Summer redesign 2014

It is summer and everything is fresh, green, and alive! Time to breathe some life into the blog’s design! Can you guess what my favorite color is?

This post serves as a colophon for the changes I have done. I think I will make an actual colophon page at a late time. Now, on to the technical meat of to the new site and design:

The front-page now takes advantage of multi-column layout and shorter excerpts to surface more posts. An effect of the how the column module works also helps resurface some older posts to the top of the page. In the old design, you could read half the post right from the front-page. Unfortunately, no one ever clicked on anything except the top story because it was so massive. The front page should be a place to discover new posts.

Individual posts have gotten a big and colorful header containing the post title and a short lead. Taking their intended job back from the front-page.

The topics page should be a bit more interesting now. The new page takes great advantage of multi-column layout. A handful of tags are now marked as featured. There will also be a search field on the tags and archive index pages within a few weeks. I am of course writing a custom search-engine to handle the task. (Its the only way too maintain the high level of privacy I want for my visitors and its too fun a project to outsource!)

Like everything I make, the design is responsive to whatever device you are using. There is no mobile site or separate code for various devices. The multi-column front-page will reflow and fit onto any device. Pages should even print okay.

You can compare the new design with the old design by visiting the Internet Archive.

The site should be smaller and much faster to load. Not that the old site was not already faster than most sites on the web. The old and faithful Apache webserver is retired in favor of NGINX. I took the opportunity to make some prettier and more helpful error pages.

I used to use Piwik for visitor analytics. However, their JavaScript based tracking code were very inefficient and slowed down page loading time considerably. I now use the excellent server-side log analyzer GoAccess instead. Both are self-hosted and more privacy aware alternatives to hosted solutions such as Google Analytics.

As for browser support, the site should look gorgeous on everything newer than Internet Explorer 9 (multi-column only in more recent browsers such as Internet Explorer 10). Internet Explorer 7–8 and other browsers from the same decades get a stylistically simple but fully usable version with reduced whitespace and colors.

All versions of Internet Explorer on Windows XP and some other ancient browsers are technically incapable of accessing the site. This is an unfortunate side effect of the site’s reliance on secure server name indication (TLS SNI). Frankly, I am glad there is a technical excuse not to support the truly ancient browsers.

Please let me know if you spot any problems or have any feedback!

Update (): The aforementioned colophon page is now live.