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Why the relaunch?

by Pascal Opitz on October 28 2008, 07:03

Ok, as Matthias already said, I'd like to give an insight into what has changed in this relaunch, but above all I want to share what we're trying to achieve.

Where we're coming from

If you still remember our old layout in its first version, you'll remember the three columns on the homepage: Articles, Elsewhere and Events. Also you'll remember that at some point the Elsewhere column has been replaced with the Blogs column.

Historically we planned to write long and elaborate how-tos and detailed articles on what we were dealing with in our jobs on a day to day basis. Also we were planning to give you UK related web events in a calendar-like style. Great ideas, both of them, but after the initial honeymoon period we all got very busy in our private lives, and the first thing that we realized was that the Events list was much more work than we expected, with very little interest from our audience. The second thing, however, had a much bigger impact: Our article releases were going down to only a few per year. Not enough to keep anyone reading our output, really.

This is when the Blog section came to life. Replacing the Events list found on the homepage, it enabled us to quickly share some thoughts and observations, without having the "overwhelming" task of writing a proper article. This somehow revived the site's publishing frequency, but since the original layout was article centric, the Blog section seemed a bit ... well ... misplaced.

This is why the main goal for this relaunch was to get rid of the distinction between Articles and Blog. The site is a blog, and everything should be worth reading, no matter how long it is.

Ancient technicalities

Another thing that got to my head, especially, was the fact that the old site was running on a pre 1.0 version of Textpattern. Certain things were never really possible to do, it took quite a toll on the server, the database log took up something like 3GB, and two times we had to move hosting providers because we found out that the small print of their contracts enables them to kick you off their shared servers without warning, even though you neither exceed the stated space or bandwidth.

Even worse, it was really hard to implement new functionality properly, and when we did, we were hacking the system so much that we'd never be able to port it. When we tried to port it over to wordpress, which should be possible when using an newer version of Textpattern, we miserably failed.

Did we do the right thing?

This, dear reader, is something that time will tell. The things to be judged by are the amount of writing we'll do in the future, but also whether you folks out there do like the new look of the relaunch and find it easy enough to use. Also we're planning to slowly jazz it up here and there, and the new Zend Framework based system should make it quite simple to plug new functionality in.

Technical details to come!

Since the sytem is a complete custom rewrite, there are a few code snippets that might be interesting. But this is a pretty long post already, so I'll save writing about the technical details of the relaunch for a follow up post. In the meantime, you can just subscribe to our RSS feed to make sure you're gonna be the first to find out.

Comments

  • I was Wondering why the site was down. Very nice redesign.

    by Dmitry on October 28 2008, 16:54 - #

  • Well, it wasn't planned to be down at all though. But despite all precautions we had some DNS trouble caused by ME! I hope it didn't last to long though, and that noone really really suffered. Apologies.

    by Pascal Opitz on October 28 2008, 19:00 - #

  • I stopped by here some months ago and while like the bubbly colors and design, this one is much better. It's fluid and simple. I look forward to what comes next =)

    by Eva Vesper on October 29 2008, 14:14 - #

  • Nah - thanks to tab-o-mania I just leave all the pages I'm even only remotely interested open and saved within Chrome or Firefox and check through 30+ or however many there are the next time the browser starts. Hail multitasking a.k.a. The most distracting invention since radio and TV.

    by Dmitry on October 29 2008, 14:31 - #

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