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Monday, December 13, 2010

Madville Times Tech Changes -- Suggestions?

In the coming weeks, I plan some significant technological changes on the Madville Times. I'd like your input.

I may be liberal in politics, but I can be darned conservative when it comes to information technology. I'm still using Windows XP. I still set my Start menu to the Classic settings so it looks like the customizations I made on my NEC Ready 120LT when I got it eleven years and two laptops ago.

When it comes to blogging, I've stuck with Blogger for over five years and with the same basic three-column template ("Thisaway Blue" by Dan Rubin with three-column modification by Ashwini Khare, blogger beta templates) for over three years.

I approach I.T. change with trepidation... but I'm ready to do it. Here's what I will change:
  1. The Big Change: I'm going to move from Blogger to Wordpress. I still believe Blogger is superior to Wordpress.com for free blogs. However, as I look at Wordpress.org, the paid Wordpress platform, I am finding enough plugins, coding options, and keyboard shortcuts (yes, the ability to use the keyboard and keep my hand off the mouse is that big of a deal to me) to be comfortable with switching. Doing what I want to do with Blogger would also cost me a couple bucks more a month... and I'm darned cheap.
  2. blog layout changeLayout: I will keep the three-column layout, but I am going to move the main content to the left and put both sidebars on the right (see drawing). That layout lets the main content load before all the links and graphics in the sidebars. That allows you and search engines alike to get the main info first. If you're on a skinny screen, you're less likely to have to scroll to read the main content.
  3. More Layout: The template will change. Fonts, colors, and sizes may switch here and there.
Now let me be clear about what I'm not changing:
  1. I'm still writing. My blog, my voice, my responsibility.
  2. I'm deleting nothing. You'll still be able to read over 4400 posts and over 18,000 comments right here. I'm also attempting to import the full content of the Madville Times into the new platform.
  3. I will still include South Dakota blogrolls and RSS feeds in the sidebars, as well as recent comment feeds, graphics, ads, the tip jar... probably more stuff than a good Web designer would advise. But I think of my sidebars as bookshelves, a South Dakota library for anyone interested. Maybe I'll clear some clutter by creating separate pages, but I still want to feature as much of the South Dakota blogosphere on the front page as I can.
Now I recognize that changing the format of the blog can make folks like grudznick really cranky. I thus welcome your suggestions. What would you like to see me do? Design preferences, widgets you find useful on other blogs, things you want me to keep, things you'd like me to do more or less of (photos? videos? on-site reporting? weather?)... I'll listen to pretty much any suggestion short of "STFU". If I like your ideas, I'll add them to the blog-migration to-do list.

Design, content, you name it—the comment section is open for your thoughts. Or you can send me a private note. Fire away... and stay tuned!


  1. Change is hard for everyone so--thanks for the warning! One item I request you keep the same---please no flashing, twirling or rotating ads in the sidebars. Those things make it almost impossible to concentrate on reading the text in your blog. It might just be me but it would be nice to see you continue with the simple ad format. Thanks!

  2. I would appreciate if you would end the use of avatars (I think that is what you call the little pics by the names of posters). They don't add anything and add an extra click in order to read the blog.


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