About danrasmussen.org - Design Decisions
I've put a great deal of time into this website. It does things that I wish more sites did, such as:
- What browser are you using? It doesn't matter - the site works well for everybody. However, those of you using recent, standards-based browsers such as Firefox 3 and Opera 9+ are in for a treat.
- I didn't make you watch a Flash video to get here. You can copy and paste straight from the site, or increase the text size if you're sitting far from the monitor.
- You didn't have to type "www." to get to this URL. But if you did, it still worked.
- Every page address on danrasmussen.org is reasonable. That is, it's easy to write down. You might even be able to memorize it. You didn't need to type in .html, .asp, %20, or any other nonsense.
- I've used descriptive link text. There are no links on my site named Click, Here, Click Here, or More. Good link naming makes text easier to read and makes it easier for readers to guess where a link points. Link titles help make it even clearer.
- In Firefox and Internet Explorer 7+, you can use your browser's search box to search everything on danrasmussen.org. More about this site search, plus a screenshot.
- Microformats. Say you're on my Contact page. You want my postal address in your address book. You could copy and paste every bit of information from it into the appropriate fields your address book. Or, your web browser can inform you that the page contains special information, and you can save it as a VCard for easy importing into your address book.
- Multiple style choices for viewing the site. None of them except "Print View" were necessary, but they're fun. A good place to start learning is zvon.org's CSS Tutorial.
- Access keys. Learning is loving. On danrasmussen.org, except for the pages in the Library section, "T" goes to the top of any page, "J" and "K" cycle through the site. I've set up other shortcuts as well. Yes, they're consistent.
- On newer browsers, it's possible to page through this site by hitting the "previous" or "forward" buttons, or using a shortcut (perhaps "alt-right"). Brought to you by the <link> tag.
- File format choices. Don't own Microsoft Word? Adobe Reader not installed? Or you'd simply rather not wait for it to load? I'm with you on that last one. PDF is best avoided on the web. See how I handle file formats.
- Someday, I'll explain why you ought to use XHTML. For now, I'll present some links: XHTML @ NYPL and Better Living Through XHTML.
- danrasmussen.org is easy to navigate, in part due to breadcrumbs. That's the name for the line of text that tells you where in the site hierarchy you are. More about breadcrumbs.
- I validate my code.
danrasmussen.org - About the Look
danrasmussen.org has a *lot* of alternative styles. Each of them took some time to make. Why did I bother? Mostly, because it was a good learning experience and it was fun. I wanted to show off a bit. There's another important reason: most of the styles are bold. They're polarizing. Most people really like a certain style, or dislike it. "Night Vision" is hard for some people to read. I could have simply made a more generic default style for the whole site, with softer colors and less contrast. If I were designing a site with a wider audience, that's the route I would recommend. However, as this is my own personal site, I did what I most enjoyed.
My Website To-Do List
I've already done some web development automation. I want to go further, though: I would like to automate some of the tasks that are important, but which, because they slow things down a bit, I don't do as often as I should. A script to run through these tasks every x days would be neat-o. I'd be excited to hear any recommendations.
- Spell check every page on the site. Not only text, but attributes such as link titles and alternate image text as well.
- Validate XHTML and CSS - do everything at once, only report back on errors.
- Link checker - make sure I don't have any dead links
The Making of danrasmussen.org - Tools and Services Used
Subversion and Bazaar make sure I don't botch anything irreversibly during development. Things got much easier when I discovered Meld, a tool for merging code and viewing file differences. WorkRave forces me to avert my eyes from the screen and get up and stretch from time to time. When pages are ready for preview or the whole world, rsync ferries the files to the server. My personal sites are hosted on Dreamhost, which I can recommend. Then I sit and wait for the trucks full of money and appreciation to come piling in.
Page last updated: October 01, 2012.