It’s been three years since the last pile.org redesign (which happened to be a relaunch), and it was starting to look a little faded around the edges, so I figured it’s time to do it again.
Among other things, the old design relied on a pair of scripts to generate heading images. It never felt fast enough to me. The correct thing to do would have been to debug the script and figure out why my optimization attempts failed, but then I ran into the second nagging sense of dissatisfaction: I got tired of Benguiat Gothic.
This time, I’m trying another typography gimmick: font embedding. Old browsers require the web designer to guess what fonts are most likely to be on their readers’ computers. Modern browsers (Safari 3.1 and the as-of-this-writing-upcoming Firefox 3.1 and Opera 10) allow the designer to reference a font file; the reader’s browser will download it, and render the page in that font.
There’s a pretty obvious problem with that: Most font’s licenses don’t allow this use. The less-obvious problem is that most fonts that do allow this are, shall we say, not suitable for reading large blocks of text. I was lucky enough to find a font, Vollkorn (German for “whole grain”), that is permissively licensed and not ugly. (Those with older browsers will probably see this in Cambria, a close match, or Georgia, not at all similar but quite legible.)
The results can be seen at left. I took the opportunity to change other things, as well (larger text, standard blue and purple links, and data feeds from other places I write). There are a few rough edges to be smoothed out, but I hope to deal with those over the next few days.
Thanks to Jon, an actual designer, for suggestions to make this look less amateurish.