I’ve been wanting to redesign my sites for a long time, but the idea of tinkering with CSS does not appeal to me. I’m competent enough with front-end code, but the whole cross-browser compatibility thing is such a headache. I already have enough to do debugging server-side code. By the time I get around to working on the client-side, I want as little resistance as possible.

Given my whole move to frameworks, I decided to try out a CSS framework, namely Blueprint. It was a paradigm shift for which I wasn’t quite ready. I made the mistake of trying to use Blueprint to recreate an existing design. The final product looked … odd. Rather, my eyes were so accustomed to how it has looked that I didn’t see how else it could look.

I abandoned the idea and moved onto other projects.

When my sister asked me to build a web site for the daycare her son attends, I decided to use Blueprint rather than figure out all the minute details of the design myself. I whipped up something fairly decent in a couple of hours, and I was impressed — Blueprint, like any good framework, sped up development time.

So I gave Blueprint another shot, this time in creating entirely new looks for my sites. I’ve spent the past two weeks moving everything to Blueprint. A few sites — including this one — did not undergo any redesign, but Blueprint does a nice job of cleaning up the layout. I did, however, make some very major changes to the Musicwhore.org family of sites.

Perhaps the most drastic redesign is the personal domain. Gone is the drab gray box, replaced with an actual color palette and a three-column layout. Hell, I even included a picture of myself.

(Speaking of color palettes, the Color Schemer desktop application rocks my world. When I’m less broke, I’m buying a license. In a pinch, I can always the Color Schemer Online.)

I’ve even gone so far as to incorporate white backgrounds into the sites. I dislike white backgrounds. They hurt my eyes. The majority of my sites — including this one — use dark backgrounds, but I think I use white backgrounds in the new designs sparingly enough to mitigate any discomfort.

I have to say, working with the grid layout has always been the one thing I missed about print page design. Back in my student newspaper editor days, I would be calculating points and picas, worrying about gutters and white space and text flow. The grid offered by Blueprint lets me space elements in a way that’s consistent. I don’t think I achieved that with my non-grid layouts.

Now I just have to use more semantic HTML, and I think my skill set will finally be up to date.