Monday, August 2, 2010

Web design

I'm beginning to think I missed my calling. Perhaps I should have been a professional web designer. I get a huge kick out of it.

I finally understand why: it mixes technical problem solving (really a certain kind of programming), which I enjoy, with the demands of artistry. On the one hand, the successful web designer must be fluent in the sometimes complex technical languages that make web design happen: HTML, CSS, XML, Javascript, and so on. I'm fairly proficient in the first two, and just dangling my toes in the water of the latter two. (Frankly, I find Javascript pretty grimy.)

At the same time, a good web designer has to have an eye for layout, understand relationships between elements, have some degree of skill in manipulating images, and be able to put typography to good use. As my wife (and, for that matter, friends from high school) can attest, I love fonts. I sometimes pick them off of signs driving down the road. I am certainly weaker in this area than in the "coding" aspect of web design, but I enjoy it as much or more. Recently, I have found myself studying web sites, admiring the good ones and critiquing the less good ones.

Even more amusingly, I find myself looking at designs and pondering how I could improve them, what I would do to make them compelling and useable.

Over the last three days, I have done a good deal more tweaking to Pillar's back end, yielding a fairly significant change in the front end appearance (go take a look). Along the way, I've puzzled out how to accomplish a number of tasks with Blogger's backend that, in my search across the web in the past have generally been considered difficult or impossible. I have also helped my sister with the site for the bike she works at, Ascent Cycling—I made different header images appear in different pages.

(Never let anyone tell you that Wordpress is more powerful or more customizable than Blogger. It's just easier to customize under certain conditions. I have used both quite a bit, and they both have their pluses and minuses.)

Because I spent a fair amount of mental energy on these puzzles, and because the answers to them, near as I can tell, do not appear anywhere else on the internet, I will be posting a few of them in the next week so that I can help others (just as plenty of other bloggers have helped me along the way). These will be more like reference pages than my normal content, so apologies to my normal readers, but I know the pages will be helpful to others in the future. (Those of you who enjoy messing with blogger may find it interesting!)

[If you're wondering about that essay I mentioned last Saturday, it's about a third done. The content is substantial and it's requiring significantly more time than I expected. That combined with the aforementioned web design efforts has led to a short delay in its publication. Worry not: it is still coming.]


  1. Please don't think you "missed" your "calling." Although you're good at puzzles, following God is not suppose to be a puzzle. It's suppose to be quite simple, "What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."
    Of course, it seems complicated because of the presence of sin in the world. We need wisdom.
    Anyway, I think it was Augustine that said, "Love God. Do what you want."
    God gives us freedom, responsibility, and wisdom to make decisions. He doesn't give us puzzle that we have to figure out by a certain time in our life. I know you know this, but it's good to be reminded at times. I like hearing it over and over again.

  2. Web design doesn't pay too well. ;)
    -- David

  3. Um. You don't have to have a degree in web design in order to be a professional. You just have to get paid.

    Therefore, if you can get paid, you too can be a professional web designer. Physics degree or not.

  4. Everyone is taking that first line far more seriously than I intended. It was a dramatic entrance to a post. I think I need to start inserting <hyperbole> tags into my posts!

    Travis, thanks for the accurate theological response; as you're well aware I agree. One of the things I need to figure out is how to distinguish between my theologically theological posts, and my just-thinking-out-loud (and all the imprecision that implies) posts.

    Thoughts? (A flame? Heh.)

  5. Hey, Chris, *I* didn't take that line far more seriously than it was supposed to be taken! Well...that might be because you looked right at me and said it with that little grin of yours. You know how bad I am about reading humor. ;)

    I hope you get more and more chances to use this gift (as indeed it is) to help others, to continue having fun and to glorify our Father!


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