Archive for ‘design’ category
A few weeks ago, we moved the studio (affectionately dubbed the BitCave) across the street to newer, slightly larger digs. It’s more comfortable, the windows open, we have our own temperature controls–you know, real lavish stuff.
Yesterday, we relaunched the SimpleBits Shop, bringing the fulfillment back in house. Our slightly larger space is able to accomodate the stock, and now each order will be lovingly hand-packed by resident Commerce Director, Meagan Fisher. I’m excited to grow this arm of the business, since it fulfills a creative outlet for non-digital goods.
New at the shop is the Bit Monsters limited edition letterpress print. Just 200 copies, signed and numbered. It was printed here in Massachusetts (New Bedford, to be exact) at EM Letterpress, who I can’t recommend enough. I had the pleasure of visiting the press while the print ran, and watched and learned about the process from owner Elias Roustom. Here’s a video taken that day of the print process on the Heidelberg Windmill.
Also available, in limited quantity, is the official Dribbble tee. We’ll be ordering more sizes, and more importantly announcing news about the site and its launch very soon.
Delicious typography. A super-soft, “Tri-Blend” t-shirt in espresso brown from American Apparel, printed with everyone’s favorite logogram (set in Knockout‘s Ultra Sumo weight). Peanut butter? Mustard? Fluff? Jelly? Either way, we think the ampersand is a ligature for eat and not et.
The Ampersandwich Tee is available now over at the shop. For fine typography aficionados such as yourself.
Well, after 6+ years on an ancient and highly customized install of Movable Type 3.15, and 4+ years on various homegrown CMS solutions, I’ve finally upgraded the guts of this site. I chose WordPress. Sure, there are several other excellent options out there to power the blogs of 2010 and beyond, but the familarity of WP, its plugins, pricetag and other factors all fed into the decision. Plus, I told Matt in the halls of SWSW in 2003 that I’d try his little weblog project. I’m finally following through on that.
Exporting thousands of entries isn’t fun. But luckily plenty of folks have done this before. Overall, I’m feeling spolied by the little things that have been commonplace for you folks that are smart about upgrading your blogging engine more often than I. With the Notebook sections ported over, I wanted to launch things and tweak as I have time. That said, there are still parts of the site that still need migrating help (namely, the Work section). Eventually all will be under one roof.
Along with the backend switch, I made a few minor visual tweaks to the site as well (hence the title of this post, “WoodPress”). Nothing terribly exciting. If anything, it’s a slight step backward, to the layouts of SimpleBits’ past. Like anyone who used to blog with frequency pre-2005, I’d like to post here more often — not just to fill up bits and bytes, but to write again. Remember when blogs were more casual and conversational? Before a post’s purpose was to grab search engine clicks or to promise “99 Answers to Your Problem That We’re Telling You You’re Having”. Yeah. I’d like to get back to that here.
Then again, history teaches us that it probably won’t happen. But at least now I can’t blame the software.
Oh, and there’s a new feed now (although the old feed URLs should redirect if my .htaccess is up to snuff).
Author copies of Handcrafted CSS arrived today. I took some pictures of it. Related: just 7 more days of early-bird pricing for the Handcrafted CSS workshop on September 14th here in Salem, Massachusetts. Book now. Book often.
We’ve printed up a new version of the popular Charge Tee. This time around, it’s a rusted battery on a Navy Blue, 100% cotton shirt from American Apparel. It’s also the first item in our newly relaunched shop.simplebits.com.
The fine folks at AcmePrints have been printing SimpleBits tees for us for years, and they’re now handling the order fulfillment as well. This will allow us to concentrate on more important stuff, like offering more designs, rather than packing and shipping shirts (even though we enjoyed that).
The shop itself runs on the excellent bigcartel, a simple, hosted shopping cart for independent merchants. We love it, and Meagan was even singing its praises while doing the CSS customization, which all means good things.
Stay tuned for more of the original Charge Tees, and some other new designs as we grow the shop a bit more.
Now that we’ve announced the book, we can also announce another exciting thing: Handcrafted CSS: A Day of Markup & Style will be a unique, one-day workshop presented by Ethan Marcotte and myself on September 14, 2009 at the Hawthorne Hotel here in Salem, Massachusetts.
You’ll get a copy of the book (the Video Edition, including the DVD), and we’ll present the content live, throughout four takeway-packed sessions, followed by Q&A. Breakfast, lunch and two snack breaks are also provided. And we’ll cap off the day with an after party at an awesome location to be determined.
The Hawthorne Hotel is located in downtown Salem, just 16 miles north of Boston. It’s also just a 10-minute walk from the MBTA Commuter Rail station which connects Salem to Boston in about 25 minutes.
This will be a unique opportunity to buy a book, then have the authors work through it live, with a chance to ask questions along the way. It’s sure to be a fun day — and we’re pretty damned excited about it.
