Thursday, March 24, 2011

Plus Ca Change

I am absurdly, childishly pleased with the redesign of the conniptions.org website that I did last night.

Certainly there are several improvements yet to be made - the rounded corners on the box in the middle need sharpening up, the banner image across the top is much wider than it needs to be on most pages and is shifted slightly to the right on the Posterous blog page for some reason, I have yet to add a commenting facility to the cartoons and the lovely bandcamp widget with the new album in it has a tendency to crash if you reload it too many times to soon, such as by reading through the cartoons.

On the other hand, the process of replacing the previous look and feel, which was based on artwork from the Live At Monkey Chews release from 2008, with something based instead on the new Sweet Sister Starlight release, turned out not to be the world of pain I had feared. Surprisingly few files had to be edited; mostly it was a question of deleting things that were now out of date.

Using a large top banner with an image map for navigation meant that large amounts of cruft and wrongness could be removed from the rest of the design - basic page to page navigation no longer needed to take up space elsewhere and important things like links to Twitter and Facebook could be placed discreetly yet visibly at the top of every page using icons from a free icon set (I got mine from here but the internet is full of them right now). It also meant that integration with parts of the site hosted elsewhere - on services such as Bandcamp (the music page) and Posterous (the blog) - was much much simpler than I'd thought it would be.

And I have a box with rounded corners! Welcome to 2003 (1998?), Wayne - nice to have you, since you missed it the first time. (Nested divs. Huh. Still sure there must be a better way.)

Inspiration, as ever these days, came largely from Steve Lawson, who has been using the top banner image map thing to integrate bits of web presence across multiple services since just about forever; the clarity and brevity of the icon thing came more from Laura Kidd - see She Makes War - but I am seeing customised social media icons all over the place at the moment. It is clear why - anyone who already knows what, for example, the exciting new Facebook-killing social media site Plonkr actually is will recognise the logo; mentioning the site by name isn't going to help and takes up far more space.

I deliberately chose not to use the icons for Myspace and Last.fm, as while I still have pages there I hardly use them any more and am suspicious that hardly anyone else does either. Do you? I could well be wrong.

Also, while I am banging on about how terribly clever I think I am, it is highly likely that I have screwed something up somewhere that I don't know about yet, so if anything seems borked on the site beyond things I have already mentioned, please do let me know about it so I can get it fixed.

In other news, the new album Sweet Sister Starlight is now finally available online to stream or download, and I am pathetically and profusely grateful to those of you who have already downloaded it, streamed it and/or clicked the 'like' button.

I'm equally grateful to Tom Robinson of BBC 6 Music who played Mistress Song on BBC Introducing on Monday and to Nick Tann, who played Sweet Sister Starlight on his Is This Thing On podcast the other week. Nick is also a very fine singer-songwriter whose latest project - well worth checking out - involves actually making a proper record out of vinyl. Not a bad idea that.

Now that my album is done, I'm back gigging again - I had a great time playing at Phibbers in Islington last Monday night - thanks to everyone who came down to that one - and there's a bunch of gigs coming up in Croydon, New Cross and Brick Lane to which I am also looking forward. Plus the Ashley Wood Festival in Tisbury, Wiltshire, in July.

I say 'done' of course, but I haven't had the actual CDs made up yet - that's going to happen over the next few weeks in preparation for a 'CD launch' towards the end of May - if you're really keen you can go to the Music page and pre-order one. That's because I'm also absurdly, childishly pleased with this album - so much so that I am releasing it twice, once online, and then again, some months later, on CD.

I hope that isn't an insanely wrong thing to do.

Posted via email from I Am Taking My Ball And I Am Going Home

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