Everything Old Is New Again
January 11, 2024
Back in the earlier days of this site, I used a blogging engine called Movable Type. The static pages (listings, info pages, etc.) were simply coded in DreamWeaver or BBEdit (a text editor). For several technical reasons—an overwhelming comment spam problem, a broken search function—I decided to move to WordPress, a much more popular and better-supported alternative, where you could get decent plug-ins to thwart spam bots.
Unfortunately, the classic design of the site, which I’d spent years developing and tweaking, had to be set aside. WordPress has something called a “theme” that controls what the site looks like. It soon became apparent that my old design was not something I’d be able to easily recreate or adapt to WordPress. So I picked a WordPress theme that was acceptable, tweaked the typography and link colors, and called it a day. It was a big step down from my old design—not just the look but the functionality. But I now had protection from spam bots and the site worked better on smartphones.
I figured that this was just a temporary solution, and that someday, somehow, I would restore the old design.
Well, that day has come.
A couple of weeks ago, I discovered a very good video tutorial that explained how to create a custom WordPress theme from an existing static website design. This was exactly what I was looking for. I also realized that I needed to update my old design to modern web design standards (HTML5 and CSS3) and ditch the antiquated HTML-table-based methods I’d built it with. And I had to revise the design so it would work on smart phones. (The old design didn’t.)
So I cracked open some books on HTML5 and CSS3, and started coding for the first time in almost ten years.
Turns out, it wasn’t as hard as I thought.
I launched the new design a couple of days ago. For those of you who have been following me for a while (I launched the site at the end of 1996) the new design will feel very familiar. For newcomers, this is what I’ve wanted the site to look like all along. The listings pages are dramatically better than in the old generic WordPress theme I had to use. And I’ve been able to customize the theme to work exactly the way I want it to work.
The new design is even better than the original. As I mentioned, it’s “responsive,” meaning that it adapts to the size of the device you’re using. On smaller screens, the navigation menu shrinks to an icon at the top of the screen. Tap on the icon to see the menu. Tap on the “X” to close it.
The new design also brings back some things that were lost when I switched to WordPress in 2017:
- The Answers page now shows the full text again, instead of just the topics
- There is a new Unanswered page that shows just the unanswered questions I’ve received, in case you want to take a crack at it
- Comments are more visible and accessible again
Generally, everything is more compact and snappy. Like it used to be.
If you run into any problems with the new design, let me know. Like I said, I haven’t done web design or coding in a while, so there might be some glitches or things that don’t work in the particular browser that you use. If so, I’ll try to fix it.
For now, I couldn’t be happier with the new design, which is really just the old design with a new and better foundation.
So far, everything is working fine for me. I like it. 👍
January 18, 2024 7:02 pm
Thanks for letting me know!
January 18, 2024 7:38 pm
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