Victor sent me James' modifications to the CSS for the redesign of the Asilomar Institute for Information Architecture. A few CSS modifications and one minor tweak to the site templates and the IA Institute was launched.
First off, I have to say that I really like James' design. The pages look so much cleaner and easier to read. Secondly, I have to say that the CSS cutover was remarkably uneventful. Pretty cool considering I really haven't touch the site for the last couple of years.
I think it's been good practice for me to constantly redesign and skin my own blog because that has helped me to predict the steps for globally handling CSS design changes on a site. For the most part, the iainstitute switch was a matter of changing a CSS file or two and uploading a new logo. I was afraid of the redesign because the CSS for Erin's old design was very rigid and used a lot of absolute positioning for the major blocks. But as it turned out, making the positioning modifications was quite easy.
The key thing that made the cutover so effortless (and this has been the case with all of the urlgreyhot skins and my work on InfoView at Lucent) is paying attention to the structure of the markup and organizing the HTML so that discrete blocks are identifiable. That means consistent use of CSS IDs for the major blocks and classes for the non-unique elements. I guess it also helped that the site wrapper is templated with PHP, but I didn't really have to touch the template.
One thing that has always helped me in strategizing and planning the markup and naming CSS elements has been to wireframe the page. Believe it or not, I started doing it as a site developer (markup monkey) not as an IA. When I started doing HTML pages with tables, I always wireframed the boxes and named and gave width values to them because that helped me to structure the table. Boy, those were the days. I remain the "go to guy" at work because I've become so adept at debugging HTML tables. That experience has made it easy to strategize a CSS layout today. And the easy cutover of the iainstitute site is sort of a testament to that fact. CSS really rocks.