Site Anniversary the Sixth

Another year, another anniversary for cvillenews.com. Since I celebrated last year by doing absolutely nothing, this year I’m partying like it’s 2005 by making some changes.

Software
The site is still running WordPress, the software that I switched it over to two years ago now, and I couldn’t be happier about it. But now I’m using the K2 modifications to it, along with a series of plugins to provide new functionality.

Features
It’s the major new features that I’m geeked about.

  • Sideblog: In the top of the center column there’s no space for really brief blog entries that really don’t merit a full write up. Though I’m mostly interested in using this to regularly link to Charlottesville blog entries that I want to promote, I imagine I’ll end up abusing it for all sorts of things. These entries are carried in the RSS feed, too.
  • Elimination of Registration: Originally, anybody could comment. But 75% of people posted as “Anonymous,” and some behaved as if they were anonymous, too, thus demonstrating John Gabriel’s now-classic theory about anonymity. This created a lousy community, and I ended up requiring registration. Now that most folks likely to read cvillenews.com are familiar with blogs, and know not to behave like feces-throwing chimps, I feel pretty good about letting people post a comment as they would to any other blog. If I end up being wrong about this then I guess I’ll just go back to how things were. I anticipate a much higher participation rate with an open commenting system. (Note that this makes the site newly subject to comment spam. If you post a comment and it doesn’t show up immediately, it’s just caught in the spam filter. Don’t worry, I’ll rescue it.)
  • Flickr in the Sidebar: I’ve been wanting to make Flickr images of Charlottesville more widely available. It just annoys people when I include them in Charlottesville Blogs, so now they’ll be in the sidebar here. If you want your pictures of Charlottesville to show up in the sidebar of cvillenews.com, just post them to the Charlottesville Flickr group.

K2 provides a series of minor quality-of-life improvements to the site, too — better access to archives, improved searching, and some clever little Ajax-y elements.

Design
Every page on the site is now ridiculously wide. But, honestly, it’s the only way that I could pack everything in. It’s structured so that you can have a narrow browser window and see the basics — the main blog entries, or make it a bit wider and see more, or make it fully 995 pixels wide and see the whole affair. I really love having the canvas at the top for a random photo to appear. At the moment I’ve just selected a dozen or so photos that I’ve taken around town that seem nice. I hope to take a bunch more photos to stick up there, and maybe get some other people to contribute images, too. (If you’re interested, it has to be 995 pixels wide by 200 pixels tall. If you want a credit, put it in tastefully small white Verdana in the lower right-hand corner.) The layout is a bit goofy in some of the sidebars right now, but a few tweaks should settle that.

There’s nothing major here, but I think it’s a good step forward for the site. The more that this site is a community pastiche — such as Flickr photos and local blog entries — the happier I am.

29 Responses to “Site Anniversary the Sixth”


  • I like the new layout.

  • It looks good here — for those of us with larger resolutions, wider is better!

    In the about section above, it says this site was started in March of 1999… wouldn’t that make this the eighth anniversary?

  • Uh. Well, yeah, it would, if I had an above room temperature IQ. That should read “2001.” I’ve fixed it now.

  • Finally! The insanely wide, annoying to take through security laptop I have has a use!

    The site looks great, Waldo.

  • I’m with Dean J! More. Is. Better.

  • My screen is 1680×1050, and I just figure everybody else has a much, much smaller screen than I do. Maybe not so much any more, eh?

  • The current layout is definitely an improvement over the old one. I like it a lot. That being said, maybe it’s worth considering moving the side blog all the way to the left, have the text in the middle, and have the sidebar on the right.

  • Dang.

    I want a sideblog. I like the wide layout a lot. I need to widen hburgnews.

  • Hey Waldo: I can’t read through to the bottom of anything and take action. I read this entry & had to scroll back up to the top to make a comment. I read all the entries on page one & had to scroll back up to get to page two. I have an smaller screen, so I appreciate to layout — no left/right scrolling to read an entry, but I don’t think even a taller screen would help me vertically…

  • Looks great. More information on a wider screen. It works.

  • Great work! It has been neat to see the growth of this and the other community blogs.

  • I can’t read through to the bottom of anything and take action. I read this entry & had to scroll back up to the top to make a comment.

    I’m sorry about that, Elizabeth. Would you please either post here or e-mail me information about what web browser you’re using? Mac/Windows? Firefox/Internet Explorer/Opera/other? Do you know what version?

  • Waldo,

    In IE6 under Windows XP the 3rd column content is forced below the content of the 2nd column.

    Like the new look though.

