Lou Pickney's Online Commentary
July 1, 2005
It's funny how, so often, change is something born of accident. In the case of my latest tweaking of this website, that was the catalyst for the redesign of the title bar.
I had been trying to create a page talking about the PS2 Disc Read Error problem, but in the process I managed to delete my Index file. Brilliant move, I know. So I backtracked and actually used Google to help rebuild it, since the only part that was really missing was the middle content (thanks to the header/footer files, which are transparent to the reader as far as which part is which), and so most of what I needed was still here. And even if Google hadn't had what I needed for the middle portion, I simply could've pulled the links from my archive page.
But that had me tinkering with the page, and after my bro Matt was telling me how he was going to make his forthcoming MattPickney.com graphically better than mine... well, I couldn't just let him take that title without at least putting some effort into it. And considering that before all I had was a simple black banner with "LouPickney.com" written in there (simpler graphics to help with load times for people with slower internet connections), I figured it would be easy to change that. With cable modems and DSL becoming more and more prevalent (versus dial-up), I do see how some graphics can be helpful.
I decided to make my pages centered, versus left-aligned, which you may or may not have noticed. I then went with an 800 pixel width, versus the 728 pixel width that I've had since the inception of the site in August 1995, back on the old spruce.evansville.edu page (which no longer exists; not just my site on there, but that server at the school). Evansville apparently got rid of all of its tree-named servers (spruce, cedar, pine, etc.) Anyway, if by chance you happened upon the main page this afternoon, you probably saw some crazy things in progress, a little unintentional stunting as I played mix-and-match trying to make things work. Coding by hand, the old-fashioned way. But since the skeleton is in place, it was more a matter of modifying what was already there as far as table widths and other boring things that only webmaster type people care about.
The fun part was picking out what to use for the pictures at the top. The Katt/Lina pic on the far right from Splitsville was an easy choice; that was a fun night, and the pic made for an easy fit into a 60 pixel tall banner. The Ybor City sign I found from some website; ditto for Peyton Manning from his University of Tennessee days. The "Nobody Knows I'm A Hustler" image is from a t-shirt I found for sale online one time. The site that had it was ridiculous in how much they tried to make it where you couldn't download the picture of it, so naturally I took it as a challenge and captured the image. I don't like being told no on those sorts of things. The final pic (on the left) is from college of me with hair from 1997. So there you go.
After much effort, I finally got the 800 wide format to work. But I didn't like the way the commentaries looked in that width. They were too wide. This width is, in my opinion, optimal. But the 800 width made it stretch out too far, and it was a pain to read them as a result. I tried leaving blank space on the right side, but that looked amateurish. I also tried filling with black on the right, but that looked even worse.
I finally decided I had three choices: I could go back to a 728 width, I could go back through each and every commentary page I've written since I started it in April 2000 and retro-fit them all again (something I told myself I'd never do again unless I absolutely had to) and modify them to fit the way I wanted but match the look, or I could live with commentaries that stretched out too far.
The result? I went back to 728. Sometimes less is more. By shrinking the "LouPickney.com" font a few sizes, it fit just fine, I didn't have to cut any of the pics out, and everything fit the way I wanted. Even the main page, which was in a state of flux as I tried to decide how (or if) I wanted to redesign it, was able to return to its previous layout.
So the major July 1 redesign, started by happenstance and then scaled back, I think is what the site needed: a little touch-up, but nothing drastic. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." I did remove some of the Google AdSense ads that I think were doing more to clutter the site than to provide contextual information of a useful nature. To be sure, AdSense is still here and will remain an important element of the site, but I am aware of the concept of oversaturation.
But don't think that I've had some sort of epiphany relating to how I view my website (or websites in general): I still believe, first and foremost, that content is king. However, I do see how sprucing things up graphically can help things out aesthetically, and there's something to be said for that.