You may have noticed that this blog is now sporting a new look. I thought a brief post was in order to outline the reasons for changing the look and what it means for you.
When this blog first started, it didn’t get much traffic and even fewer comments. It was thrown up quickly by me using a freely available WordPress Theme. Over the last year or so the length of the posts have increased, the number of visitors have increased and with it, the number of comments. A few weeks ago I decided it was time for a change, and I set the following goals:
- Improve Readability
- Improve Handling of Comments
- Provide Room for Expansion
Let’s break those goals down.
Readability was not a strong point of the theme I was using. Small text on a dark background does not equate to readability. It got to the point where I didn’t enjoy reading my own posts and the comments of others on this site, purely because of the styling of the text. This situation had to be remedied.
Improve Handling of Comments
There are a lot of comments on this site. Some posts already have 100+ comments against them. 100 comments against a post require a slightly different structure than 5 comments against a post.
Provide Room for Expansion
I’ve got some exciting ideas for this site, and was already beginning to find the previous theme restrictive. The new look should provide a bit more flexibility and agility.
The design of the blog has been completely overhauled. I’ve changed it to dark text on a light background, introduced a better visual hierarchy for content and given text some more rome to breathe. Hopefully it’s easier to read. I’ve also rolled out some more specific changes.
I’ve made two changes to the comments system. They are now threaded and paginated. Threaded comments mean you can now respond directly to a previous comment, and see your reply appear in line. This should help keep the comments organised, and allow commenters to easily see any replies against their comments. If you want to reply to a specific comment, just click the “Reply” link and type away!
You’ll also notice that comments are now paginated, so that no more than 25 comments appear on page at any one time. Again, this is to help keep the comments organised and easier to use. I’m not 100% sold on this approach, so I’ll be monitoring it over the next few weeks.
This site now also supports Gravatars, so if you have one linked to your email address, it will now show up in the comments. Hopefully this will aid with scanability.
The old, rather hit and miss, search facility has now been replaced by a Google Custom Search. This should provide more relevant results. The other big benefit of using Google is that it searches the entire site, including the comments. This was very important.
Improved Inter-Page Linking
One of the major problems with the old theme was that links to other pages were not really promoted as much as they should have been. This has been addressed with dynamic “Most Popular” and “Recent Comment” areas as well as slots for me to manually add featured content links.
Known Issues and Improvements
I’ve already identified some areas for improvement, and I’ll be monitoring performance over the next few weeks. At the moment, the site does not function correctly with Internet Explorer 6. Personally, I don’t see this as an issue. We only get a handful of visitors using this out dated browser, so it doesn’t warrant to extra effort to correct the problems at this moment in time. If you are one of the IE6 users out there, you really should upgrade your browser as soon as possible (I’d recommend the completely free and excellent FireFox).
I’m interested to hear your thoughts on the redesign. It’s so different that it may be jarring at first, but I believe the changes are for the best. I’m no web designer, so while I’ll make every effort to enhance the site and correct bugs, I can’t promise I’ll have the time and / or knowhow.
The image below (click to enlarge) depicts the site as it is supposed to look. If you are looking at a site that looks significantly different, please let me know by using either the comments or the reinstated contact form.