Design Decisions

Design Decisions

While working on the redesign of this site, I made a few decisions early on that I was afraid I’d come to regret. At the time, I figured it wasn’t that important because I could always code the functionality later if necessary. However, now that I’m almost a full month into it, I can safely say that I’m happy with the decisions. Less is usually more.

Comments

Back in 2007, I made the decision to kill comments. (And wow, why all the snark for Dave Winer in that post? What’s up with that?) For reasons I don’t recall, during a period of what I can only assume was some sort of alcohol-induced blackout, I apparently decided to turn them back on in 2009 but, due to some issues with a custom Wordpress theme I’d hacked up, I was never able to get them fully functioning. So this site has been without comments for going on five years now.

Dave and I use comments over at MyAppleAnd.me and they’ve served us well. It fits with what we’re trying to accomplish (whatever that is). We use Disqus and have been fairly happy with it.

But, blackouts notwithstanding, comments have never made sense to me for this site, so they didn’t make the cut when I started writing the new system. It was on the list of things to do, but it was also the first thing I dropped from the list.

Categories / Tags

I used to tag the hell out of stuff, but I never actually used them. I think tag clouds are tacky, hideous distractions, so I’ve never displayed them. I had the logic laid out for a tagging system but ended up ditching the entire idea. I rarely click tags on websites that use them. If I want to know more about a subject on given site, I always use the site’s search function. It’s more intuitive. So tags chased comments down the tube.

The same applies to categories. I only need one category: Awesome Posts.

Archives

Do people actually use these? I can’t remember more than a handful of times that I’ve ever browsed a site’s archive. They’re almost always Year -> Month, and that’s not something I find useful. Implementing it would’ve been easy enough, but why? I have a search feature. I don’t need an archive. Posts are posts and, once they fall off the front page, they exist in this big, searchable, perfect pool of words.

Page 2 or 3 or 9

Once I decided to ditch archives, it was a small step to dropping the 20 Previous Posts » option from the front page. I list the ten most recent posts on the front page and that’s it. Anything else has to be found via the search function. Simple and to the point.

I did, however, keep the next/previous links on individual posts. Looking back on it, I don’t know why. Honestly (and weirdly), it never occurred to me to remove those. And now that I think about it, I might ditch them moving forward. It’s clutter that doesn’t add anything to a given post. I mean, if you’re reading a post about Agenda, do you care that the previous post is a complaint that the Mac App Store still hasn’t implemented wish lists? I can’t imagine a scenario where this would be relevant.

Twitter Feeds

Yeah, no. This was something I had on the Wordpress version and it disappeared almost as quickly as comments did from the to do list. Don’t get me wrong. If you like having them on your site, that’s awesome. I didn’t like it on the old version so it didn’t stand a chance on the new. My primary complaint boils down to distraction. My website is not my Twitter page. I have a link to my Twitter account on the website. If you want to know what I’m saying on Twitter, click that link.

So much of that argument feels like you kids get off my lawn, but there it is.

Overall

As I said at the outset, the driving idea was less is more. I wanted to reduce distractions. When someone hits one of my posts, I want them to be able to easily and comfortably read. Minimal distractions. Less in the way. More reading.

I’m not 100% thrilled with the overall design, but that’s completely on me. I need to learn more CSS. I need to spend time with HTML5. I’ve been doing some light reading on responsive design. I’ll get there eventually. Some day I’ll wake up and think “Wow, I really like my site.” Until then, I’ll just keep on keeping on.

Minimize distractions. Less is more. Keep on doing that.