I’ve Become Super Noob

I started writing as Super Noob on Lindsay’s blog, Web Design for Idiots. Tonight I wrote the following as an introduction to who I am and why I’m someone who might have a reason to be writing there.

I’m posting this from my very messy desk with the TV on to my left and my nearly cold coffee at my right hand, in danger of wrecking my faithful little scanner. I’m a real woman. I’m a real, live, 40+, divorced Canadian woman, a writing legend in my own mind.

In June of 1996 I began on the Internet. I was an IRC diva for quite a long time. It was a lot of fun and most of it I really should not write about here. That’s what personal blogs are all about. I wrote for a zine first, a small print publication called The Crying Clown. From there it was all online. At one point I was producing my own newsletter for writers, InkSplatters, sent out through what is now Yahoo Groups. I was a web writer for HerPlanet, BackWash, BellaOnline, Suite 101, WZ-ard.com and other sites, forums and newsletters some still living and some not. I still write for Creative Fat Grrl on LockerGnome, a babbly blog more than anything seriously functional. Writing for a network is a different educational experience than writing for yourself. Which is one reason I keep doing it.

I’ve had sites and then blogs of my own. I didn’t begin online in the great time of blogging, I was here before that. So my first sites were put together with just HTML code as I learned and goofed it up. I’ve used software and I’ve cut and pasted code and I’ve hand coded my own pages. I’m not an expert, time alone isn’t enough to make you an expert at web design or development. I have learned however and as I learn I see how much more there is to be explored and discovered. But, don’t look to me expecting I’m a know-it-all. If I ever say that you can be sure I’m just laughing at myself.

I love creative things. I’ve done so many interesting forms of art, just to try them out. I made ASCII art for a few years. I continue to take digital photos of abandoned places here in Ontario, starting in 2006 when I bought my first digi camera. I’m also teaching myself to draw cartoons, some people even like them! This week I re-learned the art of cutting out paper doll chains so I could make them into a graphic for a blog. I really think it’s important to keep the creativity and free writing in blogging. It would be a real shame if the personal journal and creative element of blogging were lost in the rush for SEO and money making.

Anyway, I’m here to help the less experienced blogger with my experiences. I’ve got a stack of great books about web design on my bookshelf and I will be using them (finally) for more than a place to hide my dust bunnies. I seem to collect books with great good intentions and then not get very far. You can also find me writing about web writing and posting writing ideas and prompts on my blog, Word Grrls.

ThatGrrl.ca

Completely off topic… did you know that a nail file works really well if you have an itchy spot on your back that you just can’t reach? I’ve been rubbing my back on my chair tonight wishing for something to work. Then I had the great idea for the nail file (not one of those treacherous metal ones, just some cardboard type) and that worked great!

Hand Drawn Web Design Resources

Hand Drawn Web Design – Making a list of sites I have found regarding hand drawn web site templates.

Flickr: Hand Written Blogs – Not just the template but the whole blog.

Tutorials:

We are Not Freelancers has a video tutorial: Technique for creating a hand drawn website.

Talk Mania created a hand drawn template and has a guide to what they did to get there.

Web Designer Wall also shows their process in making the current hand drawn template.

Go Media Zine shows how to turn a hand drawn sketch into a vector illustration.

Resources: (Most are geared to using PhotoShop).

Webitect has links to resources and a few tips for designing.

1st Web Designer has resources for using PhotoShop as well as fonts anyone can use.

My Ink Blog has examples of templates and resources for making your own.

Design M.ag has template examples and resources.

Design Reviver has doodling and other resources for making hand drawn templates.

Snap 2 Objects has sketches, doodles and other hand drawn elements.

Hongkiat has 40 hand drawn fonts.

Examples:

Smashing Magazine writes about the trend to hand drawn websites and shows their top picks.

Hongkiat has 50 hand drawn template designs picked out as favourites.

Outlaw Design Blog showcases 30+ hand drawn websites.

Blog Spoon Graphics has 50 Inspiring Illustrations in Web Design.

Create Who You Are Blog has a few more designs reviewed.

Serif Free Software

Free versions of Serif software, includes WebPlus and DrawPlus for creating sites and making your own graphics. I found this a few years ago and never did do much to try them out. Now they are updated and still have free versions, which was nice to find. Or, you can pay and get a few more features. Or, go to the main site and get the latest versions of the same software. Pretty reasonable, even for the newest versions, when compares to DreamWeaver which is up to $500 now versus the $100 it was when I first got ahold of what is now an older version, before Adobe added it’s name to the whole thing.

Vector Drawing Tips Link

Vector Drawing Tips – I need to start figuring out how to use the graphic software I have had for years. Kind of typical of me that I am looking at the latest version of Paint Shop Pro, now part of Corel instead of Jasc, yet I have not done more than use it for a screen capture a couple of times. I really need to get to work on it rather than just upgrade the software. Why do I so often do this sort of thing? I have a stack of books about CSS and HTML and web design in general yet I have only read one of them and not even totally finished that one.

Get the Blog Clutter Bug

I think the biggest upcoming things for blogs is going to be about clutter and making them look cleaner overall. So many blogs are stuffed full of ads, traffic and seo rank related things that it’s hard to find anything in the sidebar that could actually be interesting.

I found a few links today about fixing blog clutter.

Lorelle on Word Press has written about Cleaning Up and Decluttering.

Skelliewag has 50 Tips to Unclutter your Blog and A Guide to Creating a Minimalist Website

ProBlogger writes about Minimalist Blogging too.

Supper Blogging Tips has written Unclutter your Sidebar.

Blogging Tips has Remove the Clutter from your Blog.

Wisdump has the Resurrection of the Sidebar.

Pro Blog Design has Sidebar Redesign.

There are so many endless, bottomless posts about how to add more to your blog, your sidebar and your search rank. Why is there so very little good information to be found about making a site reduce it’s clutter and become readable again?

To take it to the barebones of the clutter situation it’s about taking what you need and keeping it and then tossing everything else, no excuses and no saving stuff you only think would be nice to keep or might be good later on or gives you an ego boost but does nothing for your blog itself or those coming to read your blog.

Decluttering does not have to be heartless. If you really can’t delete it all consider making a footer with three columns. Just like sweeping the dirt under the rug, keeping a junk drawer in the kitchen or a closet stuffed full of stuff you don’t have time to deal with.

There are also ways to roll up the clutter so it is not visible in full but available at the touch of a mouse. There are two types of roll away clutter busters and I’m not really sure what they official standard names are for them. Lets call one the scrolling window and the other the scrolling title.

Another plan to move clutter off your front page is to give it a page of it’s own and just link back to it. Or, categories set up like an index with the same link back plan.