Monday, June 24, 2013

A Few Design Improvements

Old Roads Once Traveled, as you may have noticed if you are more technically inclined than I am, has been my first foray into any kind of website. One of the reasons I chose Blogger as a platform was because, from what I had read in my research, it was supposed to be easy.

And posting is. Once the blog was set up, writing posts was not much different from using a word processor or email. I continue to find new little minor tricks occasionally, but after the first few posts most everything has been easy.

Set up was a little more complicated. While most of it is still click-this-button-to-get-this-design, there are way too many times where right-brain geeks like me have to consult directions written by left-brain techies who use a hundred words to explain what needs to be detailed in a thousands. With step-by-step directions in bullets and highlights in cute colors.

I've tweaked a few things, but there are still a lot of cosmetic issues I'd like to change. The stock background image was okay to start, but Blogger is disinclined to cooperate with any that I've tried to change to. There are a few other options for down the road that I'm trying to figure out. But 80 posts in, I'm a little too chicken to do anything drastic for fear of messing things up. So ... baby steps.

I did manage to finally add two things I have been wanting: a search box and a list of labels. So now you have more productive ways to search the blog than browsing titles by date.

If you look at the top of the right sidebar, you will see the new search box. Actually, I added it last week, tried it out with words I was looking right at on the screen, and it kept replying with "No results." I had already spent all day reading Google help pages written by techies (100 words for a 10,000 word need, no cute highlighting, no bullets-for-dummies), interspersed by the occasional terms of service, etc., written by lawyers (10,000 words for a 100 word need, still no cute highlighting or bullet points), and I was not inclined to spend a year figuring out what I did wrong, so I deleted it. I tried a search box on another blogger based blog and it returned "No results" for words three inches from the box, so I was actually relieved to find out it was apparently not me who was the idiot on that one.

I tried the search box on the other blog again today, and it worked, so I gave it one more try, and so far it's working. So now you can type in what you're interested in and you should get results if it's in the blog.

Below the search box is the archive, which lists everything in reverse-order of publishing date. You can browse by month, or if you want to read straight through, start at the earliest date. At the bottom of each page you will see a link to Newer Posts, Home, and Older Posts. Just click on Newer Posts to read in chronological order.

Below the archive, you can now see a list of labels that I finally figured out how to add. Clicking on a label will bring up a list of all posts tagged with that label.

One other option for navigating the blog is by internal links. When a topic spans several posts, especially if they were not published one right after the other, I will add links to the related posts at the bottom of the page. Also, if I refer to something in one post that is mentioned in another or if I want to refer you to another website for more information, I will insert a link into the text. The text should appear a different color. When you hover over it, it should appear underlined. Clicking on that text should take you to the new page in a different window so that you don't have to worry about navigating back.

There are a lot of upcoming things that I am excited about. To keep abreast of new posts and related pictures and websites, check out Old Roads Once Traveled's Facebook page. Old Roads Once Traveled also has a new Google+ page.

Thanks for reading. And just so you don't have to put up with a whole page of housekeeping text, here's Obligatory Cute Cat Photo #3, which is actually related to some of those upcoming developments, but for now ...

the cat's still in the bag.

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