, including one that gives the full text. Two, changing my background here should have no impact on how you receive the text via newsfeeds.

I like the new design, so if it results in a few people visiting less often for whatever reason, that's fine.

Audrey Estock | October 30, 2005 02:13 AM

I think the new tweaks work quite well. Changing the background color from black to very very very very dark blue has lessened the problem I was having with contrast before. Thank you for that! The repeating images was also a good idea. Though as for the font... I actually can't tell much difference, but I'm honestly thinking that's because I have a horrible memory.

Geez, you changing the whatever layout makes me finally want to figure out how to change mine from the default Movable Type one!

Alice | October 30, 2005 03:06 AM

Dang it. Now the calendar is scooched over one column so the last column isn't viewable. Minor quibble, I know.

Alice | October 30, 2005 03:07 AM

...And apparently highlighting in Firefox fixes all. Never mind.

John Scalzi | October 30, 2005 03:13 AM

I'm tweaking that, Alice. Should be fixed momentarily.

doubt | October 30, 2005 03:28 AM

Hmmm. Top banner needs work (unless you plan on changing the name of the blog to "Vhateve" -- plus the text underneath is unreadable on this monitor).

Text against a very dark and very light background... No way to win that one, probably.

John Scalzi | October 30, 2005 03:42 AM

I don't know. I can see the banner text on both my Mac & PC; it's not that hard to discern the "W" or to read the sub-text.

doubt | October 30, 2005 04:01 AM

Well, the web design part of my brain tends to think "not that hard" is an awfully low standard to shoot for. FWIW.

Not that it has any effect on me, I already know where I am when I'm reading here.

Therese Norén | October 30, 2005 06:22 AM

Thank you for choosing percentages instead.

I had, until a few months ago, a seven year old computer, with a 7-something* x 1024 resolution. Yes, in that order. I don't understand why portrait screens are so rare, because it makes reading so much easier. Until someone chooses to fix the width in pixels.

At least, you didn't set noscroll. _That_ was evil.

*No, not 86.

chibent | October 30, 2005 07:38 AM

That picture of Country!Athena alone is worth the subscription price.

Kevin Q | October 30, 2005 08:21 AM

Love the new layout. Thanks for setting the variable-width page. The new font is nice, too.


Leslie | October 30, 2005 08:43 AM

I like the new font - much more readable. Like having the pix in the sidebar too.

Christopher | October 30, 2005 09:48 AM

I dig it. Do you guys have two cats?

John Scalzi | October 30, 2005 09:51 AM

Yes, we have two cats: Lopsided Cat and Ghlaghghee. We used to have three, but Rex died earlier this year. Right now we're of the opinion that two cats is a good number to have.

RooK | October 30, 2005 11:23 AM

Meh. I feel that any and all readability issues of the title image are mere quibbling because the important wordification enjoys high contrast action on the window header anyway.

Wan Zafran | October 30, 2005 11:25 AM

It's pretty comfortable as it is already. Although I still have a minor quibble with that header text thingy. Heh, you can never satisfy everyone, so just don't bother, John.

Unless, you'd like me to try and design a header for you? I'm pretty okay with these kind of things.

Lanna Lee Maheux-Quinn | October 30, 2005 11:47 AM

I like it, it's cool. My only suggestion would be to center the content on the page.

I could say that it upsets my sense of order, the page aligning to the left, but if you saw my office/apartment right now you would wonder, "She has a sense of order? Huh."

I guess it does though.

sharon | October 30, 2005 12:33 PM

I just used the search box (to look for the recent camera posts), and the search results diplay black text on the very dark blue background, which requires highlighting to read.

Perhaps you need to add the style sheet to the search results page separately?

John Scalzi | October 30, 2005 02:08 PM

Fixed it, Sharon. You should be able to see search results now.

Pam | October 30, 2005 02:43 PM

I like it, even though it takes longer to load. More kitty pictures.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden | October 30, 2005 04:15 PM

Oh my gosh, that text is hard to read. Serifs exist for a reason. Really.

Perhaps this is just my particular blend of astigmatism and presbyopia, but man oh man, that's literally painful.

John Scalzi | October 30, 2005 04:38 PM


"Serifs exist for a reason. Really."

That's a mildly ironic statement.

I personally generally prefer serifs to sans serif fonts, particularly when reading a lot of text, but I actually find optima (the font most Mac users see) as very readable, which is why I use it.

Wild Waldo | October 30, 2005 04:40 PM

Sweet! Thanks for the move to %, now I can read in pure unadulterated lazy!

John Scalzi | October 30, 2005 04:43 PM

I live to serve.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden | October 30, 2005 10:50 PM

Your link is screwed up, but it doesn't take a genius to guess that it was supposed to point to Making Light.

A weblog run by, I note, more than one person--and Teresa has her own views. You may recall that Electrolite's body text was Georgia, a serif font.

I personally continue to believe that serif fonts are better for body text--and that Optima is particularly awful. As I said, it it literally painful to decode for my particular variety of bad eyesight.

John Scalzi | October 30, 2005 11:11 PM

Odd how people react differently to fonts.

Patrick, to spare your eyes and yet allow you to continue to enjoy my semi-coherent ramblings, may I suggest that you subscribe to the ScalziWhatever subscription feed on LiveJournal? It's the Atom feed, so you'll get the full entry, and as it will be on your friends page, you can format it in any font you like. Also, it's more useful than friending my Scalzi LJ account, which I almost never update.

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