Posted by Rex Crockett

We have several new things going on now.

The first thing is we have a new theme. It is based on basic2col. This is a very solid theme with all the modern stuff. In particular, it provides optimization for Internet Explorer. It was designed from the the beginning to be a base theme for for further customization.

All the new code is fully protected by the Gnu General Public License. The right to redistribute will not be denied. However, no support is provided for this code. Use of this theme by anyone obligates no one to assist in any way. Nor is any access to the source beyond what is ordinarily available to users accessing the internet provided or promised. Anyone who wishes to provide support may do so and may charge whatever fees they deem appropriate. No one may contribute code without agreeing, in writing, to at least two witnesses to the above stipulations.

I do not consider the theme done by any means. I would have just as soon kept the old version, fixing whatever problems it had, but it became necessary to make the change because certain parts of it were claimed as proprietary code. This had the potential to become a legal issue and thus threatened the very existence of Art & Perception. Not knowing which parts of the code were considered proprietary, the site had to be rebuilt from scratch using “blackbox” techniques; that is, looking at the result, and writing new code to achieve similar effects.

The results are less than spectacular in appearance but are pretty solid internally. There are far fewer WordPress generated errors. The pages should display more consistently on Internet Explorer. Font resizes will not break the layout.

You will note the sidebar has been re-ordered somewhat based on what is my best guess of frequency of use by visitors. When you go to the comment page on any post, you will see the sidebar changes, and there is more inviting text at the top.

You will also note that above each post it says, “Filed in …”

It so happens that search engines really pay attention to that information. I put it right up top front as a means of encouraging posters to select an appropriate category. Just pick one, no more, and uncheck “Uncategorized.” This is an important SEO (Search Engine Optimization) thing. It will also help our visitors find similar posts.

Classic, tried and true usability guidelines have been applied; for example, the links are all underlined and blue.

There will probably be things you don’t like and things you do like about the new look. I tried to make it all work in a similar way to the old theme, since so many design decisions were achieved through discussion, but I’m sure I’ve missed things, and at this writing, I’m not sure what is broken since I’ve only tested it all off the web on my own webserver.

But I will be online regularly for the next 24 hours, so now is your chance to have a look and test things out as well as give and receive if not immediate feedback, then feedback relatively soon. But please take the time to test a bit. You may find that with just a little familiarity the new design is actually really fast and functional.

In summary, I’ve concentrated on function, not form. I did up the site as an administrator, not an artist. I’ve left my own taste for dark, edgy stuff completely out and went for clean, clear, and simple.

The second thing is the blogroll. Right now we have none, and so we violate the “social contract” of blogs and blogging.

My first stab at doing the blogroll in a fair way was to base the list on some statistical criteria, like:

How popular is the linking blog

How much traffic do we get from them

Well, it’s very difficult to determine how much traffic we get because once someone finds us, they may just come directly rather than from a link on someone else’s site, so there are difficulties with that approach.

Arthur suggested that a fair way to do the blogroll would be to have you all simply suggest two or three links you would like to see. Links that received more than one vote would get bumped in priority.

He insightfully pointed out that the current linking blogs are the present, and if we are interested in the future, we would do better to link to blogs we liked.

I think that’s a great idea, so go ahead and suggest some links.

Third, I may have already given you too much too think about, so further site development ideas can wait.