Design update and thoughts on coding

I recently redesigned my blog because I was not completely satisfied with the old look. I thought it was a bit too dark and a bit too messy. Instead of starting from the scratch and building my own theme I adjusted the Coffee Spot theme I was using. There is one main reason why I did not attempt to build my own theme from the scratch: I am not a coder.

I am not a PHP coder
I can read code and interpret most of the code so most of the time I can adjust the code to my needs but I cannot write it so that it suits my needs. I am sure I could learn it if I had the time but unfortunately time is not always on my side.

I am not a CSS coder
Some people argue CSS is not code while others argue that markup languages are in fact code (more on this later). I side myself with those who see CSS as code and I see and experience CSS as an executed markup code. The effects of the coding are not visible until it is interpreted and executed by a browser. I have never really learned CSS but because I know HTML it is fairly easy to interpret and adjust. In the early days of making websites content and markup were interwoven in HTML. With the advent of CSS those two were separated making it easier and quicker to adjust the look of a website. For example font type and size were no longer directly coded into HTML but defined in a separate Cascading Style Sheet. The fact that the style sheet is cascading means that it is highly hierarchic. This hierarchy is the main thing I struggled with while changing the design of my site.

One of the powers of style sheets is that there is a hierarchy of relationships. These relationships are defined by the concepts of cascade, inheritance, and specificity within the language of CSS.1

I am not completely done with the redesign of my site yet but I am amazed that pretty much everything was accomplished just by changing things in the style sheet. No need to adjust the PHP except for adding one single line in the footer to show my tagcloud which was previously nested in a widget (more on PHP in widgets later). I am quite eager to dive into CSS to fine tune my site. Before and after the makeover:

Before After

The main problem I am focusing on now is the fact that my Now Reading plugin doesn’t display my books correctly. I am pretty sure this has to do with the hierarchy and inheritance aspect of style sheets.

  1. Holzschlag, Molly. Cascading style sheets : the designer’s edge . San Francisco Calif.: SYBEX. p. 43 []

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