site update 2009/refine and rework

Ever since I launched my blog I've been making slight changes to it left and right, but in October last year I decide to rework the front-end from the ground up. With that came several design refinements and a new gallery section. One thing led to another, causing me a lot more work than I'd expected. Yesterday we were able to get the new version up and running. Here's a little overview of the changes.

big things

I guess the most important update is the new gallery section. I used to have a gallery before and after a year of absence I really started missing it. Taking pics is something I like doing a lot, so having a nice and shiny gallery on your own site really is an improvement. Not that there will be weekly updates there, but it will be nice to add a gallery once in a while to show off some pics.

The gallery also gave me a good excuse to work on my homepage. It used to be a dull page with some filler text (since I had nothing to add on it), now it gives you a good overview of the latest articles (for each category) and the newest added pictures. Still not present yet, but hopefully soon there will be a graph displaying weekly IE6 stats taken from my Analytics page.

These two additions are probably the most visible of all the changes. But there is more.

small things

Another fun addition are the page stats on article pages (for an example, see my article on The Broken). These stats will tell you page views, unique visitors and average time on site. Having several entrances for the same article (fe. personal profile and onderhond profile) means that these stats are also split per section and totals are given for each stat. Since this is pretty specific I added a little legend with a short explanation for people trying to figure out what it all means.

Some design tweaks were also made. I made little changes to font color, the right column became a little wider and the header changed a tiny bit with some improvements to the logo (hover state for one). Colors are applied more consistently and the footer got a little update too. Other sections received little design tweaks too. Nothing big, but big enough to make a difference.

hidden things

A lot of time went into the renewal of my back-office. Not that you can see any of that but I did a little experimental color invert design through the technique I explained in the blacklabel articles. Maybe I'll show you some pictures later, but there's still some work to be done there. At least I cleaned the whole thing up, even if it is just for myself.

technical things

A lot of time went into refactoring the technical implementation. The html and css is completely renewed and javascript and css are spliced between site and back-office so regular visitors don't need to load specific back-office code anymore. All javascript was made unobtrusive and several new javascript components were added to the site. Most of this was done by myself and marked my first experience with jquery.

The back-end code was also updated to make the site run a little faster and to make the code easier to maintain. This means that in the future I'll be able to update much of the front-end code by myself.

future things

Not everything is 100% ready yet, there are some smaller issues with the javascript in the gallery and IE testing isn't finished yet. But more importantly, this should hopefully be the last big update I do. From now on I plan to dynamically improve the site bit by bit, talking my own advise from my article on iterative design.

Hope you like the changes.