I’m delighted to announce the latest major revision of the WordPress theme files that power how ErosBlog appears on your screen. Please let me know how it works for you!

Major changes include:

  • Larger fonts everywhere. My original designer, seven years ago, used a then-trendy style of reducing all the font sizes roughly 25% from browser default as controlled by the user. Seven years later, I’m now somewhat wiser about respecting user/client preferences. So, fonts now bigger by default. And if you change them in your browser, stuff should work better, because:
  • Flexible spacing. The old design had a lot of fixed-pixel spacing. I haven’t rooted them all out, but now, for the most part, white space expands and contracts depending on the available screen space and the browser-default or user-adjusted font sizing.
  • Responsive(ish) design. A major goal of this effort was to make Erosblog less painful to use on phones and tablets and even very large screens. I’ve made feeble efforts in the past, but was hampered by my utter lack of comprehension regarding things like viewports and media queries. Now, as you view ErosBlog on increasingly smaller screen sizes, bits of the layout go away or get smaller and some mobile-friendly nav elements appear. As you move onto bigger screens, things should also look better, due to the fixed-pixel sizing mostly being gone.

Please, please, please let me know if ErosBlog is hopelessly or uselessly borked in any way for you on any device at any screen size. Leave a comment (or email me) with the problem you’re seeing, and don’t forget to mention your device and/or operating system and browser.

I do ask that you be gentle. Coding work like this is rather hard for me; I’m a liberal-arts graduate with no training for it and little understanding (all hard-won). I’m very much of a cargo-cult programmer, building stuff by cutting and pasting bits of other stuff that already works while having imperfect comprehension (or none at all!) of how the stuff fails or why it ever worked in the first place. I’ve probably got fifty hours into this latest revision, and I know how far from done I am. But if I wait to release it until it’s done and perfect, it will never be released. So, here are some major items that I hope to still deal with “later”:

  • Fundamental design. Seven years ago my designer flaked with the job half done, and I ended up pasting up a Frankenstein monster consisting of her visuals wrapped around a skeleton of my old table-based structure that I originally wrote for a different content-management system and then ported to Greymatter before porting it again to WordPress. I’d dearly love to start over and write a new template from the ground up, with nothing borrowed from websites I “built” in 2000 by copy-pasting html from other sites. But for a cargo-cult programmer like me, that’s a huge job. Realistically, it may never happen.
  • Validation and accessibility. My cargo-cult cut-and-paste CSS is full of errors, kludges (can you find the same-color-as-background periods used for spacing?), and deprecated stuff. There’s an enormous amount of work still to be done in cleaning it up, getting it to validate, and modernizing it so that elements actually relate to function in a good HTML5 sort of way.
  • Bandwidth friendliness. ErosBlog was born at a time when slow dialup internet connections were thrashing their final death throes, and it’s always been operated on the assumption that readers are at desktops with large screens and bandwidth that’s too cheap to meter. Now that lots of ISPs have bandwidth caps and most smartphones are on limited data plans, there’s a lot more care that could go into serving content in ways that aren’t so bandwidth-wasteful.
  • Visual polish. My only styling concern during this pass was to make sure that nothing broke horribly. There’s a whole lot of minor visual improvements that I plan to be working on for the next few weeks.

So, what was the boot-to-the-ass that finally got me motivated to do this very painful redesign? Simply, this: in the slightly more than two years since I got my first smartphone, I’ve gotten more and more dependent on it. It finally got to be a big enough fraction of my internet use that I began noticing my own aversive reaction whenever I’d accidentally click through onto a site that sucked (or was completely useless) at 320-pixels. And then I realized I had the very same aversive reaction when I landed at ErosBlog and had to try and pinch-zoom the content column large enough to read. And if I myself was having that reaction, how many others must be? Meanwhile, I kept landing with pleasure on mobile-friendly sites that put the content front-and-center and politely vanished most of the huge nav and advertising stuff that fills large screens. Eventually I couldn’t stand it. I want people to feel like that when they land on ErosBlog! So, I dug in and got to work.

Hopefully it’s better now. Do you know anybody who used to read ErosBlog but gave up in disgust because it sucked on their phone? If so, I’d be forever in your debt if you’d ask them to pretty-please have another look. Thanks ever so much.

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