Early-bird and student tickets are now available at a discounted price of $399 per person. Act quick! There’s limited seating for 100 fine people like you.
Oh, and interested in sponsoring the event? We’d love to hear from you.
I wrote another book. It’s called Handcrafted CSS: More Bulletproof Web Design, and it’ll be published by New Riders next month.
I had help this time. The unstoppable Ethan Marcotte contributed an absolute gem of a chapter on the fluid grid. And I think it’s worth the cover price for the pages he authored alone. You might remember Ethan’s recent article on the subject over at A List Apart, and his chapter builds quite a bit on that, while tying it back into the book’s case study. And fellow beverage aficionado and bon vivant, Brian Warren, handled the technical editing.
The book is largely a culmination of the talks I’ve been giving around the world over the last year or so. In some ways, it’s a continuation of Bulletproof Web Design, in that it was convenient to be able to jump right into examples and the core of what I wanted to write about. There are a lot of CSS books out there, and the last thing I wanted to do was just write another general overview.
So this one gets specific rather quickly. And the timing seemed right. The browser landscape is changing rapidly. Browsers are implementing new and evolving standards faster. It’s an exciting time to be designing for the web. Firefox 3.5 has just been released, and with it came a goodie bag of CSS3 properties that can now be utilized between Mozilla and Webkit-based browsers (as well as Opera). I’m using the term “progressive enrichment” to describe advanced CSS and CSS3 properties that work in forward-thinking browsers today. And that’s a heavy focus of the book.
A single case study for the fictional “Tugboat Coffee Company” was used as a common thread throughout the entire book, where progressive enrichment, reevaluating past methods and best practices and flexible, bulletproof concepts are stressed. Part of being a craftsman of the web is paying attention to the details that matter most, and the book is an attempt to share a collection of those details using current methods.
In addition to the book, I also recorded a DVD. A video crew from Peachpit came and set up here at the BitCave in Salem, and the result is Handcrafted CSS: Bulletproof Essentials. It covers concepts from my previous book and the new one, while relating all of it to the Tugboat design. There was also a ukulele hanging around the office and I managed to put it to good use as a background score. The video acts as a unique bridge between the two books, and either comes bundled in a Video Edition of Handcrafted CSS or by itself.
More info can be found at the book + DVD’s companion website and Twitter account, where Ethan and I will be announcing another exciting aspect of this project in the next day or so. Stay tuned.
Back by popular demand, we’ve just printed a fresh batch of Charge tees, and they’re now once again available in all sizes. Just in time for Summer, the Charge tee is printed on heather gray “Tri-Blend” shirts by American Apparel, which is a soft, lightweight, super-comfortable shirt. We also think @wrycoder said it best when he declared:
Softest shirt ever. Like being hugged by kittens.
Couldn’t agree more. Also, check out the Charged Up pool at Flickr for photographs of fine folks wearing a fine garment.
Small Batch, Inc. are some super smart folks. But you already knew that. They’re the team that created Measure Map, which was later bought by Google. Earlier this week, they launched Wikirank, a tool for exploring and comparing what’s popular on Wikipedia. It’s pretty damn cool.
Jeff Veen explains why he digs Wikirank:
… it helps people find stories in the data. One of the great things about the web is how measuring tiny behaviors reveals patterns that tell stories. The data we get from Wikipedia is no different; as we started playing around with the numbers, we saw loads of interesting shapes emerge in the charts.
I mean, just do a comparison on the past and present lead singers of Van Halen, and you’ll see an accurate visualization. The possibilities are endless.
It was an honor and privilege to work on this project. Great, smart people + a compelling idea + awesome implementation = best client experience in quite some time. My little part was designing the logo and working with Small Batch on the visual design. Congrats to Jeff, Bryan, Greg and Ryan on turning an idea to completion in such a short period of time. And I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.
We’ve rolled out some changes over here at SimpleBits that have been chipped away at for months. Visually, it’s not a drastic difference, but lots of adjustments and polishing were done in other areas. Chunks of copy were chopped, multiple pages combined into one, things simplified. More care and attention was given to the internal layout of pages that aren’t weblog pages. Finally.
Also, the idea of _fluid_ grid layouts has intrigued me since I heard Ethan talk about them at a Markup & Style Society event we threw a year ago. The combination of a rigid design framework, with the fluidity that makes the web unique is a topic I hope will continue to gain some steam — thanks also in part to Ethan’s recent article over at A List Apart. So, replacing the previous elastic grid (based on ems), is a fluid one. More on that at a later date perhaps.
Meagan helped clean up the new Work section, which quite frankly was a bit of a mess, and she also skinned a new Work Requisition Form that the fine folks at Airbag Industries are letting us kick the tires on. You may remember Greg Storey introducing a new way of communicating with potential clients, and we’re exited to watch it grow over here.
All in all, it’s a continued evolution. That’s what the web in general is, isn’t it? But improvements are improvements, and I’m happy to have things a bit more organized than before.