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Making Headway | Kestrel's Aerie

Making Headway | Kestrel's Aerie

Making Headway


I know most of you are reading this through a feed reader, and most of you doing so, are using Google Reader. However, take a moment to click over to the new (and, I think, improved) Kestrel’s Aerie. As I mentioned in an addendum to my previous post, I switched from Thesis to Headway as my theme provider for the site.


The reasons for the switch are given in that article, but I do want to note that yesterday, Chris Pearson, developer of Thesis, changed the Thesis license to a split license, along the lines of Headway’s. In Chris’s words, “the PHP is [licensed under] GPLv2, and the CSS, JS, and images are proprietary.”

I couldn’t be happier that this issue is behind us. There’s no questioning that Chris and his team have done a lot to improve upon the WordPress framework that Matt Mullenweg and his team have developed. I love a happy ending, and I hope we’ve seen one.

All that said, I had only a twinge of “buyer’s remorse” when I realized, had I waited a day or so, I could have kept on using Thesis without being concerned about licensing issues. Instead, I determined to focus on the present and the future, rather than the past.


Headway ThemeFor the better part of the past three days, then, I’ve been redesigning the site with Headway. I’m not sure the learning curve is any steeper with Headway than with Thesis, but it’s a decidedly different environment. At this point, I would be hard-pressed to say which is easier, or better. Both provide extreme flexibility in site design, and each time I tweak something, I learn something. I doubt I could code a “Hello, world” print statement on my own, but through copy/paste and (lots of) trial and error, I can generally accomplish what I want.

So far, all the comments I’ve received have been positive. I think a lot of that has to do with the much cleaner look—that is, the plain white background—of the post area. Before, I had a gradient background there, and coupled with a small font size, readability was hardly optimal. With Headway, I’ve incorporated a larger font size with the solid background.

As for the gradient, you can see it just about everywhere else on the site right now, thanks to this fantastic post on CSS3.1 Before, my gradient was a .png image that was set as a background graphic. It was unwieldy and also slowed page-loading as the image was redrawn over and over. (Oh, if you’re viewing the site in Internet Explorer, you only see solid backgrounds; sorry. Chrome, Firefox, and Safari users should see them just fine.)

For the most part, I think I’m done with the major renovation. I’m sure I’ll find a few things to continue tweaking, but I’m very happy with how the site looks now. However, if you have any questions about Headway (or Thesis, or WordPress), or suggestions on how to make the site look even better, hit the conversation button below!

  1. And yes, I want to find a place here for that very cool expanding button!


9 Responses to Making Headway
  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Steve Hall (Kestrel), Steve Hall (Kestrel). Steve Hall (Kestrel) said: Making Headway […]

  2. Softi
    July 24, 2010 | 05:02

    Looking good imo! :)

  3. Mazil
    July 25, 2010 | 05:55

    Hey, looks really nice! It feels very clean and fresh. I do feel the article area is nicer to read, though it’s hard to say without a direct comparison :)

    Hope the CSS isn’t giving you too many headaches. I spend the majority of the day at work with my head stuck in CSS, so feel free to shoot me any questions!

    I’m also a bit jealous, my blog desperately needs a refresh. And also some new content ;)

    • Kestrel
      July 25, 2010 | 09:36

      Thank, Mazil :) I think the gradient I had going through the content area before really didn’t help readability at all. And I took a suggestion from a friend yesterday, reversing the direction of the gradient here, to make the header banner stand out a bit more. So I think we’re home free.

      As for the CSS: Don’t tempt me. *grin* I can usually fake it with the CSS, but I have had to go to the Headway forums a couple times. Fortunately, there are some great folks there ready and eager to help out.

      It would be easy to go in and tweak the headway.css file, but since that can change with every update to the theme, I’d have to do it over and over and over. Instead, there’s a custom.css file to which I can add or change stuff. The difficulty is in figuring out the exact element name to call out, but I’m slowly figuring out how to determine that, too.

      And I know what you mean about needing new content. I hope to have a couple new and different things up this week!

      • Mazil
        July 25, 2010 | 17:35

        Hmm, the custom.css file sounds like the place to go! If you use Firefox, there’s this great extension called Firebug which can help you pick out elements on the page and see what CSS is applied to them (and even change styles on the fly).

        There’s also Firebug Lite which is for other browsers – not sure what the difference is!

        Good luck and happy tweaking! :D

        • Kestrel
          July 25, 2010 | 18:43

          I use Chrome, which has a built-in viewer that is very similar to Firefox—definitely a lifesaver! (and timesaver, too) :D

  4. Rachel (aka Elenaltarien)
    July 25, 2010 | 10:25

    I like the new look. Definitely a cleaner looking reading area.

    • Kestrel
      July 25, 2010 | 10:39

      That’s definitely the consensus. Thanks for the feedback!

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