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Some Thoughts...

Live Site Redesign (2004.02.25)

This page will serve as a progress report/status sheet for the “live” redesign of this site. I hope to make a change each night for the next several (up to eight) weeks.

If you have any comments or suggestions, please e-mail me at: somebody (at) joek.com.

2004.02.24: Introduction

From my Blah post: 2004.02.24.

So, with another class finished, I now have a week until my next night class starts (the first of March). Since this next class should be a fairly easy one, I plan to spend the free time I’ll have during the eight-week semester on redesigning and improving this site.

To help me get the redesign done within this eight-week period, I plan to do most of this redesign process “live”. This means that, rather than develop the site on my local computer and then upload it when it is all finished, I’m going to be uploading the work as I get it done each (hopefully) night. Unfortunately, this means that, at times, my site may look “broken” to any casual visitors. Well, that’s a risk I’m going to have to take for this experiment in redesign.

2004.02.25: Preliminaries

I’ve completed downloading all the contents of my current site (29.8 MB total) so that I have an archive of how it was (something I never really did with previous redesigns).

I’ve created this page to document the progress of my redesign. The Whatever section of my site is in need of a serious overhaul, but its purpose (longer, occasional, writings) fits this progress page.

I’ve added permanent links to my Blah entries. I’ve been meaning to do this for a long time, and now in this redesign I am forcing myself to do it. This means that I, or anyone else, can now link to specific Blah entries (not like they’re all that special, but some people might like to). For this, I decided on using the address element. Why? Well, I feel that the permanent link is providing an address to the location of the entry it is for. Mind you, this is not invalid use of HTML, as the W3C only says that the address element may be used by authors to supply contact information. This means (in my opinion) that it could also be used to indicate other addresses (like a URL address for a current blog entry).

I’ve also killed this site’s use of opening external links (ones to other Web sites) in a new browser window. If you don’t already know to hold down the Shift key while clicking on a link in Internet Explorer to open a link in a new window (or how to use Mozilla or Firefox’s tabbed browsing abilities), then I’m sorry. (Although, this change may not instantly take effect for you if your browser is caching my external JavaScript file.)

2004.02.26: Link Cleaning

I’ve been doing some link cleaning recently, and some more tonight. I’ve updated links where I could, but for most which have just plain died, I’ve marked them with a del (delete) tag to indicate that they once existed but that they no longer do. Tonight was a kind of busy tv night, so I didn’t get completely done with the link cleaning.

2004.02.28: Link Cleaning

I’ve finished cleaning through links on my site, trying to update/delete dead links. I’m sure that I haven’t got all of them cleaned up though. I’ve been using the W3C’s Link Checker just to check whether a link still works or not, but I haven’t been checking to make sure that the sites I linked to are still the sites which exist today (some sites change overtime as they change owners).

2004.03.05: No Updates

Of course, no updates in the past few days can mean only one thing: Real Life has dominated over Internet Life.

Next week should bring more changes, like changes to the navigation.

2004.03.16: Back At It

Finally, back to some work on this site. But not much, I’ve just been playing around with redirects so that I can move some content around on my site. I know, cool URIs don’t change, but bad ones must. I don’t know why I put /desktops/ in /other/desktops/ when it should have just been in the root. What, was I thinking that I was going to put everything in /other/?

2004.03.18: Copy changes

I’ve been making some copy (text for those not in the business) changes to existing pages in this site. Nothing minor, just a few changes to introductory text for some pages (such as the Homepage Archive). I’ve also now given Desktops and the Homepage Archive their own space in the site menu.

2004.03.24: Jokes Improvement

Finally got some time to make a few more minor improvements. Finally sinking it into my head that visitors can (and do) come to my site through any page (not just the homepage or a main section page), I’ve finally accommodated this in the Jokes section. Now, when you’re reading a joke, at the bottom are links to other jokes in the same categories. This should hopefully (along with the graphics redesigns this site will get) help get people to click around and explore other jokes or areas of my site if they had come to my site by directly going to a joke.

2004.04.02: Poetry Art, Now More Prominent

Yesterday (and finishing up today), I’ve moved my poetry artwork out from hiding in the poetry section, to it’s own place in the site menu.

By now this almost wraps up the content-shifting I’ve been planning.

2004.04.04: Whatever Reconstruction

I’ve now reworked and improved this Whatever section. I’ve put more of the focus on the categories, and I’ve added more meaningful subtitles to each page (where before they were each subtitled simple by the category name and date).

2004.05.01: Finally Redesigned

Well I finally got done with enough of the redesign. The main purpose of this redesign was to move the content of each page more to the top—structurally. What this means is that, previously, in the code behind each page, first came the site title, then the menu, and then the content (lead first by the section title, as the highest level heading).

Unfortunately, this didn’t help Google much as the first things it read on all my pages were always the same (the menu, the section title). It also didn’t help people using non-graphical browsers (or ones which don’t render the style sheets this site used), as they would always have to skip past the menu to begin reading the content of each page. (Of this last part, I really noticed this when using the browser on my dad’s new cellphone.)

So, the main purpose of this redesign was to move the content above the menu. In doing so, I would also have had to either rebuild all (or almost all) the style sheets in this site (so that the designs would remain the same even though the underlying code completely changed), or I would have had to create some new designs (and style sheets). I chose the second option.

I also chose this option because I figured it would make choosing different designs for this site easier. Through the old change method, I gave visitors lots of options, but they might have been too many options. Sure, the options of picking different colors, fonts, and layouts may have been fun; but it also made for a lot of work if a visitor just wanted a quick change. So, now with (what will be many more) individual designs, choosing a different design theme for this site will be easier for visitors, and making different designs will be easier for me as I won’t have to worry about how a design will look with all of these different layout/font/color option combinations.

With my easy class finishing (it may have been easy, but I still had homework to do), and Judy needing the computer to do her homework and exams, it took me a long time to finally finish these redesigns. And since these last bits of redesign (changing the structure and creating a new design) relied on each other, I had to make these changes (and all their tests to make sure that they worked) on my hard drive first, and then upload it all at once later. Hence the long time between the last update and this one.

Now it’s all live, and hopefully working good enough (more testing needs to be done now that everything is uploaded). More designs and content will come it the future... as free time allows me.

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