Pardon Our Dust!

If you visited the blog over the weekend, you may have been surprised at what you say. That’s because I’ve decided to undertake a long-overdue site redesign. I have three goals in undertaking this redesign:

  1. To cultivate a space for beauty. Beauty and truth belong together. In the words of Pope Francis, “In every age the Church has called upon the arts to give expression to the beauty of her faith and to proclaim the Gospel message of the grandeur of God’s creation, the dignity of human beings made in his image and likeness, and the power of Christ’s death and resurrection to bring redemption and rebirth to a world touched by the tragedy of sin and death.”
  2. To enhance readability. It doesn’t matter how good of a theologian you are, or how great a writer, if people don’t read what you’re writing. This applies in a special way, as here, where many of the posts are long and detailed. I want a place where people feel at home, and want to read long posts.
  3. To increase the impact of the blog. Three new features have been added to promote recent blog posts: (a) the scrolling bar at the very top of the page, (b) the “slider” of recent posts right below the title, and (c) the sidebar with thumbnails and the beginnings of several recent posts. All of these have the same goal: if someone comes to this page to read a particular post, this creates an opportunity to grab their attention and get them to read about something else that they might not have even been looking for.

    Additionally, some of the most important topics covered here (right now: arguments for the existence of God, and for the Catholic teachings on the Eucharist, Mary, and the Church) have permanent buttons for anyone who might have questions on those topics.

This redesign has been hampered by two factors: I didn’t have a clear sense of what I wanted, and I totally lacked the technical expertise to get there even if I did. Fortunately, several people came to my aid: Matthew Reed, Doug Beaumont, Cara Hansom, David Bates, and several people on Facebook had helpful design suggestions. Daniel Carr, a seminarian for the Diocese of Greensburg, is a computer whiz and helped to fix all of my glitches. Jess Rezac and Brandon Vogt gave me a clearer vision of where the blog needs to be going long-term, and how to get there (for example, eventually migrating over to WordPress).

There are lots of smaller things that I hope to tweak or improve. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you. What works? What doesn’t? Do you find it engaging? Is it too cluttered? Any suggestions for what to add, remove, or change?

And don’t worry, regular posting will resume tomorrow. I’ve got a post on the covenantal case for Catholicism lined up for you, so be sure to come back now, ya hear?

12 Comments

  1. I liked the old banner with the quote on it better than the new one, but I do like this blog layout better. I think the only thing that you could make better would be the background . I’m not sure it works.Side note—two major applications submitted for law school (Charlotte and Catholic)! I’m mad though; I sent Charlotte and e-mail with a TYPO in it (a repeated word). I bet I look like an idiot right now. Sigh. Jesus help me.

    1. Erica,

      I did the exact same thing after a job interview: I was nervous about my follow-up e-mail, and as soon as I sent it, I realized that I had a typo that I’d overlooked. I like to think that these embarrassing mistakes are a way that the Holy Spirit (a) closes doors that need to be closed, and (b) keeps us humble.

      I.X.,

      Joe

      1. Hello Joe, I really like your post specially three goals in undertaking for redesign. Since I am Embedded Hardware Design service provider and working with my team at Teq diligent company. I like to forward this three goal with my team. Thanks for sharing here.

  2. I realize that you are still working things out so feel free to ignore if your in process of…but your home, about, and so forth tabs are annoyingly at the bottom. I like tabs all in the same spot. The top. It’s a bit like the toilet paper question for me.

    Also I agree the background is a bit much. For blogs with a lot of text, I prefer to have less background. Pictures in the back work better for mommy blogs, imo. The pics for posts is always a good idea.

    But to round it off and sound less grouchy (I blame it all on the fundies I’ve been encountering over an article about the Pope baptizing babies *sigh*), I do like the updated layout. It’s much easier to comb through your blog for certain tid bits (particularly lately when pointing out that infant baptism is fine if not ideal).

    Feel free to read the above like a frazzled mother with one eye twitching because she’s said the same thing 10 times already and people refuse to explain what the meaning behind certain Biblical passages mean except to quote other scriptural passages at me. Patience is not my strongest suit.

    1. Deltaflute,

      Good ideas (and sorry to hear about your other Internet troubles). The footer buttons don’t currently work, but when I get full functionality, I hope to have home and about buttons at the top *and* bottom of the page (sort of splitting the difference?).

      As for “less background,” I chose something a lot less busy and a lot more Catholic. What do you think?

  3. This isn’t specific to the new site, but since you’re asking for feedback…. Love the site, been reading it for years, but clicking the ‘comments’ link for any post always jumps to the end of the comments rather than the beginning, as if the first thing I want to do is post a comment, when what I really want to do is read the comments that have already been posted.

    On the new layout the ‘comments’ link for a post is now at the top whereas it used to be at the bottom. That means I have to scroll back up after reading the post rather than just jumping directly to (the end of) the comments. As you noted, some of the posts are quite long, so the comments link back at the top feels less usable than at the bottom.

    Overall, I like the update. It feels up-to-date and a bit more sophisticated, or organized, or professional. Keep up the good work!

  4. howdy, I love the new site.

    maybe just change the style of linked text in all posts and pages to stand out a bit. it currently looks like the rest of the text.

    maybe a underlined blue or something to let people know the text links to somewhere.

  5. I liked the old format better, but I have yet to EVER see a single person, organization, or news source return to a previous format, no matter how many people complain about changes. Why this eternal compulsion to “improve” what ain’t broken? But, hey… it’s your site, and I love the content. Please don’t try to improve that!

    Do miss the old format, however.

  6. Thanks to everyone who commented. I’ve slowly incorporated many of the changes you’ve proposed (most recently, switching the hyperlink colors back). Well, more specifically, I haven’t made these changes. I’ve been helped out by two other seminarians: Dan Carr, who I mentioned above, and John Lamansky, an Iowa seminarian who used to work at WordPress (making him help with a Blogger blog is some sort of penance, I think).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *