The New Initial Charge

As you may have noticed, things look a little different around here. Over the past several weeks I’ve modified my existing WordPress theme to be better suited for the current web environment. The old design has served me well for almost seven years without any major revisions, but it was time to finally go responsive.

The move to responsive design is the most obvious change — a fluid-layout that expands and contracts when resizing your browser window and looks good on mobile devices as well as desktop computers. But much of the rest of the site has been restyled as well and I wanted to highlight one specific aspect of the new design — the typeface.

A couple of weeks ago I linked to a little web utility that let you browse iOS’ built-in fonts. The tool helped me figure out what fonts would be safe for me to use in the new design— OS X has Font Book, but I couldn’t find a comparable application in the App Store. Between iOS Font List and Font Book I narrowed my options down to Helvetica Neue, Gill Sans, Futura, Avenir, and Proxima Nova — which would require the use of Typekit, something I prefer to avoid.

After some helpful advice from a few friends online — thanks, MattKeenan, and Matt for all the help and words of encouragement — and plenty of testing, I eventually settled on Avenir for body text with Georgia remaining as the title font. In order to get better acquainted with my choices, I’ve switched Reeder and Tweetbot’s display font from San Francisco to Avenir and Instapaper’s from Elena to Georgia. I’ve been very happy with them so far and I can say that Avenir has quickly become my absolute favorite typeface.

I’m sure there’ll be some tweaks to my font stack in the future, though, specifically for Android and Windows users. As it stands right now, most of them are going to see the site in Arial, but that will probably change once I get some more time to test on other platforms. With the site now live, that will be much easier.

The Changelog

For those curious, here’s a full list of changes I’ve made to the site from the previous design:

  • Responsive design with a maximum width of 700px to retain legibility on larger displays.
  • Removed sidebar and went single column.
  • Navigation moved to below header and removed link to Linked List archive, now only accessible through the Feature archive and at the bottom of homepage.
  • Moved contact information to the About page in order to clean up navigation.
  • Restyled list of recent posts on 404 page to better match the Archive page.
  • Body type now set in Avenir.
  • Increased font sizes across the board.
  • Refined font weight in titles.
  • Adjusted font colors on all text.
  • Arrows added to link post titles to better indicate that they point to an external page.
  • Switched to simpler arrows on Next and Previous links at the bottom of search results and Linked List archive pages.
  • Resized search bar.
  • Added search bar to Archive page.
  • Added search bar to the top of search results page which now displays the current search term.
  • Fixed title links on search result pages which now point to the proper page on Initial Charge.

Moving Forward

In addition to the aforementioned tweaks to the site’s font stack there’s plenty of other changes I have in store for the future. The most important of which being a move away from deprecated functions in WordPress. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve used the same theme for Initial Charge and previous iterations of the site for nearly seven years. There’s still quite a bit of cruft that remains from years ago. Everything works for now, but I will soon start moving to WordPress functions that will be around for the long-haul and slowly eliminate those that have been deprecated.

That of course, won’t result in any visible change for readers, but it will help prevent the site from breaking with future WordPress updates. As for user-facing features, I’d like to add page numbers to the top of search results and Linked List archive pages, implement Twitter cards for Feature articles, add a Safari Pinned Tab icon, and fix an odd bug that might result in a narrow navigation bar on some pages. All of those will come in due time, though.

For now, I’m excited about starting off the new year with a major redesign and being able to get back to writing at more consistent times after the holidays are over. This past year has been incredible for the site and I’ve seen nothing but steady growth since I recommitted myself to publishing Every Single Day earlier this year. Hopefully next year will continue on that trend and bring even more great things along with it.