Well, here’s another look and feel to add to the Brianna.org tally (last count – over 400 screen designs at least 2/3 completed stored in various crevices on my harddrive since 1999). I’ll admit, this one was tough to launch – the previous two themes were quickie deals that needed to be live for various offline reasons – for example, the design I just replaced was made to match my business cards for the Tour des Artistes last June in Long Beach. With 2006 being an eventful year, that 20 minute layout ended up staying up for ten months. I would call that both a benefit and detriment of blog-oriented content management systems like WordPress – I can snag a free template and just pop a custom header into it faster than you can say “banana”.
This one, however, I created to aggregate some of the content I post elsewhere – mostly Flickr photos and Twitter jabberings to start with, deeper integration with Bloglines and del.icio.us as I flesh out the pages and polish things up. About five minutes before I went live with this, I browsed over to Alex’s site and read almost in parallel her thoughts about her recent re-designing and suffered a moment of self-contempt.
See, I have definitely moved more towards making things live without polishing or perfecting, and orienting this playground more toward the writing I do here and the photos I take rather than the web design itself – and that’s great, it keeps things moving, but it also makes me uneasy. Things move so fast that I find myself compromising more and more – the photos on my Flickr site aren’t my best photos, they’re just the photos I’m working on at the moment, usually in their original state (something in me that is very stubborn about posting results of post-processing work I’ve done in Photoshop). Every post to brianna.org since I installed WordPress in 2005 has been a first draft, usually only edited to correct the most egregious grammar errors or bad links. Rarely anymore do I get the satisfaction of feeling as if I have crafted something well, that I have done my best work here.
On the flipside, this site is the most active it has ever been – and I have a new confidence in my own voice that I never had before, simply from posting frequently and not winding myself up about the quality or importance of what I am doing here – trying to stick to the definition of “playground” at its simplest. You don’t strut around the playground in your Sunday school clothes showing off the latest Shakespeare play you’ve memorized. You get your hands dirty, you fall down and skin your knee, you learn how to do a cherry drop off the highest bar after many painful attempts.
Still, after reading Alex’s post and then noticing that Lance has re-designed and unified the brand of his three websites, I hesitated before launching this new ‘face because I knew it wasn’t my best. It didn’t explore anything, it didn’t push any boundaries of the current blog aesthetic, it didn’t teach me anything about Prototype or any of the tools I’m using over at Utopian.net. And even though it collects all the disparate content I’m pushing out into the web on a daily basis, it does it in the most straightforward, bland way possible (did you SEE the feed reader on Lance’s site? Check that shit out!).
But it does meet the most basic requirement of getting all this information together in one place, and it has a transparent flower overlay in the top left hand corner. It’s satisfying like junk food – and I am okay with it. The best part is, it serves as a reminder that next time I want to do better.