Site Redesign and Updates
Over the past week or so, you may have noticed some marketable changes and improvements across this site. Considering that well over a year has past since I last gave any love to my little corner of the web, I feel that there would be few better ways to kick-start my writing again than to look at it from a new angle. So, here we are with a refreshed look and a number of new things. With that, I think an organic start to the rejuvenation of any site is to discuss changes made and reasons surrounding them. Enough with the long introduction, let’s do it.
Naturally, I’m going to begin with the reason for such a sudden change of heart. If you were a visitor here prior to the reboot, the misfortune of seeing the off the shelf design I was using. That very situation came as a consequence of the fact that, months before, security of the website was compromised and used in a destructive manner. Anyway, the point is that I now feel that it’s time to forget all that and the first stage had to be creating a fresh new image. On a side note, some of the people who follow my thoughts on the web wanted me to do a series (video) on steps required to theme a WordPress blog and I decided there was no better time to do it than it would be based on a project with a real purpose and real goals.
Now we can dive in to all that geeky stuff that we love and start talking about the actual changes made from both a technical and user experience perspective.
Ok, ok, I know this may sound like a terrible dull way to push from but – during the revamping – I spent an amount of time on and thus where the most improvement can be seen. Anyone who braved the comment section of any article before will have discovered that they had become spam havens. By the time I looked through the comments panel in the backend, an army of almost 5,000 spam comments was fighting to overtake the posts.
As a mechanism to deal with the problem, I made a number of decisions about exactly what constitutes a meaningful response to a post and used them as a basis to decide what deserved to be published. They are available above the comment posting form of any given article.
Better Approach To Writing
All the time that I was making technical alterations, one thought kept occurring to me – the name I chose for the site when I created it around three years back was mine and not one based on inspiration from my interest in technology. After letting that idea sit for a bit I choose that this is my corner of the web to post whatever comes to me that I think other people might want to read. In future, you’ll see that choice result in posts about everything from my favourite television to politics and some tech – obviously (!). Moreover, to try and keep my inspiration flowing, I won’t lay down any targets for myself about how often I’ll post or how long each one will be. In the past, I think not being serious about how much time I could dedicate to this was my downfall. To give a point of reference, due to the fact that I only have the use of my right hand and can only type with my index finger, it has taken me at least three solid hours to get this far in writing the article. Right now (apart from being a little tiring) that isn’t a major issue. When it will become one is upon my return to college in just shy of a month. Then I’ll have lots of new challenges and lengthy assignments to complete. At which point, spending this amount of time typing away after a six hour day in the classroom begins to sound far less appealing. The moral being that, this time, I’m not going to put myself in a position where there will be lots of new content to begin with and then fade ‘cause of lack of ideas.
Cleaner Markup and Design
I hope the posts here are testaments to the fact that semantic code is important to me. Helping to accomplish that throughout this design are certain structural tools unique to the upcoming HTML 5 specification (use of the aside element as the sidebar hook for example). You’ll notice though, if you snoop around the source code, that I didn’t take implementation of an evolving standard to the bitter end. An earlier post discussed my reasoning for this philosophy but the upshot was that, in my view the industry isn’t yet in a place where it can ignore the use of IE 6 and the constraints imposed by the use of it. Sparing us all the lengthy justification, I ultimately settled on using new elements for content that isn’t critical to access of information; hence using them in the sidebar and footer areas but little in the header and main content.
Rating System Employed For Posts
My idea to implement a rating system for posts came as a solution to the fact that I’d chosen to remove all comments that merely showed a general likening or disliking toward the content and thus added no real value to the discussion of the way that comments should. Approaching things in this way have several advantages; the people who wish to show a general opinion can do so in a structured manner and there will be no confusion over which comments are spam. To further explain, if a “visitor” now posts a general comment, that comment is almost guaranteed to be non-genuine because it has fallen outside the pre-defined course of action for expressing that kind of view. Spammers can’t add a link to the number of stars selected!
As of the time of writing, I’m using the kk star rating plugin to handle all the fancy stuff but, as it has a few output display issues, that is liable to change when I find a better option.
This is something that I wish I didn’t have to talk about but I feel that I do. I say that because, in my opinion, we have reached the stage where this ought to be a given but still isn’t. For anyone scratching their head right now, a print stylesheet is a set of CSS rules that only apply when the browser print function is invoked. A lot of popular sites have dedicated “print this page” button instead of a stylesheet. The reason that the CSS method is better is that printing something uses the workflow that the user has become accustom. Although not currently completed, I’m working on it to be completed within the next few days.
Additionally, I’ve started to clean up grammar and spelling in some of the articles.
Over the coming days and weeks, I’ve got more improvements on the way but that’s all for now. If you’ve got anymore ideas about improvements that could be made or you see any issues, please feel free to leave them in the comments.