Wil Alambre

May 10th

Navigation, Content, Stylesheets, and Facebook; More Updates On My Site

It's been a busy couple days here on my site. Over the past week, I've been nudging things around, and I'm getting happier and happier with the results. There's still a lot of work to do, but here's a quick review of the changes I've made lately.

Navigation And Content

As I discovered more content I want to add to my site, I found my original five-page site architecture to be too limiting. I had more than enough content on each page, it was actually getting detrimental to try to squeeze in more. So I added sub-navigation to each page, or more correctly, I made my five original pages into five sections instead. Then I just made more pages, as grouped them under those sections logically.

One new page is my links page, inspired by Airbag Industries "Longboard" and Coudal Partners "Fresh Signals". I've been marking links daily over at Visual Lizard, with the possibility that others might be interested in them too, so it didn't take took much elbow grease to echo those finds onto my site as well.

With the addition of these links, I changed up the three columns of recent stuff in the About Me footer of all pages. I dropped the latest blogs list, seeing as that has it's own entire page, it's own feeds, and eventually will have a more prominent place on the homepage. Instead, I swapped it out for the most recent links I discovered; seeing as that changes every couple hours, it fit with my lists of recent tweets and recent songs in terms of frequency.

Another new page is my roleplaying writings, which include some in-character stories I made up while playing in a local LARP, and some essays (rants) I wrote while I was helping to run it. I'm a big fan of roleplaying and the creativity that goes into it, and I'm occasionally proud of some of the things I put together for games I enjoy.

CSS @Font-face

When I first made my site live, I was setting the navigation and all header text with sIFR, a Flash-based typographical solution for the web. One of the decisions I made when rebuilding my site, however, was to try and move it to HTML5 and modern CSS, so I decided to replace sIFR with @font-face. While changing it out, I decided to replace the thin font with the free Days by Jovanny Lemonad instead, something much bolder and much funner. I'm using Helvetica Bold and Arial Bold as fallbacks, so it should still look fine on the iPhone and iPads.

I really like how @font-face works, it opens up so many options, it's a shame it'll be held back by licensing issues. Still, at least we have some options available to us, like Typekit.

Comment Form Correction

Turns out my contact form was still configured for my localhost development machine. I'm not worried that someone wasn't able to reach me (certainly not with Twitter and every other way to get in contact) but it was still a bit embarrassing. A little bit of poking and testing, and it's ship-shape again.

Facebook Commenting

Finally, I got around to adding commenting to my blogs and fiction. I originally was going to integrate my own coded solution, which I've successfully implemented in other sites using the same CMS, but I decided to try out the Facebook Social Plugins instead. As I mentioned before, half the purpose of my site is to use it as a platform to experiment with, and I've been curious about Facebook's Graph API implementation since they announced it.

Integration went fairly smoothly. It only involved adding some Open Graph meta tags, linking to some javascript, and tossing in some short Facebook tags. The whole process took less than half-an-hour, which includes me doing a Google search and reading the brief documentation. When the page loads, it does a javascript call to Facebook to display the form, then it displays any comments already on that page. The only trouble I've found is that the call to return the existing comments can sometimes be very slow (up to two or three minutes)... and sometimes doesn't appear at all.

The upside of the process is that I don't have to build a login, implement any captcha, etc. Also, Facebook user that comments also has the choice to publish that status to their profile's wall, bringing more exposure to my blog article to their friends. If Facebook can better the speed and reliability of the comment-fetching, this sounds like a pretty good deal.

Coming Soon

So what's next? Well, I would like to work on my blogs, links, and feeds more, tying them together. One idea is to provide multiple feeds of separated content, so people can just read my site articles or just my roleplaying articles, for instance. Another idea is to provide a feed that includes each day's worth of links as an extra article.

Also, I really should get on my homepage next. :)