2017/10 - Blog update and redesign

Just a quick update to say that I overhauled the design of this website. I remember taking classes of user and human-centered design while in Waterford Institute of Technology, under Dr. Anne Gannon, where I learned the importance of simplicity when designing an application.

If I'm honest, this was an after-thought when I was creating this blog. I mainly focused on flashiness over function, which presented quite a few issues on mobile devices. I had spent a few months developing it, so the user experience did not seem important at the time. There are still plenty of improvements to be made after this redesign (Such as adding https), but I'm confident that a more minimalist, less noisy, more responsive website is better. Where before we had all this:


Followed by a section for my education and work history (both already covered by my C.V.), then an "about" section and finally my contact details. The contact details I was able to move up to the navigation bar to replace the JavaScript buttons that automatically scrolled the user to the relevant section (e.g. the education button scrolled to the education section) and teh about section I simply removed. I considered the "about" section an acceptable loss to achieve this. Since the main page was so compact, there was no need to load JavaScript for fancy scrolling shenanigans any longer. Since I was removing these buttons, and the bootstrap code that I used with them, this has also speed up the website loading time.

The next thing I had to do was remove what I originally thought was a good solution to a problem with blogs that Steve Yegge touched upon in this post. Why would/should you create a tutorial, for example, if it's just going to become lost in a sea of the rest of your posts? And even if you decided that it was a good idea, how would people find it? Julia Evans kind of solves this issue as you can see on her website, and this is the approach I have taken with this latest redesign. Originally, a link in the navigation bar would have led a user to this page:

There were a few problems with this approach...

So rather than have a wholly separate page for organising blogposts, I not only shamelessly stole Julia's favourites idea, but also put the blog posts on the main page of this blog. I suppose technically it was a personal website and blog before, whereas now it is a blog that is also kinda my personal website too. Just... just try not to think about it. Let's just keep calling it a blogsite and not try to figure out semantics! I also stopped with the many many many categories. There was no need for that and it began to remind me of how Jeff Bezos refuses to change Amazons UI just because he likes it that way, despite a useability experts recommendations to remove some of the noise

Anyhoo, now that it takes the user a single click to get to pretty much anything on this website, the user experience has gone up a few notches too (One huge lesson I learned from Dr. Gannon was that the more clicks it takes the user to get to what they want, the less likely they are to continue using the website). This keeps everything nice and simple. You can also play with the Tutorial/All Posts button now too (I have, and it's surprisingly fun). Pagination is another thing I might have to look at, as I've seen how long Julia's blog page is now. If the overall tradeoffs aren't too bad from a speed and aesthetic persepective, I might add it. 

That's pretty much it. New site. Looks neat yes