So while I was watching a stream today and following the discussion on the Classic beta I remembered something: Blizzard used to provide fansite kits to the community in case you wanted to make a fansite for World of Warcraft. This lead to me wondering if they still do that and unfortunately I could find no sign of these kits on the official website, however I did find a couple of the old kits—namely the original one I had played around with and one for Wrath of the Lich King—from a third party fansite amusingly enough.
Now I have been considering changing the design of the blog for a while and although I do like more simple and elegant designs there was something charming about the idea of using one of these old fansite kits as the basis of that redesign especially since the blog has mostly World of Warcraft content so the theme still feels appropriate.
I decided to base the redesign on the Wrath of the Lich King fansite kit, since that one had more of a template for a website—the original one was extremely bare bones, only a header image with some links in the left column and content in the right column. With the Wrath kit however, it ended up being more of a case of bringing the code into the modern era where responsive design is a given as well as some other slight modifications to the details.
For example, I decided to keep the fonts I already had on the site since they do give a slightly cleaner look to the whole thing as well as not using the original header image—it was weirdly cropped and relied on some borders in the styling to complete the look. Instead I launched the game and took an updated screenshot of the map and used that instead. The new image is also bigger which makes it look better when the site scales up. Another small change was actually separating the two side iron borders so that they are two separate images, since they would have otherwise been at a fixed width from each other. I also cleaned up some small noise left at the outer edges, probably as a result from some background image that had been captured with the bars. I also slightly modified the gradient on the post title in post listings, it was an image but is now made through CSS. This allows me to use a bigger font on the post titles if I want to since it means that the gradient will scale with the size instead of being a fixed size. I did end up scaling the post titles in listings up slightly, since the original size was actually smaller than what I normally use for the size of the content. It would have felt a bit strange to have the titles be smaller than the content even if they are well separated through the red background.
The article pages stayed mostly the same from a content perspective, of course the scaffolding changed but the content font and such is the same as earlier. It still feels significantly different of course and I am rather happy with how it turned out.
The final change was getting rid of the footer since with the content being so clearly delineated in comparison to the old design where the header and footer clearly marked the boundaries of the content. This made the footer feel less necessary than before. And honestly, another reason was that I wasn’t quite sure how I would separate the footer from the content since while there was a horizontal border in the fansite kit similar to the vertical ones on the sides, it was sligthly bulkier and it did not feel like it properly fit in there since there were no joining pieces for the different borders. Maybe it would have looked fine but I personally was not happy with the result—though I am still considering, having nothing at the end of posts feels a bit empty.
All in all I am very happy with how the site came out and finally getting to do something a bit different. The earlier clean look was very nice but also in some way a bit boring and while I know it is possible to get it to feel a bit more interesting I do not know how to do that personally—and since this blog is a one woman show, me not knowing how to improve something kind of prevents that from being an option. Still, it was interesting to see with how little effort is was possible to convert an admittedly simple outdated template into something that reasonably well follows modern web standards and practices.
I might get back to tinkering with it tomorrow or at some other point, for now I just wanted to get it all out there. Now for some well deserved rest after a hard day’s work on this as well as some nice Uu’nat progress—should probably write a new post on that if I remember, we’ve seen phase three several times and have had some quite good tries as well though nothing close to a kill.