Old Doge Eyes is Back – A post about Widgets

In the post about the new site design I mentioned that I wasn’t entirely happy with how the new theme handled widgets, IE not at all. I had a bit of time (to think it over…), and now I’m a little happier with how the site displays widgets and which widgets to display.

I knew that I wanted each widget to act as small post beneath the main posts, probably with three or four widgets in the space of the main post, four widgets left very little room for content though, so I settled on each widget being a third the width of a regular post. In the future, I’m looking at implementing some kind of Masonry tile design based on Post Formats for the main index page of the site, but that requires time and effort and actual skills, so it’s unlikely to ever happen.

One of the first issues I noticed was that even with the widgets being the same width, the elements were not the same height, which made everything look a bit shit and untidy. Google and jQuery to the rescue. Everyone’s favourite search engine found this code snippet for me, which I dropped into my main JS file, and then Gulped it into a minified, concatenated oblivion.

var bigbrother = -1;

$('.widget').each(function() {
  bigbrother = bigbrother > $('.widget').height() ? bigbrother : $('.widget').height();

$('.widget').each(function() {

This, quite unusually for the internet/Stack Overflow, worked first time, which I think speaks volumes about how good I am as a developer.

I also finally implemented the double lines on the widget titles that I said I was going to steal way back in my review of the Old Paper theme.

Once I’d got the widgets looking right, it was a case of getting the right content in each of the three boxes. For ages I’ve had newsletter signup form in the sidebar. However, in all the time this site has been live, only one person ever filled that in, and even then they never got round to accepting the double opt-in that MailChimp guilt trips you into doing. So I decided that was a waste of time. So much for professionalism, and conversions.

So I brought back the Doge, grabbing the tags from each post and displaying them in a way that was amusing in 2013 indipill.com. I still find it funny. I’m still sad about accidentally killing the Murray function on the site, but perhaps a GIF of a talking demonic skull has no place in web design in 2015.

Another leftover from 2013 is the Google+ authorship link, which every site had to have, otherwise you wouldn’t get your Gravatar G+ picture in the search results. Then Google realised that the pictures (and authorship) had no effect on click throughs. So they dumped it, without quite going the whole hog and dumping G+ in its entirety. Because I can’t think of anything better to put there at the minute, the social links are staying.

And then there’s Last.FM. My dream is that I’d have a Last.FM widget which showed the latest track(s) that I’d listened to, just in case anyone wanted to know exactly what the last thing I heard before leaving the house/going to bed was. It would also show the album art for that song, with a fallback just in case the artwork doesn’t exist. It should also fit the style of the rest of the site without me having to do too much CSS to trick it.

This doesn’t exist. So I’ve gone for the best of a bad bunch with Last.FM plugins while I try and get my head around the Last.FM API and write my own…

That’s about all I’ve got on Widgets. The next part of the theme development is handling archives and taxonomies in a way that isn’t shit. Which might be fun.