As of 7th May, I will have been blogging for 11 years, mostly here at sjhoward.co.uk. Until today, the structure of the site had changed little in that time.
A few moments ago, I flipped the switch on the biggest ever overhaul of the site. I've rewritten every single template file (the files that power the design of the site) from scratch, and cut the number from 16 to 5. This helps to make the site zippier. More importantly to me, it means that the morass of code which I've cultivated over the last decade has been cut down to size and made navigable again, making maintenance a heck of a lot easier.
When people come to this site, they tend to access specific posts rather than the homepage. In the new incarnation of the site, the content of posts is front and centre. To make content easier to read, I've increased the text size considerably, and stripped back the design excesses. Templates no longer differ by type of post. I've reduced the colour palette and applied its principles more consistently across the site. I've drastically cut the number of extraneous links to irrelevant things scattered around the page. For example, while every page had a link to Radio 4's Desert Island Discs in the old design, this has now been removed. I think you can probably find your own way there.
Similarly, I've radically simplified the typography, now relying almost exclusively on two typefaces: Playfair Display and Raleway. I think some people might criticise the use of Playfair as the main typeface for copy – but I think it works well given the larger font size in use throughout. I'd be delighted to hear your thoughts.
I've moved contextual information to a smaller sidebar accompanying each post. This effectively reduces the prominence of this information in many cases, but by having it appear in a consistent position throughout the site, it is perhaps easier to find.
The redesign remains a work in progress, and I'll no doubt tweak it over time. That said, this hasn't been a rushed job… I've been plugging away at it, off and on, since early 2011.
Overall, the design is much cleaner, and (I like to think) easier on the eye. As I've experimented over the years, some people have commented that this sort of design is a bit sparse – especially compared to the smorgasbord of fonts, colours and styles used in the previous version. I think the new version looks better – but if you disagree, rest assured that, whatever my intentions now, clutter will no doubt accumulate as assuredly over the next eleven years as it has over the past eleven.
Anyhow, please do leave any thoughts or comments you have on the new design. After all, as the designer, it's hard for me to be objective – and the design is, in the end, aimed more at the reader than the writer.