Some years are what I call “PIN-code years”—it’s always the first year that comes to mind when you need a four-digit code because it holds a special place in your heart.
For me, one of these years is 2005. As a naïve 22 years old, I made several big and small quick decisions that shaped my life. I filed for permanent residence status in Canada and my application was approved a few months later. Feng and I eloped to Niagara Falls—we didn’t tell anyone we were getting married and honestly, we weren’t sure it was the right move either. I started a Yahoo! 360° page, then I decided to write a blog on Blogspot.
So next year, I should be celebrating several anniversaries—15 years in Canada, 15 years of marriage and 15 years of blogging. Eh, at least I’m consistent.
I’ve been toying with the idea of redesigning the blog for a few months now. The last big update was three years ago—technology evolves and expectations change. Remember when we had all dozens of widgets in the right sidebar? When we used to display visitor counters? Mile-long blogrolls? Yeah, neither do I. These trends are mostly over. SEO matters because Google is more powerful than ever, long-form content is back, blogs must be mobile friendly, there aren’t enough regularly updated blogs for link exchange like back in the days, and absolutely no one pays attention to useless widgets.
The update process started in the backend. I cleaned and optimized my database, cleared the clutter, renamed and rearranged tags and categories. It started to feel as if I was optimizing my life. For instance, through the categories, I realized I divide life into three recurring “chapters”—Canada (where we work, parent and where I manage to fit in), my writing projects and backpacking. Apparently, I can’t stick to a single storyline—and I think I’m okay with the fact balancing these different chapters of my life makes me happy.
So, I finally completed the backend and frontend redesign project—would have been faster if I hadn’t felt the urge to analyze my life and psychology in the process…
What’s in there for you? Please, allow me to sound like a corporate PowerPoint—faster loading speed, better readability, improved optimization for mobile devices and a new subscription option.
A better focus on readability
I wanted articles to read like short, short stories without distractions and calls for action. After all, words and pictures are more important than widgets.
I got rid of the big right sidebar on single posts and the font is sleeker, cleaner, easier to read (…I think?). Oh, the estimated read time is now included as well, just below the title.
A new design optimized for mobile devices
Let’s put it this way—I suck at using smartphones but even I can read the blog on my device easily. This theme is fully responsive and this is super important because I noticed from the stats that 50% of you are checking it from a tablet or smartphone.
The new “Subscribe” option
Many readers complained they were no longer receiving recent articles by email and that the RSS feed was broken. I implemented a new way service so that you can get articles directly into your mailbox as soon as they are published. I tend to post once or twice a week so promise, I won’t spam you.
I think the “subscribe” form works.
Ahem… can someone subscribe and tell me if it works?
The new “Project” page
In my dreams, major Canadian publishers are constantly surfing the web looking for random people who just happen to have a completed manuscript on hand—because as we all know, queries always fall into a black hole.
Bye bye, Flickr
When Flickr forced users to upgrade to a Pro account last November, I decided to give it a try and paid $49.99 for a one-year membership. After all, I joined in 2007 and this is where I shared all my travel photo sets.
What happened next is just weird—I met the creeps of Flickr and realized the website had turned into a poorly moderated community obsessed with porn (and that many free members were willing to sexualize absolutely everything). Just two hours ago, an innocuous picture of me in Brazil was added to the “sluts with big tits” group. I don’t even have big tits. I’m tired of blocking members and flagging groups since Flickr doesn’t seem to follow up.
I’m deleting my account at the end of the month, when my one-year subscription ends. No big deals, all the pictures are on the blog anyway (and I have backups!).
… and that’s basically it!
I may make a few minor tweaks based on feedback and I hope you enjoy the new design and functions.
Stay tuned! I’m editing a bunch of gorgeous fall colours pictures I will publish next week!