Some Notes on the Design of, Circa 2008

June 26th, 2008 / 0 Comments

I’ve just released what will likely be the last comprehensive design update to this site. The design bug started earlier in the spring when I set out to make some usability improvements to the site based on data from Google Analytics. The weeks that followed, however, have also led to revisions to the typography, freshening of the color palate, updating to the latest version of Wordpress, re-architecting the templating system, clarifying and synchronizing tags, reordering the source code, adding microformats, clarifying miscellaneous copy, creating my own parsing function for the 5 imported RSS feeds, adding some fabulous JavaScript/jQuery enhancements, and moving to a new server.

It was a lot of work, probably too much, though I believe I have accomplished future-proofing at least 80% of the site. Nevertheless, I have decided that from this point forward, rather than making wide-sweeping but infrequent overhauls to the site I will be taking advantage of subtle but frequently occurring realignments.

What is a Realign?

In 2005 web designer Cameron Moll wrote a timeless article published on A List Apart titled “Good Designers Redesign, Great Designers Realign,” with the basic idea that:

The desire to redesign is aesthetic-driven, while the desire to realign is purpose-driven.

Based on Cameron’s definition I would argue that my recent changes already qualify as a realign. However, going forward I intend to take the realign concept one step further. I want to be in the habit of always realigning. Allow me to make an adventurous theological analogy.

A Probably Not-So-Great Analogy Comparing Evangelical Notions of Salvation to Web Design

In the evangelical world the popular understanding of salvation is that of one specific moment in time where one is “saved” once and for all. The out with the old in with the new perspective is roughly similar to the idea of a redesign, where an old design gets replaced by a new design and everything is a done deal.

In some of the less confident, or more excitable, shadows of evangelicalism it is common to hear of “recommitting” oneself. This view believes that things can still go awry despite a well-intentioned “salvific experience” and thus the individual might benefit from refocusing their life after thoughtful personal reflection. In a similar manner, a realign understands that while the last redesign may have been well thought out, new circumstances require that recent modifications and enhancements be put in their proper place. A realign takes stock of these recent developments and carries the original intentions of the design one step further.

A third concept, uncommon among evangelicals despite being quite “biblical,” is the Pauline idea of salvation. The Pauline view of salvation, taken from some of Paul’s New Testament letters, speaks of being saved as something that is both a present and ongoing activity. From this perspective, each decision and action can take one further along the path of being a disciple of Christ. Realigning likewise suggests an always present ongoing activity where each adjustment improves some manner of the usability, accessibility, presentation, or performance of the redesign. This notion of recurring improvements is where I intend to journey with this site for the next couple years.

I hope you enjoy my work in progress. If you have any comments regarding the recent realign, or suggestions for ways you think I can improve the site going forward I would love to hear them.

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Hi, my name is Scott and I design websites. You can see some of them by visiting my portfolio. When I have the time (which is seldom these days) I like to blog about Christianity, especially theology/ethics. If you want to know more you can read my about page or follow me on Twitter.


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