    Travis

  • From an advertising perspective, since I’m one of the main ones advertising here, I’m a little disappointed that the ad box has been moved below the fold, underneath an About blurb that could likely be put elsewhere without any adverse effect. One of the main reasons I advertised here was the high visibility of the ad — that has certainly been decreased. By far, I got the highest click rate from the old cvillenews site, ahead of online ads on c-ville, The Hook, Daily Progress, etc. I’m hoping you consider swapping that and the About box position, as it is now, I imagine that the clickthrough rate is going to plummet.

    From a user perspective, it seems good, and honestly I’d probably be happy that the ads are less visible.

  • Looks good cruising on dialup with images off in Firefox, screen at 1024 x 768.

    On the home page, to leave a comment you do have to scroll back up to the title of the article, like Elizabeth said. I think that is new.

  • I like the new look. More is better.

  • From an advertising perspective, since I’m one of the main ones advertising here, I’m a little disappointed that the ad box has been moved below the fold

    I guess we’re back to the matter of the ginormous screen. :) On my screen, it’s above the fold, and I think it’s at least partially above the fold for everybody, but you’re right that it’s not entirely visible to everybody. I’m not done arranging those sidebar items (which is good, because they look terrible right now), so I’ll take that into consideration while shuffling things around.

    On the home page, to leave a comment you do have to scroll back up to the title of the article, like Elizabeth said. I think that is new.

    Ohhhh, now I understand. You’re right, that is weird and bad. I’ll have to move that comment link to the bottom.

  • I like the new look.

    Regarding the “Flickr” on Cville Blogs- It was annoying to me because when I was trying to catch up on community blogs I don’t want to run across 50 photos of someone’s baby which wound up in the feed because they were tagged Charlottesville. There is just no way I find some stranger’s kid as enchanting as they do.

  • Waldo,

    I’m on 1024×768, and I see the blue “Advertising” box and the first line of the ad.. barely anything at all. I guess it’s “technically” above the fold, but .. you know what I mean. Thanks for your consideration, looking forward to placing some more ads shortly.

  • I will pile on with more love for the new design here, Waldo. Well done. I will also chime in with the others who think the comment link at the bottom of the post works better than at the top.

    And not that anyone asked for my opinion (oh, lordy here he goes) but what is up with WordPress and the really tall banner images? You could hack 60px off of your banner, still see the awesome banner photos and pull Chad’s Ad up “above the fold”.

    Again, looks great, Waldo. Thanks for doin’ that voodoo that you do.

  • I agree about ridiculously tall banner images. On the previous iteration of the site I was using the default WordPress design, with the one modification of hacking the stupidly-tall header down to something substantially narrower. The enormous header this time around was actually a deliberate choice. Not only do I want that to graphically impart a good amount of information about the site and Charlottesville, but I love the idea that it could be used for more. For example, wouldn’t it be cool to feature some of the best images from the Festival of the Photograph in that header in June? Or to invite people to submit their own images of what most represents Charlottesville to them, and run those? Or have a month where only images from pictures taken by kids in Lighthouse are shown?

    Making the header as small as possible makes perfect sense when it’s perfunctory. But I’d like to make it something meaningful, an area of the site large enough to make it a canvas for photographic expression like the rest of the site is a canvas for textual expression.

    Now I have to get off my ass and actually do that. :)

  • Making the header as small as possible makes perfect sense when it’s perfunctory. But I’d like to make it something meaningful, an area of the site large enough to make it a canvas for photographic expression like the rest of the site is a canvas for textual expression.

    Ha! Ok, you have won me over. Let me know when I can submit my images for consideration!

  • cville_libertarian

    Been too busy to drop by much lately, but the new look is fantastic!

  • I have no experience with POSTING on blogs, but have a question–hoping this is the correct way.

    Anyway–I heard from a very reputable source that UVA may have bought the Blue Ridge Commons apartments. Their intention is to build yet another parking garage for the hospital.

    Besides being a potential nightmare for those that cannot afford Cville housing prices, one would think this would be a PR nightmare for the school.

    OH, my mistake I took UVA to be an organization that gave a damn about it’s neighbors.

    Does anyone know if there is truth to this rumour?

  • Time for one nitpicking criticism — why don’t you lose the justified paragraph setting for the blog entries? From a typographic (and readability) standpoint, there’s little (or no) advantage in having lines justified on both sides. It causes inconsistent wordspacing and loose lines and makes reading more difficult. (Sorry, it’s just one of those things that annoys me. ;))

  • Yeah, justified lines nearly always look like hell in HTML. I’ll add that to the to do list.

  • Happy Anniversary Waldo! I dig the new look; you are THE MAN. Looking forward to the 2004 party!

  • Well, I still kinda like the old default template, but I can see why you’re doing this. I agree with the comment made by Gugel way up there that the body text should be more distinct from the sideblog and sidebar. I’d like to see the sidebar on the left, the sideblog on the right, and maybe give each a light grey background to set them off from the body. Just some thoughts.

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