Behind The Scenes: Coding April Fools 2015

Follow along with a screencast where Matthew Wrather, Overthinking It’s Editor In Chief and Senior Front End Software Engineer develops our parody of Vox for April Fools Day 2015.

For April Fools Day, 2015 we published a parody of Vox on the homepage of Overthinking It. It was an all-nighter for me, because true to form I didn’t start working on it until fairly late the night before. I’ve been a procrastinator since school, and the child is the father of the man.

I had the idea to turn on the webcam and record myself doing some of the work and talking about it. I stopped after an hour—explaining your work as you go really slows you down, and it was another four hours until I was done—but not before the skeleton of the design was on the page.

In this screencast, you can follow along as I set up the WordPress theme, and (sort of) use tools like Bower, SASS, and Compass to implement a design on OTI. This is probably only interesting to web developers.

Why on earth would I do something like this? Well, with the upcoming changes to Google’s algorithm which will punish non-mobile-friendly sites like the 2012 redesign of Overthinking It, my arm might be sufficiently twisted to actually deliver the long-overdue redesign of Overthinking It that addresses a couple of pain points in the user experience and makes the site not a shameful, horrid mess on smaller screens like phones and tablets.

I had the idea that I might make the whole redesign process into a screencast series, available to interested viewers as a monthly subscription. I talk more on the site about working as an actor than I do about my day job, but I pay the bills as a technology consultant and software engineer focusing on custom development for open-source CMSs and front-end engineering. I’ve been involved as lead or senior developer on a number of high profile redesign projects, and I have a pretty deep knowledge in process, tooling, and best practices for modern front-end development.

If you’d like to know about developing a custom WordPress theme using modern techniques—virtual machines with Vagrant, a front-end build process powered by Grunt to automatically lint, test, and process front-end assets, dependency management with Bower or Composer, custom jQuery plugin development, JavaScript best practices, performance auditing, semantic HTML, performant CSS, SEO, micro-formats—if these are skills you use in your work or your hobbies and this sort of thing could help you level up—let me know. I’ll probably get started in a week or two, so leave a comment below or mention me on Twitter and I’ll get a subscription page going.

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