Site Redesign Underway

Published on Thursday, September 04, 2008 in

ProgrammingI ended my previous post with the comment, Hmm . . . maybe I need to look at redesigning some site features at Grey Matters. If you look closely, you'll note that this has already begun!

Starting a month or two ago, I decided this site needed a new design. My first thought was that it needed a new look, as I had done before (check out this 2006 look for the site, this 2005 look for the presentation section, and even this pre-Grey Matters blog version of the Mental Gym! from 2001!). I examined numerous blog templates, and even found some great candidates, but I could never really find one that made me want to switch from the current design.

Some of it is boring, behind-the-scenes type of redesign, such as reducing my dependence on code from outside sites, fixing/removing broken links, setting up folders that automatically sync with the servers that power Grey Matters, and so on. However, I have a few visual goodies already up and running.

First, you'll notice the tabs that used to be at the top are now a solid block. If you run your pointer over this solid block, however, you'll notice it's not just a set of links, but rather a full-fledged menu bar! Instead of just going to the main pages of each section, you can now go to many of the sub-sections of each area, as well.

Want to go to the Knight's Tour instructions? Move your mouse-pointer over the Mental Gym area, and when that section drops down, go down to Mental “Feat”-ures. When the sub-menu drops down, click on Knight's Tour, and you'll be taken directly to it! The tabs only linked to the main pages of each site, so I'm hoping this change will encourage people to explore Grey Matters in more detail.

The other major visual change is that of changing the Site Feeds and Downloads sections in the rightmost column from simple lists into accordions. This not only makes them look better, but now they're clearer, better organized, and easier to use, all while taking up less space! The downloads section, for example, is no longer a hodge-podge of downloads for various systems. They're now organized by type of system: OS X, Windows, and iPhone.

One of the side effects of resdesigning the righmost column has been to remove or fix all the broken links. In my site feed subscription badges, for example, I had one badges for a feed site that hadn't been in business for over a year!

While many of the changes are employing Javascript, I'm also being very careful to make sure that any changes will still have at least some functionality if you're surfing with Javascript turned off.

I have more plans to improve the site. Some features you will see, some you won't see, and some are only experimental, and may not be seen on the site by you or me. If you have any suggestions on improving the appearance and function of the site, please let me know!

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1 Response to Site Redesign Underway

3:26 PM

Your site is fresh and I and others heartily recommend it!
So well done! And I like it that you are hungry to use the web technologies.
Something you don't seem to do, which you must have thought of already, and which is generally found on evolved sites, is an ABOUT page on the main menu. A magician who visits your site because a separate interest of his is timed quizzes, might find an ABOUT section enlightening.