Site changes coming soon-ish

Submitted by Rich Toscano on June 12, 2017 - 1:44pm

Be ye warned, I will soon be dragging this site into the 2010s with a major upgrade of the underlying software. A lot of things will get better, especially for mobile users. Some things may be a step back (notably, my beloved "ignore user" module is no longer available in the new version). Either way, it's necessary for various technical reasons so there's no way around it.

If anyone has requests or suggestions for site functionality, feel free to comment or send them over via email to I make no promises about what will actually get implemented, but I will certainly consider all suggestions.

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Submitted by spdrun on June 12, 2017 - 5:43pm.

Yes. Don't set it up to yapp at people to "get the app" if they're viewing if from mobile. Nothing I hate more than sites/BB software that try to cram an app down your gullet.

Submitted by Rich Toscano on June 12, 2017 - 5:48pm.

Oh god... never! Isn't that the worst?

Also... there won't be an app. :-) (just a responsive ui, so hopefully easier for mobile users to navigate/read).

Submitted by spdrun on June 12, 2017 - 5:52pm.

Some discussion board software automatically pimps an app -- if you're using commercial software at all, that is.

Submitted by justme on June 15, 2017 - 11:13am.

A great many conversions of websites to mobile format have been utter disasters in terms of losing readability, functionality and usability on the desktop.

A lot of the problems have to do with converting to a 1-column "streaming" or "scrolling" format. It becomes like watching TV. Everything just becomes a stream of "the latest". Much of the value in a website is in the institutionalized memory and the ability to see and access older material that may in fact be more interesting and valuable, but that is drowned in the incessant flow of "new news".

Something to consider.

Submitted by Rich Toscano on June 15, 2017 - 11:24am.

Hi Justme, thanks, that's a good comment and I agree -- I'm not a big fan of the "scrolling forever" look either.

Fortunately, the responsive skin I am using means that it can look different for mobile and web. The mobile version will be more scroll-y -- no way around that. But the desktop version will not -- it will look different, and better (I hope), but it will be optimized for using on a desktop web browser.

Submitted by justme on June 15, 2017 - 11:54am.

That sounds promising, having two separate skins. Do you know another blog that uses the same software (is it still drupal?) and also has two separate incarnations? I'm curious what they look like.

Submitted by Rich Toscano on June 15, 2017 - 12:00pm.

It's just one "skin" (actually they are officially called "themes"), it's just that the layout is different based on what client the user is using. Maybe that distinction is useless, I don't know. Anyway, it's called "responsive" web design. It's pretty common... the only one I know offhand is my other site, but there are tons of examples out there. If you google "responsive website example" you should find some good stuff.

Submitted by moneymaker on June 17, 2017 - 3:25am.

Feel like a luddite, as have no idea what everyone is talking about, just bring it on and we shall see.

Submitted by scaredyclassic on June 20, 2017 - 4:28pm.

change is almost invariably bad

Submitted by harvey on June 20, 2017 - 8:29pm.

Rich Toscano wrote:
notably, my beloved "ignore user" module is no longer available in the new version

I'm looking forward to having a much larger audience.

Submitted by urbanrealtor on June 21, 2017 - 9:20pm.

But seriously... when will the app be out?

Submitted by urbanrealtor on June 21, 2017 - 9:20pm.

harvey wrote:
Rich Toscano wrote:
notably, my beloved "ignore user" module is no longer available in the new version

I'm looking forward to having a much larger audience.

good lord....

Submitted by barnaby33 on June 26, 2017 - 10:28pm.

If the lord were good, you'd be in jail and I'd be rich, not Rich.

Responsive website usually refers to a lightweight javascript driven single page app.

Submitted by justme on July 7, 2017 - 3:03pm.

I thought I might give an example of how NOT to redesign a web site for "mobile". Google just redesigned their News page for mobile within the last week, and it is horrible for the desktop. Compare the before and after images (link) to see what I mean.

The main design principle appears to be "every news item must be accompanied by an image that conveys no information and takes up so much space that you cannot fit the headlines on one page".

Submitted by Rich Toscano on July 7, 2017 - 3:56pm.

Idunno, tbh I think the new version looks pretty good...

Submitted by justme on July 8, 2017 - 5:21pm.

For me it is not the look per se that is wrong. It is how the look damages the functionality.

Submitted by gzz on September 3, 2017 - 1:03pm.

Rich, I vote that you do not do any major redesigns. The site works great right now and is very well designed, better than many big sites with big budgets. The investment of your time on a redesign I do not see having a big upside, but runs the risk of breaking old links, turn off users, or being a time suck to get everything to work right.

The only real change I suggest is making the site wider. Right now about 60% of the screen on my desktop PC with the browser window maximized is blank background.

To do this, I would make the center column (ie the one with this text box) about 30% bigger, and the right column about 75% bigger. That way the "active forum topics" would be one line each, and you could display the past 30 topics rather than the past 15. Likewise the other right column box could get more content links.

A final suggestion is that you promote yourself more with more prominent links to your corporate page.

Submitted by Rich Toscano on September 3, 2017 - 1:09pm.

Hi gzz -- Thanks a lot for the comments. (And thanks for the compliments!)

Unfortunately the time suck aspect is a necessity... for technical reasons I need to update a lot of it for it to keep working well. This being the case, I'd have to start over with the design even if I wanted to keep it as is... so as long as I'm doing that I might as well make it work a little better in our multi-device world.

I agree on the width thing. It will use horizontal space a lot more efficiently. (But, it will probably look pretty different -- sorry :-)

Thanks again for the input.


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