Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Website redesigned

My poor old website had been in need of a redesign for a long time.

It was created in the days when monitors rarely went beyond 800x600 pixels and some were only 640x480. So web pages were created narrow so users did not have to scroll left and right to view the whole page.

Thankfully, those days are long gone. A website I saw recently reported that as of January 2010 (more than a year ago), 96 percent of web users had screen resolutions of 1024x768 or higher. Many of the popular websites are running web pages in the mid 900s. My new website has pages 910 pixels wide.

How did I arrive at that number?

My primary concern was readability. Looking at text at different widths, I decided to go with a width of 515 pixels. Unfortunately, my RootsMagic creates web pages with a left navigation bar of 15 percent of screen width and text of 85 percent. That means text of about 979 pixels on my monitor. In my opinion, that's way too wide to be readable. It took some creative global search and replace to size the text portion of the pages down to 515.

I use a lot of tables to create my pages and in the table for the main page, the left navigation bar is 175 pixels, column 2 (space) is 10, column 3 (text) is 515, column 4 (space) is 10 and column 5 (another navigation bar) is 200. I started building web pages before the days of wysiwyg web tools like Microsoft Front Page, so I still code my pages by hand using a program I bought years ago called HomeSite (no longer available).

In addition to having to relearn a lot of HTML, I had to learn to deal with multiple browsers. First time around it was Internet Explorer and a little Netscape. Now Firefox is the major player (43 percent of web users) with Chrome and IE in the mid 20s. Unfortunately, these browsers can display pages differently. For example, Chrome and Firefox put a blank line after paragraphs, IE does not. On two of my pages I had lists of items that would have made the pages too long with spaces between them. I had to find some coding that would look the same in all browsers. Well, I didn't have to . . . just had to.

My second goal was to coordinate my web site with my new blog. Therefore, they are both now called "Searchin' for Kin" and the colors are approximately the same. I'm listing my blog posts on my website and I intend to mention new additions to my website in my blog.

If you surf over to http://www.jimgill.net you'll see a blank spot where the descendants of Samuel Martin should be. A cousin has just shared several important sources with me and I need to get those entered into my RM before I create the web pages.

Comments, criticisms and suggestions are always invited and welcomed. If you see any errors or broken links, please email me.

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