Help Me To Samsung “Six Colors”

Why does the official name of this website still say “Beta?”

Jeez. Well, look at it!

Yeah, see, for years I’ve been trying to make this site look nice and clean and modern. But in golf terms, I have no short game. I can move the ball from the tee to just short of the green with accuracy and precision. Would it be tooting my own horn to say that I can even do that thing where you open up your stance a little and put a little spin on the ball so that my drive follows the curve of the fairway? Perhaps. The greater risk would be assuming that any of my readers would have any idea what the hell I was talking about but frankly, I stopped worrying about that sort of thing in 1997.

What is it that I lack as a web developer? Well, it’s a certain zen. I have a solid basic sense of design when I’m not designing websites. I’ve also written a lot of code both for play and for pay in my day and some of it’s pretty good. What I assuredly do not have is the ability to demonstrate both of those competencies at the same time.

 

 

Yeah, this scene pretty much sums it up. I need two hands to hold the logic of a piece of software and another two hands to hold the visual design of something I’m creating. If I put one of these things down to pick up the other, it all goes blrrppthh across the table, like Jello that’s only halfway-set.

It’s an interesting insight into mind-mapping, isn’t it? My creative mechanism that thinks “Wouldn’t this CSS element look nice if it were centered?” is located in the part of the brain that I need to solve the problem “Why the HOLY F*** isn’t this stylesheet targeting the correct container?!?”

Have I completely given up?

No, but ask me again in another couple of months, maybe.

Oh, who am I kidding? I’ll keep working on it. My personal blog here has always been a bit of a mutt and at this point, its slappy appearance is kind of a signature feature.

However!

I’m considering starting up a brand new site just for my tech stuff, including my Chicago Sun-Times columns. Like all of the best web startups, the primary inspiration for this new venture is the shocking revelation that a certain URL, perfect for a tech blog, was available for purchase. It seems like a damned shame that you can’t type [REDACTED] into a browser and then start reading about tech.

One should definitely take pride in building something with your own two hands (or one, or none, please select as appropriate). One should also definitely acknowledge that there are people in the world who can do a far better job of it in one hour than you can do in a whole week, and that many of these people do things for money.

So. It’s time for me to find out just how much money that is.

The most efficient way to describe my design mandate: I want to rip off my good friend Jason Snell’s design for “Six Colors.” Just Samsung the whole damn thing.

What if he tries to sue me for damages? Hahahaha. See this half-finished bottle of Diet Dr. Pepper on the end table? I don’t own it. For legal purposes, I’m leasing this beverage on a non-ressertive quarterly basis from an untitled holding company, which is itself a subsidiary of an LLC retitled from an offshore trust. Then the next step from that one gets kind of shady. Jason’s a close pal and a smart man and I’m sure he knows that unwinding the legal barbed wire back to the source of my actual assets would require the sort of machinery that Bletchley Park threw together to crack ENIGMA.

Okay, maybe I don’t literally mean I want to rip off “Six Colors.” But I’ll tell you people what I told Jason when he launched the site last year: I admire how he managed to make the site simple without resorting to the sort of bleak, Soviet starkness that makes other blogs look like a turreted no-fun zone.

  • This is a “longish post”-powered blog. So I want everything to be easy to read. Visitors land on a page that shows off the latest stuff, as opposed to a magazine cover sort of thing.
  • I want a dominant column of content (full blog posts like this one, quick links, some posts that are just embedded media like Tweets, videos, or single photos that span the whole column).
  • I have lots of content on the site. If readers want to spend a lot of time reading stuff, I want them to stick around and be able to find stuff to read. But I don’t want one of those sketchy designs where the user is forced to click around to find things, as a way of tricking them into following more links.
  • If I decide to take on sponsors, or to sell digital content, I want the site to support that kind of stuff elegantly. This site isn’t a moneymaking venture but wouldn’t it be lovely to have it start making money for me?
  • I want this all to run off of WordPress (because it’s what I’m familiar with) but I’ll consider an alternative (like Squarespace).
  • I reckon that an existing theme with some custom CSS will do the trick. Budget-wise, that’s probably what I can afford, as opposed to “build me a TheVerge.com”
  •  It should be dead-simple for me to put things on the site. I want to write something and tag/categorize it and click “Publish.” Done.
  • No ad trackers/beacons, apart perhaps for stuff on the “mostly harmless” end of the scale that allows me to figure out who’s reading what stuff and when.

If you’re someone who can pull this off for me, or if you’re thinking “Hell, Andy…here’s a canned WordPress theme that’s pretty much 90% there, right out of the box”…leave me a comment below. I’ve enabled comments for this post. Or contact me privately at (my last name) at Gmail.com.

12 thoughts on “Help Me To Samsung “Six Colors””

  1. Squarespce. For what you are describing there really is no question in my mind. I listed my wife’s website, but I’ve set up lawyers, doctors, dentists, etc on Squarespace. It’s never failed to work for the client and my good tech skills have enough runway and my meager design skills are amplified just enough with their staring-point templates. Plus, there is no technical maintenance.

    BTW, our honeymoon in Boston was terrific. Loved the Boston Public Library, amazing.

  2. I speak on behalf of Lovably Grey when I say that we can help out, if you were willing to go to Squarespace. It wouldn’t be difficult at all.

    We can make it look way better than Six Colors.

  3. Honestly the 2014 Word Press theme is pretty clean and responsive out of the box. There are plug ins you can use that will change the colors to your liking.

  4. I actually prefer your CWOB layout to Six Colors, but that’s just me.

    I’ve been debating Squarespace for a year now for my personal sites, they appear to offer great style and features; but I fear what would happen if they closed down in “internet forever” time (i.e.: 2-5 years). My current self-hosted WordPress site is backed up and and movable to any hosting – if Squarespace closed down, I’d be left with nothing, I think.

  5. So basically what you need is someone to act as additional connective tissue in your brain ;) Psh, doesn’t sound too difficult.

    As a long-time reader / listener, it would be an honor to help you out! Wrangling WordPress and Squarespace themes into custom designs is a large part of what we do everyday.

    And of course we can discuss remuneration, but I’ll tell you right now that half of a Dr. Pepper sounds pretttttty tempting.

  6. Design aside, I think this website should take on the job of Andy Central. You should somehow arrange to have notices of all the articles, posts, and books you’ve written and all the appearances that you’ve made in one place, and this is the place. It’s impossible to find stuff you’ve done. The Sun Times search is terrible. You show up in places like Boing Boing. You mention on podcasts that you’re going to be speaking somewhere. How are we supposed to find that? Did you ever publish a Moto 360 review? Where? A Kindle Voyage review? Is all that in your Twitter feed? What if I don’t want to read all your tweets, but just know about new articles and posts? It’s just too much work.

    I’d suggest that you have weekly posts that link to stuff you’ve or plan to do done off-blog. That way just reading this blog will be enough to keep up. Alternately, you could have a reverse chronological order list page with all your stuff on it, linked.

  7. It sounds like you’re leaving the Chicago Sun-Times.

    Sad.

    Those guys have been going downhill for the past six or seven years, waves of layoffs and buyouts, a bankrupcty filing, shrinking pages, photographers replaced by iPhones.

  8. i agree with Mike. We need a one stop shop for all our long form Andy needs. Not only does the sun times search fail, the RSS feed seems to have stopped.

  9. The six colors theme is very similar to the WordPress “Twenty Twelve” theme (as noted by another commenter). I just moved my blog back to wordpress.com recently because I got fed up with maintaining the installation – my own blog uses the new(ish) Plane theme – you might want to check it out.

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