A fresh coat of paint

I’d been getting really annoyed with my kinda-fragile website templates and some of the accumulated cruft, as well as a bunch of things that were difficult, UX-wise, so I redesigned my site. How do you like it?

One of the big problems I was trying to solve was that people had difficulty finding things. To that end, I changed some stuff:

I’m not sure if the new navigation sidebar is better per se, but it’s at least different and consistent everywhere, so hopefully that helps people to discover stuff.

There’s a couple of sections which I haven’t updated to the new templates yet; notably my short stories collection and my terrible haikus. I’ll probably get to those tomorrow.

There’s a few other overall changes I made, like now the main page uses a much more responsive layout (that’s easier to add more categories to; the old one was stupidly fragile) and also the tiles are sorted by the most-recently-changed categories.

I would like to figure out a way of exposing the alternate browsing views though; right now there’s no way to switch from the count-based pagination to date-based. I’m not sure if I should fix that; right now it’s only directly visible from the comics section but technically date-based browsing is possible from any view by appending ?date=YYYY-MM or the like to the URL (for example, blog entries for this month, or everything I posted in 2021).

And of course, I added full-text search ages ago, which should at least help folks to find what they’re looking for, although I still consider that to be experimental.

Also, on the note of comics, I haven’t updated the templates there at all; for the most part it uses its own independent layout files, but because of how Publ works it’s still possible to poke at the edges and find some very broken stuff (for example, by forcing it to show you the search view), and I’d really like to modernize the HTML on the comic templates and stylesheets so that those work as well, or perhaps write comic-specific versions of the broken templates. Thankfully, the way I refactored the everything template means it actually accidentally works just fine, because the only things the everything template does is loads the index template and forces the view to recursive — which the comic section already is — and it overloads one of the sidebar links, for a section which doesn’t exist on the comic’s index template to begin with (and apparently Jinja has no problem with this). So, that’s a happy accident.

Anyway. This UX is an improvement but it’s also still far from as intuitive as I’d like. There’s a lot of information overload. But there’s also a lot of information. These sorts of things are, like, hard to present in a way that’s clear and consistent without being overwhelming, and I hope that people can at least find the stuff they’re looking for or enjoy wandering around.

I also hope that even with the modernization and cleaning-up of things I’ve managed to keep some amount of personality on the site. Originally I was tempted to just use new.css for everything but I would have almost certainly died inside. I did borrow a couple of designy things from it but, man, this site’s gotta be mine.

To-do items

  • Finish updating the currently-broken sections (short stories and haiku)
  • Figure out how to make tag browsing less of a trainwreck, especially on the blog (perhaps by having a dedicated tag-browsing interface like I’d originally intended to do)
  • Refactor the comic section with modern HTML (and maybe a cleaner design overall), get full-text search working within comics

Longer-term goals

  • Add tags for the many, many entries (especially comics) which are missing them
  • More support for dark mode
  • Figure out a better way to present content-free reaction posts; right now clicking on the reaction emoji takes you to the post being reacted to, while the title takes you to the local page, which feels backwards (but there’s protocol-related Reasons™ why this is difficult to do better)
  • Actually manage to go to bed at a reasonable time


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