Trying out a new look…

Posted: 24th April 2008 by ElShaddai Edwards in Uncategorized

I still have writer’s block (aka blog apathy) so, spurred on somewhat by some client web development work on the side that I’ve been working on, I’ve been tweaking other aspects of my blog:

  • I moved the theme back from “Digg 3 Column” to “K2-lite”, mostly because for some inexplicable reason, I lost all of my custom CSS code for the Digg layout. I still had an archive of the K2 customization I’d done before, so it was relatively trivial to restore the blog to the previous look.
  • I moved the blogroll to its own page (“Links“) rather than keep it as a side-column widget. It’s another click to get to, but I can organize and format it however I want (blogroll formatting is one area where Blogger and Typepad seem to have an advantage over WordPress). I find myself increasingly moving toward widget minimalism (I’ve even decreased the number of “top posts” and “recent comments” displayed), though I don’t know what that means. Let me know if there’s something missing that you’d really like to see.
  • I played around with the CSS to combine the “category”, “archive” and “search” widgets into one visual block, aka “find previous posts”.

However, most noticeably, I’ve changed up the header image (again). I still like the red trombone player and he may come back, but it’s always good to try out a new look every once in a while. I had a couple of thoughts in choosing this image: [1] it plays off my new tagline, which I’ll get to below; [2] there’s an aspect of “He is Sufficient” being played out in the image of finding new life in an otherwise hostile environment, of God caring for a seedling emerging from dry, rocky soil, which [3] is a personal touch, as I’ve often felt like the seed that was sown on rocky soil and developed roots, but withered under the heat of the sun.

** Update – I’ve changed back to the original header image, but am keeping (for now) the new tagline. For those curious what the short-lived change looked like (and still want to provide feedback), I’ve included a screen shot of the “new look”. **

A new tagline: “worshiping in a wilderness of words”. This plays off of one of my favorite passages in the Revised English Bible:

“When I was starting for Macedonia, I urged you to stay on at Ephesus. You were to instruct certain people to give up teaching erroneous doctrines and devoting themselves to interminable myths and genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation, and do not further God’s plan for us, which works through faith. This instruction has love as its goal, the love which springs from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a genuine faith. Through lack of these some people have gone astray into a wilderness of words. They set out to be teachers of the law, although they do not understand either the words they use or the subjects about which they are so dogmatic.” (1 Timothy 1:3-7, REB)

It’s very easy to get caught up in writing words and not thinking about meaning or the impact of what you write (a daunting thought!). Paul wrote about the “wilderness of words” as being a place where those without “a pure heart, a good conscience, and a genuine faith” find themselves when they tried to teach others from the scripture. I sometimes feel that way about blogging; I find myself convicted by the Spirit daily with respect to my heart and faith, and I question why/if I should be writing (electronic) words of posterity.

So does that mean this blog is really just “a wilderness of words” where I unleash my inner “bone-breaking Bible-basher and apocalyptic apologist“? I hope not.

  1. David Ker says:

    I love all of this. k-2 of course you know I have a fondness for that theme. The new tagline is smart and evocative. The image is terrific but a bit unclear. I like the sepia but I wonder if the image could be sharper. Or perhaps make the sprout green? Three thumbs up!

  2. Thanks, David. Eventually I’m going to switch to Sandbox-10 and build it all from scratch, but for now k2 is one of the best themes available (IMO).

    I agree about the image softness, though part of the problem is working from a smaller original file. I’m trying to find a larger version, but will also see if Photoshop (at work) can resample up any better than my copy of Paint Shop Pro here at home. I’ve never been a huge fan of spot colorization, but I’ll give it a go and see what it looks like.

  3. David Ker says:

    And it’s worth mentioning that the original trombone image was really distinctive. This one with earth tones and a rather sparse look might not be as memorable for people.

  4. Yeah, there’s that too… it’s easy to forget that everyone else doesn’t see it as often as I do. I’ll keep playing with it and see what I like, but I appreciate the feedback.

  5. Robert says:

    Miss the old look, but I also like the new look. I need to find some time to learn CSS, mine is so standard, but to busy to devote any time on this.

    I really was blessed by those two verses, and your thoughts. I find myself thinking often why I blog, and really tried to avoid conflicts. I have been caught up, on one or two occasion myself where I did not feel very good about what I posted.

    I am going to use those verse next week at my theology class as an introduction.

  6. Nathan Stitt says:

    My only complaint is the recent comments. I prefer ten over five, especially if you aren’t posting as frequently, since I don’t check as often if the RSS isn’t getting an update. Still, I enjoy the minimalist approach and this look is nice enough. What is it about WordPress blogroll that you don’t like?

  7. Fair enough, Nathan. I’ve bumped the number of “recent comments” up to 10. I understand that reasoning.

    The problem with the WordPress blogroll is that, as far as I know, the only way to organize groups of links is alphabetically. So if you want one group of links to appear before/after another in a certain order, you have to choose link category names that will sort correctly. Both Blogger and TypePad allow you to create multiple link lists and position them however you want – I wish WordPress had that capability too.

