Designing the Archive and Contact pages was challenging because of the limited content those pages will hold. Normally the challenge is to take a bunch of information and cram it into a limited amount of space in a way that it is usable and easily accessible. In this case, my challenge was to take a small amount of information and present it in a manner that was attractive without looking stark, while retaining the aforementioned usability and accessibility.
Let’s start with the archives. When I had initially thought about this page, I wanted to provide a calendar-like interface that the user could use to select posts from individual days. Then I thought about how I use blog archives. How often do I look at a specific day to find a post? Never. Chronologically, do I post
often enough to justify having archives go down to a daily level? Not really. Would a monthly archive be sufficient? Absolutely.
I have seen some effectively implemented monthly archives, and I particularly liked the way that the archives are laid out on Veerle’s site. I decided to use a form of that, although without the “show all content” and with the more recent dates on the right, as if to emulate a time line. While this navigation will work fine for a little while, I will need to find a way to let users browse posts further back than 4 years ago. As it stands, that’s not currently an issue. Talk to me at this time next year. While it was easy to generate this mockup, dynamically generating this content through WordPress may be a challenge.
In addition to accessing archives chronologically, I also want to be able to access posts grouped by tags. Right now, this is a simple list on the right hand side of the page, but eventually may become the “tag cloud” that has become popular. We’ll see.
Finally, there is the contact page. I want to provide a way for users to contact me via my Web site. I’ll provide my email address (taking care to hide it from spammers), as well as a form that users can use that will drop a note in my inbox. I may eventually need to put a CAPTCHA on the page to prevent spammers from using the form. I also felt that it was important to have a photo of me on this page, so people could actually see who they were contacting. I feel like it helps people connect a little better. I’m not a fan of posting my picture, so it took me a while to find one that was acceptable. I picked one that had a nice distraction in it, too. So hopefully people will look more at Simon than they do at me.I’ve got all the mockups for the new site complete and have started work on the HTML/CSS templates. I’ve also secured the domain name and hosting through DreamHost.com. I hope to have the new site ready and running by the new year, but with the holidays and all the traveling that I have planned, I think that may be overly ambitious. Look for the new site sometime in January.