Saturday, 5 July 2014

Get the summer look!

Saturday, 5 July 2014

I like to keep Dan's Media Digest looking fresh and dandy, so DMD's been given a lick of paint this summer. While many things are largely the same as before, and hopefully still familiar and easy to navigate, I want to quickly run down the BIG changes:

Sticky Navigation Menu!
The top navigation menu has been simplified to encourage more use, and is now 'sticky' (meaning it will follow you down the page when you scroll up or down). Handy, eh?

DON'T MISS Ticker!
There's a ticker on the far-left of the search bar's menu, which will contain my choice picks of past DMD content. Archived things I hope you've read, from weeks, months, or even years ago!

Featured Content Slider
The most noticeable change is the Featured Content slider at the top of the main column, which displays images and links to recent blogs I'm particularly pleased with. I can add 6 links to this menu, and it will hopefully remind people to take a look at things they may have missed.

Three Columns
The last template also had three columns, but the content was sandwiched between two columns of widgets and ads. This time, content is KING. The middle column is almost exclusively a list of recent blogs, stretching back further than previous templates would allow, and the right-column is now dominated by a 'Popular Posts' widget (the most-read content of the past week). The whole idea is to promote my writing here, first and foremost.

Social Buttons
There are no social buttons visible on the landing page now. You have to click through to something to be able to share content. I think this is reasonable, because why would you share something you haven't read fully? I've also moved from ShareThis to AddThis.. um, purely because the latter has sexier looking buttons I can use. The downside if that I can't get them to actually display the share-counts, but I'm working on that! Nothing's every 100% at launch!

The other changes are more cosmetic, so not worth mentioning here. The most important changes are listed above, and I think they all help to improve DMD and make it a better experience for readers.

Did I do all this wondrous stuff myself? Well, no. Alan Woodward once again helped customise the template I chose, ensuring everything worked and none of DMD's existing features vanished.

I can't tell you how much work and effort Alan has put into this over the past few weeks, while refusing to accept any offer of payment. It's very easy for me to browse for a new template and make (seemingly straightforward) requests for changes, but quite another thing to make all that work.

Fixing one thing tended to break another, and it was a huge headache at times! Alan had to overcome some big problems regarding automatic video resizing (which has reared its ugly head again now we're 'live'), unruly column borders in different browsers, and malfunctioning Javascript, etc. A lot of it goes over my head, so it's a godsend Alan has been so kind and helpful once again. Even if I paid for a template, chances are I'd never get this kind of one-on-one help with a coder. So please, doff your hat to Alan Woodward if you like the changes.. and blame ME if you don't.

Finally, at the risk of getting bad feedback that will ruin my day... what do you think of the new look? Anything a particularly good addition? Do you wish something from the old template could be brought back? Please be mindful that there are some glitches to be ironed out, even though the new template is out of beta-testing and 'live'. But if you think you've spotted something that has been missed, please let me know in the comments below... and, if Alan hasn't collapsed from exhaustion yet, he'll take a look.