Archive for ‘simplebits’ category

Evolution

One of the things I’ve tried to maintain with the branding around here is a building on top of what currently exists. Rather than completely toss out the visuals of designs and previous logos, I like to keep hints to the past. Part of that helps familiarity, but it also maintains a path of evolution rather than revolution.

evolution

Last week I rolled out an updated SimpleBits mark and simplified layout. I started tinkering a few months ago over on Dribbble and after some great feedback, settled on hex shape borrowed from the inner cube of the old mark, which was carried over from the original pixel art logo way back when. The new mark should work far better at smaller sizes and applications (which was the reason for the tweaking) and seemed fitting to bring back the original orange from the first (extremely dated) design from years ago (11px Verdana still looks good, no?).

Along with the new logo I made some adjustments to the template here as well. Most of those changes centered on a new typeface: FF Milo Web Pro which is versitle in various sizes, looks great in all caps and can be served up via Typekit (you need to purchase the font from FontFont first, which then unlocks it for use with Typekit).

Here’s to personal sites being a perpetual sandbox.

WoodPress

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).

New Charge Tee, New Shop

Charge TeeWe’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.

Web Standards Solutions, Special Edition

It’s been a long five years since it was orginally published, but last month month a new Web Standards Solutions, Special Edition was released by Friends of ED.
book coverLate last year, I gave the manuscript a little freshening up, mostly reviewing things in the crop of browsers that have been released since the initial version. I’ll stress that this was not a large overhaul of the book (hence Special Edition rather than Second Edition), so if you’ve already read the original, or own it, you’re better off spending your dime on another book.
But while it wasn’t a giant update, it was nice to give it some extra attention, and pass it through through tech editing, copy editing, compositing and proofreading cycles once again. In the end, I’m really happy it just made the book that much more solid for folks that haven’t read it—and hopefully still a good introduction for those getting started with semantic markup and CSS.
In other book news, I’ve been toiling away on something brand new, and look forward to sharing much more about that very soon.

Charge Tee Restocked

Charge TeeBack 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.

Shoot

The Bitcave was temporarily transformed into a video studio this week, while shooting a DVD for New Riders. I’ll have much more info on the video and other fun stuff related to it, soon.

video shoot

After seeing all the work that goes into setting up a simple shoot like this (lighting, sound, rigging, data transfers) I have newfound respect to those that produce motion stuff for a living. There were parts of the taping where I felt comfortable (when presenting against familiar material) and other times where it was downright grueling (talking directly to the camera for 30 takes in a row).

Major props to those that can do this kind of thing on a regular basis, and make it look effortless.

New Work: Wikirank

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.

Subtle and Not-So-Subtle Changes

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.

Upcoming Speaking Events

We’re at Day Two, and there’s already quite a bit on the calendar for 2009. I’m honored and thrilled to be speaking at the following events this year, microformatted for your convenience:

There’ll be more info forthcoming on the workshop in London next Fall, which will hopefully stem off of a new project that’ll be underway a few weeks from now.

I’m also excited to mention that Meagan will be speaking at Future of Web Design London in April. More about that over at Meagan’s blog.

Happy New Year, fine people.