I am considering a radical redesign

blue metal tool

I am considering a radical redesign of the site. This change will aim to bring user content (forums, your blogs, groups, etc.) to more prominence on the front page. It will also aim to make user profiles much more dynamic.

My thought is to make all content a block (main content being a big block and secondary as smaller blocks). This will layout much like the present user profiles do with smart scripting that organises the page so everything fits pleasingly.

To do this, I would make use of Masonry JS (the thing that lays out user profiles) as a foundational design principle. On top of that, if you keep scrolling you will find related and connected content summaries to choose where you go next. The idea is that there is always something interesting to follow from every page.

This would not be a small change. I will have to code from scratch custom templates for the social, blog, news, forum, and profile elements. Then I would also need to create something to generate the blocks for related content in a way that does not slow the site down.

It may take me a long time and will be a lot of work. Especially as I will try to optimise the whole thing for slightly more speed. I always want things to be faster. Faster means nicer to use.

I have been thinking about this for a week or two. This could breathe some new life into the site. I hope to create a system that prevents any one given source from spamming the front page. Certain high-profile groups can add a tonne of headlines in a very short amount of time. My new template system will count out repeated content of the same type and differ displaying in favour of other content. This would spread out similar content and give a broader selection of possible interesting news and updates.

If I am feeling especially spicey, I may try to have it so that what you see on your Author Buzz is (to some extent) customisable by you. Or, at the very least, tailored based on your preferences and group subscriptions.

Will this happen? I don’t know. Will it even work? I don’t know that either. I may have to simply create a new theme and then let you decide if you like it. If the design works and you love it, it will be the new blogs’ default theme and will be available for all existing blogs. For as long as new blog registration is open which will not be forever – I have another big idea which will be better but more on that once I have figured out how to make it all work.

Talking of consistency, this design will also aim to make blogs (like this developer’s blog) look and feel similar to the main site. This will happen if (and only if) I can create a design you like that is available to everyone.

First, I will try my hand at this lighter, faster, more modern look. Starting with a design palette. A colour set that best expresses the community ideas of Author Buzz UK. I will be taking suggestions on the subject of colours. Leave your thoughts on colour choices in the comments.

As part of this deliberate new design, I would like to create a logo and use this to create a more consistent look and feel. I am open to user submissions and art. If you feel like contributing, your offers will be considered. The forums are the best place for all of that.

Finally, I will aim to make user profiles as findable as possible in search results and social media. That requires a lot of semantic underpinning. This just means that I will add markup so that search engines, social media, and all that can more easily understand what and who the page is about and the relationships between them. After all, the whole point of this site is to make authors and books easier to find for readers.

Thoughts, feelings, ideas, requests, and questions – please leave them in the comments.


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