Site redesign

So, if you’ve visited the MalcolmHardie.com site today you’ll have seen the new site design.

It’s Blue.

But that’s not all. The layout structure of each page has been substantially changed (for the first time since 2004, I think)
. The new 2 column design is also wider (960px) and offers more flexibility than the old 3 column design. There are new graphics and section headings and a new about page (with a message from me!).
The MalcolmHardie logo has been used in a reversed white on blue form, which I think worked out quite well and the main body is black/dark gray 13px Lucida Grande on a white background. (With Verdana as the second choice)

The content management has also been improved. The whole site is now a sort of wiki. Although it is somewhat static as wikis go. Each web page is now a wiki page that is rendered when necessary to deliver the page. Page expiry dates match the wiki source document expiry and all of the meta-data is cached into a database so that things like recently changed lists can be generated. The next iteration of the system may also cache the text as well.

Apache is configured to serve the wiki pages only after any existing index pages, so the whole thing can be switched to static html without recoding (if necessary).

There were several things that I really wanted to do with the re-design.

The first, obviously, was to get the web2.0 thing going. The first step in the design process was therefore to identify the gradient that I wanted to use. The blue/blue gradient seemed to be a good choice here. Although I didn’t in the end go for reflection or glass effects, several prototypes had glass effects. 😉

The second was to serve html pages as html pages with a .html extension. Which was achieved (mostly)

The third thing was to clean up the arrangement of the site, previously there had been a mix of systems used to generate content from an interesting (but probably obsolete) attempt at a php visual class library, through ordinary php to finally plain html. The new wiki style system is consistent across the site. (I’m hoping that this will last)

Software

The site is written in php and uses a mysql database (standard, boring even!)

I used the PEAR Text_Wiki classes to handle the wiki side of things.

The wiki dialect is Text_Wiki default with extra classes to do php includes and page meta data in the same document.

Things I hope to improve

At the moment there are some limitations to the wiki syntax. This means there are more blocks of raw php and html than I want. Eventually I hope to write some more wiki plugins to reduce this

Another area that could be improved is the concept of relative pages within the site. Currently the wiki links are hierarchical with the full link required each time.

I’m very interested to know if you like the new design. Feel free to send me email or add a comment below.

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