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Perishable Press

Time for a New Design?

As you may know, Perishable Press was redesigned only several months ago. As much as I enjoy the transparent imagery of the Quintessential theme (opens new window or tab), I find it too distracting and complicated for everyday use.

So I have redesigned, yet again. The new theme is called “Requiem” (opens new window or tab) and is return to my minimalist roots (opens new window or tab). There is something calming and yet energizing about working with a streamlined, no-fuss interface, especially when you are extremely busy. The new theme was completed in December of last year, and I have been using it behind the scenes ever since.

Now I want to know what you think about the new design. Is it an improvement over the previous, more colorful theme? I will be taking your feedback into consideration when deciding whether or not to keep the new “Requiem” theme as the default. Let me know your thoughts! Thanks :)

Jeff Starr
About the Author Jeff Starr = Designer. Developer. Producer. Writer. Editor. Etc.
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57 responses
  1. Jeff Starr

    @Kim: the Quintessential is much more expressive in terms of visual and functional design, even to the point of distraction and, as you have pointed out, usability. Conversely, the new Requiem theme was a reactive design that focuses primarily on usability and accessibility, unfortunately at the expense of creativity and a more provocative interface. I am still learning as I go, and think that, if I can do what you suggest and find that happy medium between the two, will finally arrive at a solution that finds the balance and is suitable to everyone. Seems like a worthwhile goal, I think.

    @Muhaimin: thanks for the comment, but I think you are looking at the old theme. Re-read the post carefully and activate the new “Requiem” theme. It should look much less like a colorful, compartmentalized art gallery, and much more like a clean, minimalist-inspired design.

  2. I really liked Quint, but found that it was difficult to read the posts. For that reason, I read 95% of your posts in my RSS reader and only clicked through to the site for fun. Your new design is much easier to read and I feel that a few tweaks can make this a top notch theme. My only real suggestion is that you need to either add some additional navigation to the top or to a sidebar. I do not like scrolling to the bottom of the page to get to the site navigation. And yes, I did see the three links at the top, but not until after I had manually scrolled the page the first time.

  3. Well, I like both designs because you have done a great job. Perhaps I prefer the minimalistic one, but it’s a question of taste.

  4. Well, I like both designs because you have done a great job. Perhaps I prefer the minimalistic one, but it’s a question of taste. I note that the Quintessential theme slow too much my browser (FF, IE, Opera…), maybe due to the background image.

  5. I did a similar job myself recently – and built a theme from the ground up for simplicity of published content, but still a little visual impact – ended up with the following;

    http://www.beckettwebdesign.com

  6. Hey Jeff

    I like this ‘Requiem’ a lot!

    But – I think you need to re-visit the markup of the search form. There is no ‘onsubmit’ attribute defined for a form element in XHTML, as you well know ;)

    Btw, what process are you using to tidy the output, and do you think it’s a good idea to do this? (Or is it an in- development thang?)

    Cheers, keep it up!

  7. @jeff: I see dark grey right here, where I’m typing my comment in the box. In fact perhaps it’s black on grey; only punctuation and misspelt words (rather grateful for the latter or I’d misspell more) show up light-coloured.

  8. Jeff Starr

    @Irina: and you are using the new minimalist theme, correct? If so, may I ask which operating system and browser you are using so I can investigate and possibly remedy the issue? Also, would an even lighter background for the comment form help with usability? Thanks!

  9. Jeff Starr

    @Brian: Thanks for the feedback! There are links at the top (“explore”) and bottom (“top”) that enable quick scrolling to either end of the page, but I realize that this may be a bit esoteric (and difficult to discover) in terms of navigation for the average user dropping in and checking things out. Based on your (and others’) feedback, I am thinking my next theme will be somewhat of a hybrid between this and the previous theme. Sidebar included, of course, for easier navigation! ;)

    @Bleyder: Yes, performance is one of the central focal points of the new theme. Far fewer images, transparencies, and rounded borders to slow things down, especially while scrolling. Glad to you hear you like the new minimalist theme. :)

    @Jonathan: That is a beautiful theme as well! I would say you accomplished your specified design goals — nice and clean with plenty of visual interest. Kudos!

    @Jeff M: No onsubmit attributes defined for for XHTML form elements!?!? Who’s responsible for this! Off with their heads! ;) For the clean output, that is entirely the result of my obsessive-compulsive tweaking of everything I can get my hands on. I much prefer seeing well-formatted and well-structured markup than the jumbled mess spit out by WordPress by default.

  10. speaking of gravatars and performance; did you trial locally cached gravatars then? was there any speed benefits to it or just a waste of a cron job and space

  11. Jeffrey!

    Your mission statement is standards compliance. Inline event handlers bring the W3C sky down on your head and a plague on thy hoose ;)

    Hey. I love tidy markup when I’m pimping a design. But my tests – empirical as they are – show that indentation adds typically 20% or more to the size of the source markup. In the case of this particular page, that would be around 15K or possibly more of tidy but redundant nothingness.

    Markup is for machines. They don’t give a rat’s a$$ about tidy.

    I am starting to lust for this theme in an unhealthy way, y’nah?

    Do I need therapy?

  12. ah; ideas;…well as you know im not much of coder but just full of ideas :p

    I was just thinking along the lines:

    PART1
    1) WordPress checks number of comments by user
    2) If comment = > X then Step 3 otherwise end.
    3) Grab Users Gravatar from their site (via curl etc)
    4) Save these in Folder Y locally

    PART2
    1) Comment form checks if user is part of ‘step 2’ list; if yes step 2 otherwise grabs form gravatar site,
    2) use on the fly and/or preloading of these gravatars on pages they comment on.

    The benefits of this (the way I see it is)

    1) less external requests – the flip side being its internal resource usage now.

    2) less http requests – as Part2 Step2 will have the gravatar images cached/prelaoded etc people who comment a lot (yourself etc) will only ‘load’ their Gravatar once (using preloading etc) and just be ‘called’ from the cache multiple times.

    3) it’ll be cached! you could probably also add more image tweaks if the need arises to make them ‘more’ smaller or whatever :p

    and thats my ‘idea’ I got a million and one of ’em ;)

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