I have a goal for April: update Nuketown 30 times in 30 days, with at least three updates a week that are blog posts and four that are microcontent.
What I'd really like is to do a blog post, review, or column every day of the month, but there's no way that's happening. My wife is coaching softball, I'm coaching baseball, and I'm ramping up for a major redesign at work. Oh, and I'm the executor for my grandfather's estate.
Nuketown's redesign launched in November 2012. It improved a lot, but there have been quite af few bugs that have cropped up since then. The redesign also caused some long-standing standing content (like the "Links" section) to disappear while I fought with how to handle it in the new design. In March I decided to sit down and knock out some of the most annoying issues ... starting with the erratic header bar.
One of my goals with the Nuketown redesign was to aggressively pursue a social media strategy, rather then letting it simply flop around like a dying fish.
It's alive! Nuketown 7 is now in production. It's not quite finished yet -- there are a couple of bugs here and there that need to be squashed -- but the site has been upgraded to Drupal 7 and it's running its spiffy new theme. The social media buttons are active and -- amazingly -- working and we can now post microcontent updates directly from the site to Twitter.
The Nuketown7 redesign is finally done. Or rather, it's finally done enough to launch. Over the next two weeks Nuketown will be on hiatus as I upgrade the site to Drupal 7 and implement the new theme. During the upgrade you can check out The Atomic Age for status updates. That's my ancient Blogger site, and I'm dusting it off to support the downtime.
It's the little things that kill you. Most of the broad strokes of the Nuketown Redesign are done: I have template for pages, nodes, microcontent, and blocks, and the site renders under the new theme without any major errors. Since last month my work has focused on building out the nooks and cranies of the theme. It's stuff like block headers, the "read more" links, and sidebar bulleted lists.
In short, the little stuff ... and it's time consuming. Each component takes about two hours to knock out (though in the case of captions for images that's more like 8 hours ... and I'm still not done) as I tweak css and tweak template files. It is satisfying, in that each small piece that I complete brings its own sense of accomplishment but man, there are a lot of pieces.
I was distracted from my theming adventures by needing to re-jigger how Nuketown 7 handles Twitter updates but that landed in a good place.
Nuketown's redesign project has slowly crept forward for the last year, but it saw a nice surge in progress this summer. First off, I have a solid Drupal 7 foundation for the site, with all of my social media, audio and visual, and content tools chosen and functional. I've also learned a heck of a lot about drush -- Drupal's command line tool -- and that's helped considerably with quickly iterating through build outs.
Nuketown now has a Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/nuketownsf. The goal of this page is two-fold: promote Nuketown, and figure out how to use Facebook pages. As I discussed previously, although I've been using social media for years and have 975 followers on my NukeHavoc account, Nuketown was sadly unrepresented.
This created problems with my day job as the goal becomes marketing the college via social media, rather than networking as an individual. I don't have a lot of experience with tracking social media analytics or setting up a write-once, publish-multiple times mechanic. Getting this setup -- first one Twitter, now on Facebook -- is an essential part of the redesign.
It's amazing what a little free time can do. Back in Autumn 2011 I worked hard to come up with wireframes, design comps, and an HTML build out of the new Nuketown. It was built on HTML5 and CSS3 and it was all going swimmingly ... until I looked at it in Internet Explorer 9.
The entire design fell apart. IE9, which I thought had better standards support than its predecessors, simply didn't understand HTML5 elements like "nav" or "figure". It refused to style them, and without the formatting, the design collapsed. About the same time work got nuts, and most of my free time was devoured by work projects. I probably could have pressed ahead with Nuketown, but truth be told I just didn't have the energy to fight the good fight.
Flashforward a few months. My big projects are complete, and I finally found some time to figure out what the hell was going so wrong with IE9. An hour of searching and experimentation revealed the answer: IE9 mode.
You see, Internet Explorer has a long history of "modes" -- ways of operating that supported (or broke) certain standards. It was quirky to say the least, and I'd forgotten about it. By default, Internet Explorer 9 operates in compatibility mode, which apparently means it tries to display everything as a sucky old browser would, while choking on the latest HTML5 standards.
It's been mighty quiet around here at Nuketown, partly because I've been super busy at work, but mostly because I've been slowly working on the redesign.
My current task is converting the design comps into an HTML/CSS compliant layout. After that, I'll turn those pages into a functional Drupal 7 theme. The challenge has been that going with what I know, I decided to do the entire site in HTML5 and CSS3 ... which means I'm spending a lot of time learning exactly how much I don't know.
It's not that HTML5 and CSS3 are earth-shatteringly different -- a lot of the key concepts (at least with a simple web page) are the same. The challenge comes with HTML5's new semantic markup. These are tags like "header", "footer", "article", "section" and "aside" which are designed to give meaning to your markup.
The idea is that instead of just having a whole punch of div tags with IDs like "header" and "footer", you use actual tags that let your web browser understand that this content is different. This in turn can be helpful for search engines, which know which areas of the site are content rich, as well as for accessibility, as accessible browsers are able to recognize headers, navigation, etc. and present them accordingly.