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REBOOT LAUNCH: Business Logs

(If you’re reading this from the comfort of your RSS reader of choice, please take a moment to stop by the actual site and check out the new design.)

Business Logs Redesign

The redesign of Business Logs has been a long time coming. The previous design was an iteration from the original, where I flip-flopped the columns and added a nice, big footer to add emphasis to our services.

This new design doesn’t change things drastically, but is rather a design progression. Instead of having a page for our services and a page for our portfolio, they’re now on one big page that I dig a lot. Instead of having confusing weblog archives, they’re now brought together in a new Archives page that hasn’t been uploaded yet, but will be soon. Also, no more puny 9rules logo, nope, I’ve switched to a bright orange badge to show my support.

The About Us page has been updated to finally add Colin to the team, and instead of individual images of us I thought making a collage of some fun times we’ve all had together was more appropriate. I’ve added an Awards & Recognition page to the bottom as well.

Some things aren’t totally together, like the category and main archives are noticeably unfinished right now, but that’ll be changed soon.

The Technical Details

As keen blog surfers will undoubtedly already realize, Business Logs is still running on Movable Type which is my weblog engine of choice. I normally don’t cross into the murky waters of the MT vs. WordPress debate because 9rules members will probably kick my ass, but suffice it to say that I’m more familiar and comfortable with Movable Type so I’ll still be a proud user advocate.

One of the hiccups I encountered with this redesign is that when I logged into my MT install and clicked on “Templates” (something I haven’t done in awhile!) I got an error and couldn’t access any of my templates for editing. After looking into every perl file in my MT install, I finally found on Google a person saying that if you name your templates starting with an underscore (_) character, Movable Type might not let you access them afterwards. I named them with underscores before so certain templates would rise to the top in the list, but now it was screwing me over. Instead of diving into the database and changing them manually, I made a new weblog in my MT install called Springtime and imported all the entries from the Business Logs weblog over there. The nice thing about starting fresh with a “beta” weblog (full of data) is that I can load up individual entry archive pages and mess with them without overwriting the live ones. Movable Type doesn’t let you have staging individual entry archive templates, so this was nice to play with.

I’m messing around with more interesting and useful archive concepts, and one of the fruits of my labor is in the sidebar underneath the 9rules badge. Basically it’s a weblog category browser, sorted by how many entries each category has, and then each category link is enlarged proportionally to how many entries are in that category. Okay, it’s a tag cloud, but it’s a tag cloud done in Movable Type which is not that easy. Well, it’s about to become easy because I’m going to give you the code to make it happen :)

Movable Type Tag Cloud
The key to this operation is Brad Chaote’s amazing MTSQL plugin for Movable Type which lets you run custom SQL queries from within a normal Movable Type template tag. If you don’t want to get your hands dirty with PHP, I highly recommend using his plugin.

I installed the plugin, and then got right into my sidebar template with these lines of code:

<MTSQLCategories query="SELECT category_id, COUNT(*) AS number FROM mt_category,mt_placement, mt_entry WHERE (category_blog_id=5) and (placement_entry_id=entry_id) and (entry_status=2) and (placement_category_id=category_id) GROUP BY category_label ORDER BY number DESC"> [do what you want with the categories in here] </MTSQLCategories>

MTSQLCategories is a new template tag that is made possible via your new plugin, and what it does is emulate the normal MTCategories tag, but with a custom SQL query tacked on. This query is kinda complex, but in essence it loads up all the categories from my weblog (happens to be the 5th in my install), then counts all the entries associated with that category (entry_status of 2 means that they’re published and live), then sorts the category query via how many entries each one has associated with it. Okay, now that we’ve got that out of the way, here’s how you use it.

Inside of the two MTSQLCategories tags you stick the guts of the operation. Basically you are checking to see what the MTCategoryCount of each MTCategory is (aka, how many entries are in that category) and then doing interesting things based on that number. Here’s the code I used:

<li <?php if( <$MTCategoryCount$> < 10 ) { ?>class="low"<?php } else if( <$MTCategoryCount$> < 20 ) { ?>class="medium"<?php } else if( <$MTCategoryCount$> < 30 ) { ?>class="high"<?php } else if( <$MTCategoryCount$> < 100 ) { ?>class="huge"<?php } ?<<>a href="<$MTCategoryArchiveLink$>"><$MTCategoryLabel$></a></li>

This mash of HTML and PHP outputs one list-item, where the class is determined by how many entries that category has associated with it. Categories that are full of entries are deemed “huge” or “high”, and categories with fewer entries in them are given a class of “medium” or “low”. Now I’ll be the first person to admit that this static number comparison (if( [COUNT] < 10 )...) is pretty lame and isn’t scalable. What I really wanted to do is get a percentage calculated for each category, so instead of having a hard number comparison, I could say, “for categories that have between 12-15% of the total number of entries in them, give them class X” but sadly I don’t know the MT template tag for “number of total entries” otherwise I would have done it. Can anybody help me out?

