Blog

Category: Web

  • Minimalism vs. Simplicity

    This really made me think (from It Isn’t Minimalism at Usability Post):

    Clear, clean and simple design isn’t minimalist. It’s just good, clear design.

    I always look at minimalist web design roundups with great interest because they inspire me, yet for some reason I never thought about how that is in direct opposition to my general indifference toward minimalism in music. Minimalism in music is characterized by patterns that repeat, with the interest generally being in shifting rhythms and/or small changes in tonality that are more apparent because of all the repetition. Minimalism in web design (and design and architecture at large) refers more to the stripping down of a subject to its basics. I suppose you could say that minimalism in music and design represent the same aesthetic, but most minimalist music bores me to tears and I would be pretty aggravated if somebody were to approach me and say that it represents the only necessary elements of music.

    I’d opine that the author of the sentence I quoted above is right in questioning whether or not minimalism is the right word, as opposed to something like simple and functional. I’d then have to argue that “good” is far too subjective and that simplicity neither represents good nor bad on its own. I also have to say that just because I’m inspired by these minimalist/clean/functional websites doesn’t mean I don’t still love things that are make huge visual impact in the opposite way (though they must still be clean and functional or I get annoyed very quickly). I wonder how long this trend will last before everything starts to look essentially the same. Sometimes decoration is necessary to give something its own individual character, much like ornamentation can tell you which Baroque composer or architect created a piece. I just hope that the simple, clean functionality espoused by these “minimalist” websites can carry over into web design at large.

    Bonus: Music I love that is so not minimalism (and yes, the ending is ridiculous slash bordering on funny):

  • XKCD does it again

    A perfect summary of my current job frustrations:

    University Website

  • Object-Oriented PHP

    So clear and beginner-friendly, it doesn’t need a summary from me: Object-Oriented PHP for Beginners at Tutsplus+

  • More WordPress thoughts

    I know it’s common to put a lot of time, energy, and work into other people’s projects and let your own personal ones suffer. I feel like that’s what’s happened to my own blog.

    First of all, I need to write more, period. Second of all, I need to modernize this theme and add some functionality! I spend so much time these days making custom CMS themes and functions and super-awesome screenshot-filled documentation and installing and configuring a ridiculous number of plugins for clients and my regular job, but I don’t seem to bother with my own.

    I’m still using this ancient theme (which I don’t change because I still like it) and it’s got some old old stuff going on. The comments are especially ugly and don’t have threading enabled. I’m sure it’d be easy enough for me to fix my own stuff, but I guess it’ll have to wait until I don’t feel guilty for not focusing on open projects, including a piano recital next Wednesday. Perhaps I’ll use that Lady René font (yes, the purchase happened) to make a new header so I feel like I’ve done something. But for now, off to do a little late-night practicing that won’t bother my neighbors!

  • WordPress 3 Function: Sites in Dashboard menu

    Edit on May 26, 2011: With the release of WP 3.1, the admin bar has links to each of your sites. Way easier, but that doesn’t keep this from working. I just won’t make this into a plugin. Also, subdomains need a different treatment!

    In the process of creating a WordPress theme for work (trying to move to WP as CMS! YAY!), I realized that the procedure for accessing the Dashboard for a site besides the one you are on can be a little obtuse and involves too much clicking. Since a huge part of the focus and reasoning behind this project is ease of use for content editors (death to Contribute), I thought it would be smart to have direct links to each applicable Dashboard within the Dashboard admin menu. In conjunction with Ozh’s wonderful Admin Drop Down Menu, I have to say that it looks pretty freaking awesome. I put this function in the theme’s functions.php file so that it applies to all network sites, but I wonder if it would be a smart thing to write and release as a plugin. So, here for you to use or rip apart – only mild testing has been done, so don’t be too mean:

    /* add dashboard links to each user site underneath the Dashboard admin menu */
    
    function hhs_sites_menu() {
    	global $current_user;
    	$sites = get_blogs_of_user( $current_user->id );
    
    	// make sure multisite is on, the current user has permissions, and has more than one site
    	if ( is_multisite() && current_user_can('read') && count($sites) > 1 ) {
    		foreach ( $sites as $site ) {
    			// make the URL a relative path; escape twice in case the user is in a network site (subdirectory)
    			$relative_admin_url = preg_replace('/http:\/\/www\.yourdomain\.com/', '../..', get_admin_url($site->userblog_id) );
    
    			add_dashboard_page( $site->blogname, $site->blogname, 'read', esc_url($relative_admin_url) );
    		}
    	}
    }
    
    add_action('admin_menu', 'hhs_sites_menu');

    I’d like to deal with the URL to each Dashboard in a better way. Escaping up two directories is hacky and ugly and wouldn’t work for somebody on a subdomain multisite installation of WP3. It has to do with the way WP wants an internal page within your current wp-admin – the better way would probably be to use a make the callback function redirect to the appropriate Dashboard. This would also allow me to use CSS to define icons for the drop-down version of the admin menu. I could use CSS now, but the ID that is generated is super ugly (i.e. oamsub_http:_______wp-admin – YUCK). Maybe during work hours tomorrow I’ll chew on it a little more.

    If I were to make this into a plugin, I’d want/need to:

    • Make it compatible with both subdomain and subdirectory multisite setups
    • Only allow network activation (makes no sense to only have it activated in one, at least to me)
    • Make it easy for a network admin to assign a custom icon to each site for use wherever applicable (i.e. the admin menu drop-down)

    Thoughts? Hesitations?