So everything on my 3rd redesign is starting to come together and I just wanted to give a quick explanation for the changes.
Over the last year or so I have been tweaking the design to make it work, but I’ve still been kind of upset about the overall usability. The archives sucked and there was just a lot of room for improvement. So when I started out I wrote down these as my goals:
- Fix the archives: Make them easier to browse.
- Make the search work better: The old version had links on top and entries beneath instead of having them split up.
- Make it not hurt my eyes: How come no one ever told me it hurts your eyes when you look at it on a real monitor (not a laptop).
- Bubble up categories: There was no mention of categories on the homepage of the old site. I wanted that to change.
Here’s how I addressed those issues:
- I made the archives revolve around categories now, since I think they’re far more important than dates. If someone is looking for a date they’re most likely looking for something specific that they can use the search for. Categories are much better for browsing. I also added a way to browse categories by the number of entries in the category. This required a bit of PHP, but I think it’s a very logical way to browse. I’m also in the process of paring down the categories and adding descriptions for each. That will take a bit of time, though.
- I split the search to display entries on the left and sidenotes on the right. Now you can see them side-by-side rather than having to wade through a bunch of links when you’re looking for an entry.
- By adding some more contrast and changing the link color to a darker green it shouldn’t be as painful on the eyes. If it is, let me know.
- The importance of categories as a browsing tool I already mentioned. I wanted a way to see the category of an entry on the homepage. That’s what the little last five table does. (I used a table, blasphemous, huh?)
There are some other little changes you’ll discover (changed the comment form, added previous/next entry links). There are also a few things that aren’t done (haven’t quite figured out what’s going in the lower right box on an entry).
Otherwise, though, I’m very happy with the way it’s working. I think that I’ve improved not only the look, but also the experience of the site. Let me know what you think (and if anything is wrong).