Monday, June 28, 2010

designs on mexico

Still building.

Still decorating.

For the past year, I had intended to change the look of my blog.  It looked the same as the day I started it in December 2007.  I just never got around to doing anything about it.

That changed on Saturday.  Due to a series of circumstances, my old template disappeared as thoroughly as Amelia Earhart.



There was nothing to do but sit down and start building from scratch.  So, build I did.

My trip to the Portland Zoo was canceled earlier in the day.  That gave me time to start thinking about what I wanted the page to look like.

Under normal circumstances, I would have spent a week establishing design principles and testing out options.  I did not have that luxury.

But I have learned several principles from reading other blogs.

The first is to keep the design simple.  Clutter takes away from the posted material.  The form should reinforce the message -- not be the message.

The second is a corollary of the first.  Pick a design that reflects the subject matter of the blog -- and stick with it.

The third is a personal preference.  Due to the brightness of my monitor, my eyes fatigue when reading text on white backgrounds.  The easiest blogs for me to read are blogs with a colored background with high contrast text.

Easy principles to state.  Not so easy to execute.

Picking a simple template was easy.  Blogger offers a "Simple" template by name.  After tinkering with it, I decided it would meet the first principle.  Onc e all te textured colors were stripped out.

Then, I needed a design.  Because the blog is about my adventures of living in Mexico (despite my current temporary relocation), I decided to use the Mexican national colors: red, white, and green. 

The background color is the spine of any blog.  I knew it should not be white (see ramblings above).  That left me with green and red as candidates.  After trying several options, I eliminated primary red and green.  Too plain.  Too stark.  And, after a few more auditions, settled on a pale brick red.

That left green.  I tried using it as post titles.  But it looked less like Mexico and more like Kris Kringle.

The solution was easy.  I could use my beloved limes in the header and get as much green as a tree hugger could crave.

That left only one task -- a new title.

When I started blogging, I chose "same life -- new location" after reading a series of comments from people who believed that a move to Mexico would solve all of their social and financial problems.

I simply did not believe it.  That approach makes us a victim of our circumstances.  The experiences that make up our lives do not disappear when we cross borders.  People who have trouble fitting into society in their home country will most likely experience the same thing in Mexico.  Often in spades.

Or, so I believed when I crafted the title.

Even though I was moving to a new location, I was taking my life (who I was) with me.  As it turned out, I think that is exactly what did happen.

But the title now needs a make-over.  And I need to give it some thought.  When I come up with something, I may even revise the entire template.

Until then, here it is.  New page.  Same locution.


- Mexican Trailrunner said...

Very nice! I like it a lot.
But then, I'd read your musings if they were on paper towels. . .

Felipe said...

It appears you´ve made the type a little smaller than a day or so back. That´s better. Before it looked a bit like a grade-school primer.

Type size is fine now. Red´s questionable, but it will do. Is this shade of red a little tamer than what it was at the get-go? Seems so. I think there may be a law about foreigners using our Mexican colors on a blog, but I may be wrong about that.

You don´t believe that moving to Mexico will solve one´s financial and social problems? It did mine.

Good idea to change the blog name. Think up something snappy.

Perhaps The Madero Tales.

Jonna said...

I like it, you obviously have a good eye. Still, I think you'd be happier with WordPress since you like to design. I'm much happier since I moved from Blogger even though I never went back and did all those fancy things I intended to do. Maybe today... sure.

Tancho said...

How can the title be Same life, new location?
Wouldn't it be a different life?
You aren't schlepping down all your baggage from Salem?

Dudes that have tried that, get disappointed and cranky real fast.
You do not seem to have the propensity for either disappointment or crankiness, at least you show a positive side to your readers......

Nice changes, I'm considering having my blog read aloud by James Earl Jones.....

Babs said...

I like the changes - I wouldn't change the name either.....the title doesn't have to be "literal".

el jubilado said...

This guy makes a lot of nice Blogger templates free and pay

I've been using his free ones and suggested he put up a sign for donations for free ones and he did.

I think you can design just as much with Blogger as Wordpress nowdays

Irene said...

The colors are nice; it is definitely easier to read. I like the name "Same Life - New Location".

Anonymous said...

Your blog is looking good...and Mexican. Somehow, the limones green doesn't quite go with that particular shade of red.


Kaitlyn Cotton said...

Wow, what a lovely change. I found your previous choice of the colour pink for your hyperlinks a bit questionable. This new design however, is much more aesthetically pleasing. Well done.

The family and I will be headed up towards you on the eighth and ninth to visit the Oregon State campus for orientation. Could we possibly slumber at your abode on Wednesday night?

Gloria said...

I definitely love the colors. The title, I think, should stay the same. It's you, the title is you. Very nice. Proceed. :)

Steve Cotton said...

Mexican Trailrunner --Thanks. Of course, I write all of my drafts on paper towels before you see them.

Felipe -- You are a success story in many ways. For most of us, we are what we were when we came across the border. Maybe a bit more. Maybe a bit less.

Jonna -- I am still looking at Wordpress. Maybe we can discuss that at the bloggers' conference in November.

Tancho -- If you get James Earl Jones, I will simply need to raise the stakes -- Salma Hayek reading my posts would be just about right.

Babs -- Thanks for the vote of confidence. Perhaps, "Stevesblog." But that would be a bit derivative, wouldn't it?

el jubilado -- Let's talk when I return.

Irene -- I agree with the readability. And I like my old title. But it may be time for something new.

Armand -- I am looking at some chilies to replace the limes. But we shall see.

Steve Cotton said...

Kaitlyn -- Glad you like it. Of course, you and the family are welcome to be part of my household -- any time. I look forward to seeing all of you.

Gloria -- Thanks for the support. I always enjoy seeing your comments.

Anonymous said...

Same "locution?" You challenge my use of English. But that one is very good.


Steve Cotton said...

Horst -- I almost missed this. You slipped in while I was busy elsewhere. But I thank you -- none the same.

Leslie Limon said...

Looks great! But please, don't change the title. I think "Same Life -- New Location" is perfect!

Steve Cotton said...

Leslie -- So far I have not had much luck in coming up with anything new.