  8. Nathan Stitt says:

    Ah that makes sense. I just dump names and URLs into it and don’t worry about how it’s organized. I would be curious to know how many people actually use other people’s blogrolls. I can’t tell if people are clicking on someone’s name in a comment or on a blogroll link when they leave my blog.

  9. Nathan Stitt says:

    I meant to thank you for upping it to 10 comments. I tried five on my blog but if a topic got hot i couldn’t tell who else had commented without going back to my dashboard. It’s probably the one feature I wish other bloggers used more regularly.

  10. Kevin Sam says:

    The new flat color is nice, not a flashy bright red but I will miss it though.

    Nathan you mentioned using other people`s blog roll. I usually use it and admit it to using it.

  11. Thanks for the feedback, everyone. I’ve changed back to the old look, with a few tweaks. The common comment seems to be that the red header was really distinctive and memorable; the browns worked visually, but probably wasn’t as strong a “brand”.

  12. Nathan Stitt says:

    Sweet! I L-O-V-E the new red background. Blue seems to be a bit over-used and this dark shade is fabulous. I see you changed the subtitle back, eh?

  13. Greg says:

    Glad you’re keeping the t-bone pic! It works well with the tagline, although maybe some might take “worship” too narrowly…

  14. Kevin Sam says:

    This red color, although it looks a shade off from the original red, has become almost like your trademark color.

  15. @Kevin: Thanks, I tweaked the color – it should be more consistent with the “foreground” red in the image. I had sampled from the background with the slightly darker color before.

    @Greg: Yes, the opportunity is there for people to misunderstand “the joy of worship” as music only. Of course, it most certainly is not. I’ like Harold Best’s concept of “continuous worship” – that really emphasizes how we are worshiping 24/7, it’s just a matter of who/what we’re worshiping.

    @Nathan: Yes, without the “wilderness” imagery, the language doesn’t make much sense. If I’d thought harder about it in the beginning, I might have named the blog “A Wilderness of Words”, but I’m too far invested in “He is Sufficient” now.

    @Robert: I’ll be very curious to hear how your theology class responded to that wording. Certainly the other translations I’ve consulted haven’t been quite so memorable.

    Thanks to everyone for the comments and feedback – I really do appreciate it!

  16. Nick Norelli says:

    ElShaddai: You could always compose your blogroll just the way you want it in the page/post editor, copy the HTML, and then paste it into a text widget. That should solve the problem fairly easily. If you look at the sidebar on my blog, that’s what I’ve done for the “Statement of Faith,” “2008 TBS,” and “Multi-part Book Reviews.”

  17. Thanks for the idea, Nick. You’re right, of course, in that a HTML widget can be organized any way you want it to be – I was just expressing the hope that the default functionality of WordPress’s widget could be improved.

  18. David Ker says:

    I am so glad to see that eye-popping cheek-puffing picture back.

    …but I liked the new byline.

  19. […] ElShaddai Edwards dumped that eye-popping trombone picture on his blog and replaced it with a dramatic picture of…a sprout. We all liked it, kinda. But in the end he brought back that bold red image and even added a touch of red here and there. It’s nice. Go check it out: He is sufficient. […]

  20. Hmmm… maybe I should run them together: “A life in search of the joy of worship in a wilderness of words”, or maybe “Searching for the joy of worship in a wilderness of words”. That last one has potential…

  21. Nathan Stitt says:

    Are you set on the ‘searching’ idea? How about simply, “Worshiping in a wilderness of words.” Or as we say in these parts, “Wallerin’ en a wildernass o’ werds.”

  22. There’s really two threads of thought going on: the original idea was about life’s journey seeking the joy of worshiping God. Joy being the happiness we can only get from Him, not ourselves. The new idea was capturing a little more of my natural separation from God (a wilderness of words), but worshiping Him in all things.

    Along with the banner image, the “joy of worship” is tied perhaps too concretely (as Greg noted) to my playing with our church’s worship band, when worship is really a 24/7 thing, not just an hour on Sundays. “A wilderness of words” fits better with the written aspect of the blog…

    I do like the suggestion (and of course I’m a sucker for alliteration), so I’ll give it a go… see above.

  23. P.S. “Wallerin'”? I grew up with people who consistently pronounced “worship” as “wharship”, but I’ve never heard “wallerin'” before…

  24. Nathan Stitt says:

    wallerin’ = when one wallows

    I think it is an accurate description of how some appear when worshiping. Mostly just playing with words though. 8)

  25. More random alliterative thoughts… if I wanted to pull Paul into the equation, I’d make the tagline read:

    “a wretch worshiping in a wilderness of words”

  26. Nathan Stitt says:

    I like the new tag line 8)