Wednesday, July 13, 2005

SITE UPDATE: Notice Anything Different Around Here?

Posted by AmishThrasher at 12:54 pm
Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan:
Not sure about the times changing,
but the blog has...
It's time for another site update to fill you all in on the latest news on the AmishThrasher Blog. Noticed anything different about the site since last time you visited? I'll keep you posted on what I've changed, why I changed it, plus a few hints about what's still to come (whenever I get around to it, by which I really mean "soon", and by "soon" I probably really mean never). Click through for more details if you're interested.Hi, and Welcome (again) to the AmishThrasher!

The biggest change since last time is that I've made the site a lot easier to read. One of the big problems of the blogosphere (in my opinion) is that with Blogger (and I'd imagine several other major blog hosting sites), by default the whole text of your most recent post appears on the main page of the blog. Depending on the format of the content on the site, this in itself isn't a problem; in fact, on sites which mostly consist of a short paragraph or two (perhaps with links to other stories) like Slashdot, or Guidomedia, this works perfectly.

The problem comes in when you have articles posted up which take more than a paragraph or two. Sometimes this means posting excerpts from an article posted elsewhere, and making comments about it, or writing several paragraphs, or posting a whole essay. And, as some of you will no doubt have noticed, I can be quite verbose (even when it's not a whole essay that gets posted up). By default, the whole article appears on the front page. This becomes a problem if you're interested in one thing I cover in this blog, and couldn't care less about the rest; you have to wade through paragraphs upon paragraphs of other stuff to get to what you want to read!

This is in stark contrast to a well presented magazine, or some of the more professional news or magazine websites on the internet. In the well presented Magazine, you might get a paragraph or two on a contents page telling you what the articles are about, and the page you need to flip to to read them. The same deal goes for the contents page of a well presented magazine online. With these, you can quickly scan through the articles, and either flip to the page (or click the link of the page) that has the stuff you're interested in, without having to spend time wading through the rest.

Well, doing something similar within blogger (or on another blogging site, or with another blogging program) is actually surprisingly easy - for those of you who are interested, the instructions are posted here. So from here on in, the front page of the AmishThrasher will have a short description of the article, a selected quote, or the first paragraph or two; if you're interested in reading more, click the link and read it, but if you don't, you don't have to wade through the whole article to get to what you want.

There are other perks to doing this too, like front page of the site loading a lot quicker for those of you with slow internet connections. It should also help get more accurate search results for this site too - looking through the logs, I've noticed some wierd combinations of search words which have seen people land on one of my archives pages, where I've said something in one post, and then 8 posts and 8000 words later I've used another word that they've searched for in regards to something totally unrelated. While it's great to have these people coming to the site, it really doesn't help them much with whatever it is they're looking for. By doing this, this should happen much less often.

There are a few other odds and ends in regards to the blog. There are a few other changes I'm looking at in regards to the template beyond that; I'll update you all on it when I put them in. Yesterday I got back 2 e-mails based on my questions to the ALP, Labor, and Greens in regards to public transport. As I said earlier, I'll post those up sometime soon.

Finally, why do I bother posting up these Site Updates? Well, I've noticed that there seems to be a number of people who read the site regularly. And I don't want to keep big changes in regards to the blog hidden from you, the regular reader. Posting the site updates will make sure that the decisions I make in regard to the format or editorial direction of the site are in the open, rather than decided behind closed doors (per se). By making comments to these site updates, you can contribute your thoughts or opinions to the formatting or editorial direction the site is taking.

Anyway, thankyou for reading,