content drives design or design drives content?

Who’s Zoomin Who?

i’ve probably used the phrase “content drives design” at least a thousand times or so when discussing “doing websites” for people. i typically throw it out there as a means of discerning how serious people are about creating a site and as an attempt to not do a site for that person. sites are interesting ideas but when it comes down to generating content, people typically kinda, well, yeah…

i should know, i’ve had this site since ’01 and a domain in my name since ’99 and i’ve generated enough content to fill a fly’s navel. although being a fairly prolific writer over certain points in my life, those spurts of brilliance production typically amounted to “responding to lots of posts on other people’s messageboards.”

i’ve used a couple of different tools over the years to capture my ongoing commentary. the first was a custom CF script that i wrote for myself. i’ve also used movable type and now use WordPress. i first used MT because i wanted to learn something different than CF. MT was cool, but, after stepping away from updating i “switched” to WordPress because of the one-click install offered by my hosting company. because my host has eliminated basically all of my effort to setup a mysql database, upgrade my files and all the other garbage that can become a hassle, i’ve been able to spend more time installing plugins, hacking themes, and adding functionality via custom fields and conditional tags.

over the course of time i’ve noticed something that i never thought of before — the addition of certain plugins offered me the ability to write in new ways. this completely goes against my basic beliefs that writing determines tools. the footnotes plugin stands out as one of those things that took something from my natural writing style (the usage of double parentheses) and transformed it into proper clickable footnotes1. so, after i turned footnotes on, i needed to style those footnotes, which got me digging around in the css for my template.

my post about fantastical boobage led me to creating a new class that would alert my readers that the links may lead them to a place that their employer wouldn’t be in full support2 of. i haven’t put too much effort into styling nsfw thumbnails, but, i guess if you can’t tell already by the thumbnail, then, a special shade of red border isn’t going to be much of a deterrent, anyway. having a class let me feel more comfortable inserting a link to an image or two into a post, even if it didn’t _exactly_ fit the mood of the current discussion, sometimes made you go WTF? & of course, ran the risk of getting the reader to click on something they shouldn’t.

Design Drives Content

recently, i incorporated a section to show some recommended links from around the webz. i did this as a means of testing whether or not it was possible to style an rss feed coming from another location. with the help of simplepie, i was able to setup a pretty nice “read” section for my frontpage. i decided to launch it, because even though i am “doing” stuff for my site, some people that might come by for some of this bfnh branded entertainment might also want to check out some bfnh approved reading whilst in the midst of a lull from hand crafted bfnh texticular products ™.

anyway, this is all to say, i will be adding a “Not really here”3 section where i link you to places around the nets where i have left comments. currently, i am using a tag that i have configured inside of google reader (which takes care of comments left on subscribed sites) and i will be combining that w/some agressive social bookmarking (maybe, i don’t know, i don’t post to forums that often) from a site to be named later. although this won’t be more “original” content created specifically for this site, it will provide more content, and such will necessitate a new design.

Content Over Design

so, which is the chicken and which is the egg?
and, of course, which one comes first?
it’s whatever.
the goal is what’s most important.

the goal is to give you more bfnh. and more bfnh is what you will have — whether through posts, notes or comments. like, this discussion of manly drinks & desserts or this recent piece of irresistible about chunking the deuce in plubilc.

notes:
  1. see, the thing is, i have used double parentheses as a means of diversionary asides for some time now. they aren’t necessary to the current line of thought, but sometimes extend from it. their really weren’t any hard & fast rules to what goes in a single or double parantheses in my writing until i installed the footnote plugin and realized that some of these pre-plugin thoughts that would have got a double were necessary for the following sentence — thus, making them a single parentheses or “inline” aside []
  2. get it? boobs – support? you don’t get it, do you? []
  3. if you couldn’t tell, i have Not Really Come Up w/a name for the new section []

Comments (3)

  1. rashad wrote::

    You just pretty much critiqued yourself in an impressive and efficient manner. Very impressive. And I had no business clicking on those NSFW links, and I did it anyway.. trying to slip one pass the goalie.

    Thursday, November 15, 2007 at 7:58 #
  2. bfnh wrote::

    rashad, did you actually get through to either of the sites? both of those places dump tons of photos pretty regularly.

    i’ve been hagglin’ w/this (design/content) for some time now. but, as i recently started to add some pieces, i started to sway. hwvr, everytime i added a new plugin to wordpress, i begin writing differently. hopefully, i’ll get the other stuff online and switch to the new design soon. but, knowing me, it’ll take a minute (read: month) or two.

    Thursday, November 15, 2007 at 12:38 #
  3. rashad wrote::

    I couldn’t get through to either one here at work, but I will certainly try when I get home tonight

    Friday, November 16, 2007 at 8:17 #