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What I Have Done to this Blog - Wed, 23 Apr 2008

It’s taken me a number of months to prepare the moving of my Behold site to beholdgenealogy.com, finalize the design of the new pages, and do the work to change everything over, starting with my blog. What has taken so long?

Well, like everything else I do, I like to ensure everything works well. You can see that in my definitive ideas towards Behold, and you’ll see it in this new site and especially this blog.

Even though I’m using WordPress as the engine, I’ve done a lot of customization and added many unique features to my blog:

  1. I’ve added a custom login line, that changes to welcome you if you’re logged in.
  2. I’ve designed my own profile page, which is minimalistic and all that’s needed.
  3. I’ve disabled the WordPress “nofollow” policy (I disagree with it) to allow your links to be counted in search engines.
  4. I’ve added a custom field for where you live, which will be displayed under your name if you leave comments
  5. The Registration and Lost ID/Password functions are very different, as they start with an email to you for verification first - preventing junk from robots and spam engines from mucking up the database. I’ve tried to make those procedures as user friendly as possible. I’m very happy with them.
  6. Normally WordPress sends you a random password, and you have to login and then go to your profile if you want to change it. But I’ve fixed it so that you can specify the password you want to use or change to.
  7. I’ve put recent entries and recent comments and a search and archives in my sidebar in the way that I think is most useful.
  8. The search function uses a really nice plugin that highlights your search terms in the results, and I’ve modified the way those results look. Eventually, I’ll get the one search to also search the comments and the forum as well.
  9. I added all my old blog posts (about 600 of them) to the Archives section, and customized the way the archive pages look. I’ve also added blog comments that were in the old Behold Forum to the appropriate post as real WordPress comments.
  10. I added a cute litte weather widget that I really like. This wasn’t hard, and it fits in nicely on the page. You now will see when I’m freezing or boiling.
  11. I customized all the little icons and graphics and linking between the pages
  12. I’ve added an AJAX in-place comment editor. This is my first foray into AJAX which is sort of like a live connection between your browser and the site. It does make the task of editing comments much easier.
  13. I’ve taken out the complexity of assigning categories to posts. I don’t see why I should try to categorize, when all my posts have something to do with Behold.
  14. The hardest thing of all was to integrate and get the Blog and Forum logins working together. This involved figuring out how to do cookies, and it’s a mess in WordPress 2.3. Version 2.5 of WordPress and 0.9 of bbPress are supposed to be better integrated, so maybe I’ll be able to eliminate some of my hacks when I upgrade. By the way, the Forum is almost ready and will be up soon.
  15. And there’s many more things I’ve done both visibly and under the hood as well.

The blog uses my new site design. During the blog development, I also made my final tweaks to the design. This included these important considerations:

  1. I’ve set up my site navigation in a distinctive line across both the top and bottom of each page, and the current page is highlighted with white text on a blue background.
  2. I had a lot of trouble deciding how to style hyperlinks. I finally went with underlined hyperlinks that are the standard blue when not visited and purple when visited, since most people will recognize these without even thinking. But to make them distinctive, they are highlighted with a blue background when you mouse over them.
  3. I settled on a default font size. It is larger that the original design, but still is somewhat on the smaller size. Hopefully you like the look of it.
  4. For those of you who need larger fonts, I figured out how to allow the site to nicely change size properly when you use your browser’s font size changer or zoom tool.
  5. I hate the way some sites look different when you print them, often only including just the some of the text and no structure. So I’ve ensured that mine will look the same printed as on screen.
  6. I’ve tried to eliminated inconsistencies in how the different browsers, mainly IE6, IE7 and Firefox, make my site look. This was not easy as I had to track down solutions to dozens of problems.
  7. I’ve hopefully eliminated all webpage errors as detected by Firefox.

But it’s a relief to finally get this up and to be able to start using it. Hopefully the blog and the (almost ready) forum will encourage a lot of future Behold discussion.

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