Blog Design Updated

I am proud to have completed and mostly implemented the new blog design. I say mostly, because the "Tags & Archives" and "Search" pages are not yet complete. Everything else should be working; please leave a comment here or a message on the Contact page if you find any broken links.

The purpose of this redesign is two-fold. First, I have been growing more and more unhappy with WordPress. It&rsquot;s not that WordPress is bad, but it is bad for me. As an experienced Web Developer, it is more difficult to figure out the WordPress way to do things than to just code it myself. Now I am solely responsible for the code on this site, which should provide greater flexibility and control. Second, the previous design not friendly to the medium. This is a blog, and the design should optimize for readability on many platforms. As such I now use a liquid layout, which will scale to fill up the viewport allowing you to see more of the post; it will also shrink (within reason) to be more readable on smaller devices, such as mobile phones. Also to increase the available horizontal space, I removed the sidebar, replacing it with a thin header/footer.

The hardest part of the new architecture was making it backwards compatible with the 200+ existing article URLs. The last thing I wanted was for all the existing links to go link dead or require a redirect. Consequently, I preserved them using some mod-rewrite rules, which point to static, cached HTML files (one for each post). This way the new URLs (I simplified the URL scheme) and the old URLs will both server the same content. Also, by caching the HTML for each post, I can reduce the number of pages needing to communicate with the database, thereby improving page loading speeds and site performance.

New Pages Added

  • About - a section about me, this blog, and the content I produce
  • Contact - a way to leave me a direct message
  • Table of Contents - a list of all non-news posts, organized by content type
  • Tags & Artives - an at a glance view of all content sorted by tags and dates*
  • Search - an improved way to search the content of this blog*
  • Options - a way to modify your experience with this blog*

* at this time of writing this article, these features were not yet implemented

Lastly, the RSS feed has changed to http://feeds.feedburner.com/WebDevelopmentByMattSnider. Although, existing feeds will still be served, I hope you will update your reader to use the new URL.