A New Website is Born

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DJ / 10 Years Ago

If you had been to this site before the redesign, you must have noticed that it looks a little different. There are many changes, both cosmetic and behind the scenes, and there are many more to come.

In case you do not know what the site looked like before, I will summarize some of the changes. First, and most significantly, I eliminated the frames on the site and implemented a new graphical menu. I used frames before because I did not know that I could use server side includes (SSI) to make menus easier. The menu was a text based Java application. The new menu is a little more obvious, much more colorful, and downgrades better if a person has his or her JavaScript turned off.

The width of the entire content table has been widened to 1000 pixels from 800. I figured most people have monitors that can handle that, and if not, the most important stuff is on the right side anyway. The background is totally different there is only an image outside of all the content. Coloring inside the content is just simple background colors. This helps the page look cleaner and makes it much easier to align. The central table where the recent news is now has rounded corners, giving it a smoother look. A menu was added to the bottom of the page to help navigation without a visitor having to return to the top of the page.

The other changes are more technical in nature and affect the administration of the website versus the presentation. The first thing to note is that the new posts are no longer statically coded into the HTML page. That information resides in a database and is dynamically printed on the page at the server. The same thing goes for the verse at the bottom of each page. That used to be one hard coded verse on each page, but now it is one randomly selected verse from a database. Refresh any page and chances are you will see a new verse as there are 38 of them right now. The blogs are also the same way. Even though this difference is not readily apparent to the user, it will help out with the upkeep of the website immensely.

Those are a lot of changes, but there are many more coming down the pipe. The most important, and most time consuming, will be the upgrade of the photo album to use a database. The advantage of this will be in the time it takes to add new pictures to the site. With a database, it will probably reduce the time and effort by 50%. Also, it will allow a visitor to search for pictures using keywords. It will also allow me to add different pages of pictures by merely creating a new SQL query. There are over 550 pictures waiting to be uploaded to the site, as well as at least a couple thousand sitting in photo albums waiting to be scanned. And that is just scratching the surface of what I want to do.

I put a lot of hours into this redesign, and I hope everyone likes it. I certainly think it is much better. I have slacked on this site over the past 18 months, but that stops now. I cant wait to see how much I will have accomplished in another 6 months. If you have any ideas or feedback, please let me know!


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