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I enjoy working on many different tasks but that means I often lose track of my work on this website. What follows are notes to myself and to curious visitors like you about the reasoning behind how this website is to be redesigned. Every time I come back to this page, I update it. This clears my thoughts and refeshes my memory about what I'm doing to welcome people to my world.

Re-designing a website

Websites should be simple to edit (so the author's effort goes into content, not mechanics) and easy to navigate (so the visitor's attention is on the content, not the mechanics). I find it difficult to stick with any design. Perhaps that's why, starting in September, 2003, I started re-designing my own website to allow for a photographic diary or blog. My challenge will be to create a design I can stick with for a year or more!

SEPTEMBER 14, 2003 - THE RE-DESIGN - As you can see below, I start simple, with a page containing two tables, one above the other. Both are 700 pixels wide. The top horizontal navigation is a one-row table of seven cells. Each cell contains a GIF image. These cells can be made into rollovers later, or not! Below this table is a another table, one column wide and four rows deep. Two rows are there just for spacing. Later, columns can be added to the editable region if I want to add an additional left-hand navigation bar or have two or three columns of text and graphics. Because this table is separate from the top, the columns can be any width. The bottom row with its copyright notice and text-based navigation will be standard on all pages. Eventually, this will become a "library item" that, if changed, will change on all the pages that contain it. The background color is 9F9599, a reddish-putty color, light enough that this black type is easy to read, but dark enough that white type can be used for emphasis. On 256-bit color monitors, the background would appear as grey, 999999. As usual, the page is centered in the browser.

I want to start a photographic weblog, but how should the photos be presented? My third or fourth idea is to have the text of the blog illustrated by large thumbnails, just like this! Each thumbnail would be a link to an elegant display of a nicely-framed exhibition image. The frame would be 800 pixels across -- an image 700 pixels wide with a 45 pixel white border and a 5 pixel black border. Also, I plan to add my initials to the lower righthand corner. No text will show, just the image, an image that can be clicked to return to the blog. Again, the background is dark enough to dramatize the white frame. As for the thumbnail, it will have a 25-pixel neutral border on the side facing the text and below it, so the text doesn't jam it, as seen here, an image 350 pixels wide that leaves lots of room for text. Click the thumbnail to see how the nicely-framed exhibition image might look, centered vertically and horizontally in the browser screen. After the exhibition image appears, you can click it to return to this page. Or, use the "BACK" button of your browser. What I don't like about this scheme is that adding borders to the images takes time. I am a lazy man with not nearly enough time to accomplish all those projects I get so enthused about initially, only to find I would rather take a nap, read a book, listen to music, or watch a movie. Perhaps there is some way of automating the framing process in Photoshop.

OCTOBER 10, 2003 - GO FORWARD, BRANCHING!- Stories and diaries move forward in time but most weblogs move backward. That's because most visitors want to see the latest entries, not the ones they've already seen. This makes sense if most visitors come back every day to check to see if something new has been added. Few if any visitors are so devoted to this website, if only because new items appear so infrequently. In any case, I don't like the reverse telling of a story. Blogs, like books, are linear. The difference is that new pages are inserted. The challenge is navigational, letting people start wherever they like and, when they return, letting them pick up where they left off. The other challenge is egotistical. Authors get tired of seeing the old stuff and want to put the new stuff up front. Also, we all want our pages to look fresh. But that does not mean that the story must be told backwards. When new features are added to a blog, they can be highlighted at the start and in a table of contents. Those features can change regularly.
. . . While a blog is like a book, because both are linear, a website is not, because it can branch like a tree or get twisted like a pot of boiling spaghetti. Visitors can be offered many different paths. This page, for example, could be a little side trip. By the time I am done with it though, visitors to this page may be presented with several directions to go in addition to going back to where they came.

OCTOBER 11, 2003 - CONTENTS AND TABLE OF CONTENTS - Because I am easily bored and so very multi-talented, I will want more than paragraphs and thumbnails on my blog. I will want it to branch off into pages like this one, off to whatever I happen to have added, not just photographs. Will that change the design? Can my blog still be linear in time? Why not? If I've just designed a new website or a new webpage, I can put a thumbnail of a screenshot in place instead of a photo, just like I've done here with a thumbnail of the Cathedral Choir School of Delaware's home page, which links to their website, carrying visitors to my website far, far away.

OCTOBER 14, 2003 - WELCOME OR WELCOME BACK? - Now I'm ready to re-design my Home page, which will welcome first-time visitors and old-time friends. Again, the first-timers want to see something comprehensible and inviting while the old-timers want to see something new and different.With the addition of the blog, I can start with whatever segment of the blog I've most recently added, perhaps using the narrower right or left side to provide links to the older sections for essays, photography and design as well as a link to the blog's table of contents. Let's try that!




All pages copyright 2000-2006 Danny N. Schweers