24 Nov 2009 7:24 am   //   Filed under: Technology

New site is go!

redesigncompare

Over the last few days, I’ve been phasing in a new design on Daryllang.com and the History Eraser Button blog. Here are some ideas that influenced the changes:

  • I moved everything to a new server.* I now get more storage for less money, and have access to new bells and whistles—notably, the ability to run cron jobs, which are scripts that operate in the background on a timed schedule.
  • On the blog, I wanted a layout wide enough to accommodate the new 853-pixel-wide YouTube videos. The template you see here is exactly 903 pixels wide, plus 25 pixels of padding on each side, for that exact reason.
  • Increasingly, people arrive at individual blog posts through Twitter and Facebook, rather than following links from the blog’s home page or Daryllang.com. Then they exit after viewing one page. That’s not how most bloggers want it (we want it to be a destination, and we want to be sticky), but readers are not like grazing cattle. They are like bees hopping from flower to flower. This is the reality of the web today. I’d rather accommodate readers than fight them. Thinking along those lines, I removed the top menu bar to make the blog look as clean as possible, and bumped the navigation and other less-important stuff from the sidebar to the bottom of the page. I also removed the Twitter feed from the blog, since it was distracting—and I made it more prominent on my main home page.
  • The old home page, centered around a live feed of headlines, was an impressive build given my limited programming skills. But it was cluttered, clumsy and slow. The new design is simpler. (The font treatment was influenced by New York City subway signage.) I also wrote new code that checks the weather report and Twitter without slowing down the loading of the home page.
  • I was getting tired of blue.

Of course, every web site should be considered always under construction, so more changes are still to come. My travel page needs some fixing up—a map?—so I’m going to tackle that next. You might find bugs and quirky formatting for a few more days while I keep messing around with stuff, trying to make it better. Please send me an e-mail if you notice anything strange. Why do I bother with this stuff? I find noodling with web pages to be intensely relaxing. Daryllang.com is a sandbox where I can try new things and learn new skills without really risking anything. Thanks for visiting.

* I’m still using OLM.net, a hosting company in Connecticut that has provided consistently good service for 8 years.