And Finally

Got two other sites to finish up for the reboot, so if you’ll excuse me :)

About Mike Rundle

Comments

  1. Mark says:

    Hey Mike –

    I like the new design, especially the bolder palette. It’s starting to look more like an agency website, and less like a blog, even though it strikes a nice balance between the two, capturing the essence of your company — congratulations.

    Regarding the 9rules logo and box area…
    I dig the fact that you want to call attention to the network / community, it being your baby and all that. But, I think it’s taking the attention away from this site. With that strong orange, my eye only wants to see that — not anything else — including the businesslogs info box above it. Probably not the best plan, if you plan on pimping businesslogs with this site as well.

    My suggestion, if you dont mind, is why not promote BL within that 9rules area? I mean, BL’s design and BL’s “designer of the year” went far in 9rules success so far. Take advantage of that by turning that area into an advertisment not only for 9r, but also for BL. Maybe link to a case study (does anyone actually do those anymore?) or something instead of driving people off this site on the very first page.

    Just a thought. Overall it looks great design wise.

  2. Mike Rundle says:

    Thanks a lot Mark, I really appreciate it.

    I fully hear you about the loudness of the 9rules box, and if I were to modify anything on the site first I’d tone that area down a bit. In fact, the sidebar was giving me the most trouble in this redesign simply because I didn’t know what to put there, or how to prioritize its information, etc. I’m positive that the sidebar will be evolving more as the days go by just because, in my mind and yours, it seems to be the odd-man-out in an otherwise decent design.

    Thanks man.

  3. Bruno says:

    Very nice redesign, simple and clean… I see you stuck to the light colors. Congrats

  4. Su says:

    CloudNine (There is no MT 3.3[uh, yet]. Don’t ask.)

    Tags.App (Commercial, but reasonable. Anything Tim does is worth it.)

    Also: MTBlogEntryCount

    You might be able to mash something a bit simpler together using Arithmetic and Compare, but I can’t think it through at the moment. Get to work. SQL has no place in templates.

    Almost never, anyway.

  5. Zach Hale says:

    Looks really great, but your RSS feed isn’t being detected.

    [Thanks man, fixing it now! -Mike]

  6. Darren says:

    Hey nice work! Love it.

    My only feedback – when I first saw it my initial reaction was ‘lots of text’.

    ie – the header image, menu, tag cloud, even the footer etc….

    Having said that I do like it a lot. Well done.

  7. Geof Harries says:

    Mike – I use Feedlounge and for the afternoon today, I got a whole whack of BusinessLogs RSS feeds from something called Springtime. I don’t know if it was some weird Feedlounge bug, which rarely happens, or something from your end. Just a heads up.

    The new design looks fantastic. I agree with Mark; you’re really starting to look like an agency than a blog-centric design. I feel this is a solid step in the right direction for your business, so congrats and keep up the fantastic work.

  8. Hi Mike – I think the new design looks great and accomplishes every thing you were trying to go. I agree that the blazing 9rules logo looks excellent. One thing you may want to think about is a way to show more of you work in a branded gallery of some sort. Good stuff.

  9. Mike,

    The new design is rockin. Despite the fact that the entire web has started to rip you off, you’ve managed to keep your style and that “Mike Rundle look”. Everything complements and works well together.

    Also, what font are you using for the “Post Comment” and “Let’s get in touch” buttons? I think I’ve seen it before on Bryan Veloso’s site and I really like it.

    Congrats on the successful reboot.

  10. Dan Bailey says:

    Really good job Mike. I agree with what Mark said – it’s a nice balance between a blog and an agency site.

  11. Mike Rundle says:

    Hey Rob, thanks! Haha I love the part about people ripping me off :)

    The typeface on the little buttons is Myriad Pro, which used to be the typeface used for the Business Logs logo. The new logo (well, logo “paragraph” up top) is now set in a font called Corisande that I found over at T.26. It’s really nice and pretty cheap if you only buy a face or two.

  12. Spencer Fry says:

    You continue to amaze. Great work!

  13. Mike Rundle says:

    Thanks Spencer, I really appreciate it man!

  14. Kelsey Ruger says:

    Great work. Looks like your design skills are only exceeded by your dancing skills.

  15. Nice work – some of the links aren’t working though (the Blog Archives main nav link gives a 404, and the tag cloud links go to a default MT template?)

  16. yop says:

    Very fond of this design style

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