Monday, July 16, 2012

Time for an overhaul.

Anybody remember that banner?

We're coming up on four years of Exfanding Your Horizons, and if you remember that banner, there's a good chance you remember what the blog looked like while that banner was up--almost exactly how it looks nearly four years later. Aside from some minor tweaks and updates here and there, Exfanding has retained the same basic look and feel since August 2008--which is both a comfort and a curse.

As you may know from posts like this, this, and this, I am of the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" school of thought. Exfanding, like many other blogs and websites, functions perfectly well the way it is. Exfanding, unlike many other blogs and websites, has fallen behind on everything from search engine optimization to the width of the reading pane. Without making any exact measurements, I can tell you we offer 20-40% less horizontal space for viewing images and reading text than anything currently on our blogroll.

I taught myself just enough HTML to get Exfanding to look the way Alex and I wanted it--sort of a comic book panel layout, adapted from one of Old Blogger's preloaded templates ("Rounders," if you're curious). Over time I've tinkered with the sidebar, requested updated banners from my Photoshop-inclined wife, and fiddled with that box at the very bottom of the page that nobody knows is there. Alex has been amenable to all of my changes because (a) he's a laid-back kind of guy, and (b) he has no idea how to undo the changes he doesn't like.

To be fair, I have no idea, either--aside from adding and removing the traditional holiday snow widget, I've jury-rigged things so hard under the hood that I can't change anything but the sidebar and banner and forgotten bottom box without completely retracing my steps to figure out what the heck I did in the first place.

After some discussion and consideration, this seems like the right time to give in to the trend of everyone completely overhauling their websites. The difference is that we'll respond to your feedback when you tell us the new layout is terrible, instead of hiding your comment even deeper behind more mouse clicks.

So, please pardon our appearance for the next few hours, or days, or weeks, or...however long it takes us to get this right. More streamlined and professional on the surface, and easier to manipulate below the surface--that's all we're going for. We're open to suggestions here, so please don't hesitate to let us know exactly what you think (constructive criticism preferable, but we'll take what we can get)!

For the benefit of readers catching this post after-the-fact, and for the sake of posterity, here's what the blog looks like right now (assuming you're not catching this post after-the-fact)--click to enlarge:


TMNTgrl25 said...

This reader likes the new layout. The wider reading box is nice without being too big, and everything feels familiar enough that I can still find it without going 'huh? where did *insert section here* go?'- yet somehow streamlined.

JoeReviewer said...

In terms of "what is where and how big", the new design is great. The only thing I don't like at this particular moment is mostly the abundance of grey and white. If you could incorporate more of the contrasting yellow and blue into the rest of the site, like you've done with the top bar. That right there is perfect.

But yeah, a few graphical touch ups and this is a perfect new design. Good luck getting this together, since I know it can't be easy!