inessential by Brent Simmons


Radio UserLand 7.0b3 for Macintosh is up!


You may notice that this site looks different. It's based on the MinimalWhite theme. I found myself wanting something spacious and simple. The old design was starting to feel claustrophobic.

Content management is still magical to me; I'm still amazed at how easy it is to change the look of an entire site. If you were doing websites five years ago, then you remember what it was like to have 50 pages open in BBEdit and doing multiple global find-and-replaces to change the look of a site. Is there anyone who still builds sites that way, I wonder. I hope not.

Update: Jim Correia reminds me that BBEdit had then and has now templates and includes -- in other words, it didn't have to be so difficult, even back in 1995. So I'll make a different point -- part of the advancement of content management is education of Web developers. My question should be re-worded: are there any Web developers who either don't use, don't understand, or don't see the value in content management? Even BBEdit -- a wonderful tool that I continue to use daily -- had basic content management features back in 1995. Clearly its developers saw the value in content management.

In response to the re-design, Garret asks: "does anyone really use the links on the left side? because i use my site as a 'gateway' for my surfing, i couldn't do without them. but does anyone else ... ?"

I found that I didn't use my left-side links for surfing. Furthermore, they didn't reflect all the sites I go to. For instance, sites like blivet and ViewFromTheHeart weren't on there, but I go to them every day. I started to see off-site links as something more political than useful, so I dropped them.

By political, I mean that they could send unintended messages. If I don't link to ____, is it because I don't like that site or that person? If I used to link to ____, but removed that link, people will make up theories as to why I did it. I don't want to think about this stuff, it's a total distraction. Since I didn't use the links anyway, they're gone.

Most of my weblogs surfing is driven by the Updates page and Weblogs.Com.

P.S. To answer Garret's question more directly -- I don't use Garret's left-side links either. I don't use anyone's left-side links. That's just me!

P.P.S. It was only recently that I discovered -- Sheila showed me this -- that the dog and hand-with-wand icons on Garret's site are meaningful. It's not Garret's fault I didn't know that -- it just points out that other people aren't as good users of one's site as the creator is.

A certain type of user filters out graphics. I do it without thinking about it -- I don't see graphics, unless they're renderings of words. Why?

1. Years of surfing has taught me that graphics are usually a boring corporate logo, gratuitous prettification, or an ad.

2. When graphics are meaningful -- they're icons of some kind -- I despair over trying to remember what they mean. I can't even do this with apps with toolbars -- I can't tell a copy icon from a paste icon without consciously staring at it for a few seconds. Even in apps I use all day long every day. If I can't do it there, I certainly can't do it in websites I go to.

This is not criticism of Garret's site -- it's a wonderful site -- but just to further explain why my site is the way it is, why it works for me.

To be utterly clear -- I don't mean to suggest that Garret should change anything. His site rocks; it's an excellent site. It would be a mistake for him or anyone else to change their weblog to work the way I would design it.