From time to time we update the structure or template of the blog. Generally we don't pay a whole lot of attention to the structure because we aren't trying to make money but we certainly do like to take advantage of new features. Recently I changed
"the most important site on the internet" Drunk Bear Fans over to "dynamic views", a new technology that Google invented (they own Blogger, the platform that this runs on) which is really cool (in theory). Using dynamic views the right edge (where we have items like labels / categories, posts by year, and authors) is "hidden" until you mouse over them at which time they pop out and you can click through. This gives you more room on your main page because those side elements only pop out when someone wants them and they don't take up screen real estate all the time. Alas, Google hasn't worked out all the bugs and Dynamic Views often failed to load up in certain browsers in a reasonable time frame and wouldn't come up on Dan's cheap old windows laptop at all. So I switched Drunk Bear Fans back to regular views (for now) until Google gets their act together. Along with this upgrade the Google editor has gotten funky and now you basically need to know some HTML (like the code for line breaks) or else your paragraphs all run together and generally look like crap; this only happens on certain browsers and configuration and is generally a minor annoyance that I am sure they will fix, eventually.
One of the best things at this blog is the pictures that Gerry selects and puts on top. This is great and highly appreciated and we don't want to do anything to cause Gerry more work or impact his ability to do this.
Categories and the "Cloud" View
Since Drunk Bear Fans is our test bed I started looking at some of the features. For labels I thought I'd try out the "tag cloud" approach which I think is pretty cool, probably because I am way behind on the latest web technologies. I switched our categories over to the "cloud" view just for grins (and put it back), struck by how many were "random". I started going through the randoms and there were lots of themes that I could pick up. One project I am considering is re-tweaking the categories like I did at Drunk Bear Fans but the task is WAY more daunting here at LITGM because we have way more posts on a wider variety of topics. Dan did this one time a few years ago and he talks about it to this day as a major pain in the rear so if I took that one up I'd be on my own. I might do it nonetheless.
Blogger has some pretty cool mobile features. I like looking at the blog on my iPhone and you can see a shot of it down below (ignore my industrial strength non-cool case). The pictures come up which is good along with the start of the post - on Word Press (the other platform we use for some sites) the mobile theme is not quite as cool in that you don't automatically get pictures by the post title.
Over at DBF I started playing around with the site width. In keeping with the DBF theme we kept the old site pretty simple and severe. When I changed to dynamic views I also went through every post and took the picture size from "medium" to "large" since pictures represent most of the "content" over at DBF. Originally under dynamic views the side bars were gone unless you "moused over" them but then when I switched it off I was wrestling with how wide to make the site in total, to get this room "back".
I found this post which discusses site width today and we are near 1000 pixels across (more or less) and this seems in line with other major sites. As people start viewing sites with larger monitors and more screen resolution this likely will go out further in the future. On the other hand, if people are looking at sites with newfangled devices such as mobile, tablet and then even on their TV through items like their DVD player, then you have to figure out what audiences you are trying to target, at all. Kudos to Blogger and Google for finally making it easy to check and adjust site width without having to tweak HTML code.
Mobile User Growth
I was going to put up a "poll" about how visitors use this site (also an excuse to try the new gadget) when I realized that, duh, if I just look into the statistics I can see where visitors come from. Sure enough almost 15% of our total visits were from iPhone, Android, and iPads. I guess that is the future. I don't have an iPad so I will check it out on someone else's to see how it looks.