Complete site overhaul

I’ve completely overhauled my site again, not just the design, but I’ve changed the way the content is presented and organized as well. I was never really happy with having the basic, generic, “blog”-type layout, having the site centered around one long page showing the last X posts. This is fine for fine for some things, but it’s not what I wanted for this site. So with this redesign, I’ve made the site less “bloggy” in its look and use, while still keeping the blog as the primary content.

The first step was to decide what content should be on the front page. Because at its core, the site is still mostly a blog, I needed to have at least some blog content here, but I’d like it to be a proper landing page as well, with non-blog content as well. After experimenting with a couple different approaches, I decided to display the single latest post in its entirety, followed by headlines from the previous ten posts. Additional content on this page includes another little window into what I’m doing, with lists of my latest bookmarks, books I’m reading, and latest photos posted to Flickr.

Each of these last items are excerpts showing just the latest activity in each of these areas. I’ve had my book list, recent bookmarks, and Netflix queue on my site for a long time, and they’re still there, but this section on the front provides a small window to each of these pages wit the option to see more, if desired. This section appears only on the front page of the site and the index of the Miscellany section, which is kind of a dumping ground for random stuff like this. It’s a little bare at the moment, as I did a little housecleaning in this section too.

The navigation has been streamlined and now only contains five links: the now-combined about/colophon page, a contact page, the aforementioned Miscellany section, the blog archive, and, visually separated a bit, a “subscribe” link to a page showing various alternate ways to read the site’s content. A simple search box follows.

Most of these pages are self-explanatory, but the blog archive has changed a bit in this iteration. The headline display style on the front page, showing just headlines and dates, is now used for all archive and search pages. Gone are the long pages with post after post, down to a “previous” link to the next pagefull. Taking more of a general CMS approach, the archives and search results (including post listings by tag) are now a list of results, rather than the results themselves. This makes the pages shorter and much easier to scan. The archive page features a tag cloud at the top, followed by post headlines organized by date. Categories are gone. I’m still using them internally, but I’ve decided that for this site tags alone are more useful.

There are still a couple of minor rendering bugs in Internet Explorer, mostly having to do with the sidebar. They aren’t show-stoppers though, and most people probably won’t even notice, so it went ahead and launched and will fix them later. I worked on IE bugs a bit before launching, but I’m using it under Virtual PC which is maddeningly slow. I can’t wait to get an Intel-based Mac so I can do proper virtualization.

The site is still powered by WordPress, with a good amount of customization and a nice selection of plugins to help with some of the changes I’ve made.