I have recently discovered that the color scheme and overall “look and feel” of an user interface, including web sites, can do a lot with my mood. Two days ago, someone on freenode.net's social channel (#defocus) linked to her blog, which has a black background — that's not bad or unusual, but I noticed that the dark scheme affected my mood making me feel slightly upset for a few minutes. I have no idea if this is just another quirk in my brain's functionality, or normal.
Nevertheless, it does sound like something I could use to my advantage, and to please my somewhat loyal reader (hi Espreon!).
Codename “Dorset2” has been a work in progress since last November. I had experimented with round shapes, box shadows and gradients, using CSS 2.1 and background image tricks, but I didn't get very far due to Dorset's inflexibility and design flaws at the PHP level; basically, I'd have had to edit every single page to adapt them to the new scheme, and that'd be boring and tedious. However, a few days ago, “Poison Ivy” was completed, enabling me to share the basic and simple functional code with three websites, or document sets, so to speak:
- The Wesnoth-UMC-Dev website, (now codename “Kalari”);
- This website (codename “Dorset”); and
- Dorset2, not yet online.
Ivy's design allows me to simply “flip the switch” to convert every web page in my laptop's test Apache instance to use the new scheme, thanks to a extremely primitive, yet effective template and configuration system. A couple of lines of code:
define('DORSET2_ENABLED', TRUE); define('SKEL_BASE_PATH', DORSET2_ENABLED ? '/dorset2' : '/dorset');
DORSET2_ENABLED, I can test my code with the old and new templates and stylesheets as necessary, without editing any of the actual pages!
I deployed “Poison Ivy” on the online site last night, so this is already theoretically possible in here... except that the Dorset2 files are not finished or online yet. I did resume my work on it some days ago after finishing Kalari, though.
If a dark scheme can have negative effects on my psyche, what could bright (but not too bright), soft colors and shapes do for me? Basically, Dorset2 aims for a relatively simplistic look, with soft shapes and colors using gradients and round corners for some elements. The color scheme is also slightly brighter than Dorset for some elements; but the shapes are what matters here. A box with round corners and no solid border makes the contents look soft to me; compare current Dorset which uses (way too many) rectangular boxes with solid and dark borders everywhere, inside and outside the main body.
Here's a (rather big) screenshot of Dorset2. Apologies for the admittedly awful rendering of Verdana Bold; that must be freetype's fault.
- Dorset2 (PNG screenshot)
Since it's a work in progress, I have not gotten around to tweaking the CSS to make it work as best as it's possible with Internet Explorer. It doesn't look too bad at first glance, but it gets worse at the bottom (not pictured) thanks a gradient background trick that makes some text disappear at random in IE 6 SP 1 — and for whatever reason, this doesn't affect IE 5.5 or IE 6 SP 2 and later. I figured that I'll make my work easier for now if I write rules to disable certain decoration elements with these broken browsers.
Hopefully this gets finished soon.