Those of you who read this blog in a feed reader probably haven’t noticed that PastaQueen.com got dressed in a new blog design last night. The reasons for this are explained in the next post. Like any renovation, it took a lot of work and even more time. Unlike other renovations, I had to say up until 1:40am to get everything working. Now that it’s up, I want to give you a tour of the changes and new features.
The left sidebar is dedicated to widgets. The first one is the new “Follow me” section which links to my Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, and Facebook pages if you want to follow me outside of this blog. My last 3 tweets also appear in this box so you can keep up with my micro-blogging.
Better archives and search
Previously, you could only view a complete list of my archives or scroll forward and backward via links on individual entries. You can now view the complete text of all my entries for one particular month on one page in chronological order. For those of you browsing the archives, hopefully it will make the trip a bit easier. The search page also features the full text of a post instead of just an excerpt, so it should be easier to find things.
I used to have my blogroll on a separate page, but now I’ve moved it back into the sidebar. I’ve also added some of my favorite sites that have nothing to do with weight loss. Three sites from each list are randomly displayed every time the page is loaded, but you can also view the entire list if you wish.
Random Amazon links
The product links in the sidebar also rotate randomly, so those of you who were sick of viewing my Pilates DVDs every day will now only see them every fifth day or so :) I’m going to try to update this section with albums, movies, books and other items that I am currently enjoying so it doesn’t get stale.
The footer now includes a tag cloud which shows the most popular tags I’ve attached to entries. It also proves that, yes, food is indeed the topic foremost on my mind, right after exercise, running and weighing-in. There is also a new site map of all the pages on the site.
Improved weight stats on their own page
I’ve moved my weight stats out of the sidebar and onto the weight loss page. I’ve also added a graph of my weight loss.
The page for each post now contains a list of up to six other posts with similar tags. I didn’t think you could do this in the Movable Type blogging software, but I found a code snippet here that let me do it.
My own comment style
I’ve added my own special visual style to comments left by me, so they should be easy to pick out.
You didn’t really need this stuff anyway, right?
I upgraded the blog to the latest version of the Movable Type blogging software. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to configure the comment notification plug-in that lets readers subscribe to email notifications of comments to a post. I’m looking into a replacement, but for now that feature is gone. You’ll have to check pages manually, sorry.
Also, when I upgraded I had a big database error. So, instead of doing a traditional upgrade I had to export and re-import the blog data through the blog software. The result of this – all the old nested comments no longer appear to be nested because that data field was not exported. Oops! This only affects old entries, so if you reply to a specific comment from here on out it will appear to be nested.
I think that covers everything. I’ve got a list of lots of other tweaks and improvements I’d like to make, but those will trickle in as I have time. I sure am glad I’m a web developer because there is no way I could afford to pay me for this redesign. I also wish I was a plumber and an electrician. I always forget how much time and work something like this takes. I hope you like it. If you run into any bugs, leave a comment stating the error and your operating system and browser. Or you can email me using the contact page.
ETA: No, wait, that doesn’t cover everything.
I’ve added callouts in the middle rail linking to two of my featured series, Lick the Produce and my half-marathon training posts. I wanted to bring these series to the attention of new readers, or to regular readers who are looking for inspiration.
I’ve ordered the site so the content column loads before the ad rail or the widgets. This should facilitate faster loading. The ads are hosted by external scripts, which means they sometimes take awhile to load, which used to delay the whole site from loading. It’s like when you and a friend are going out. You’re all ready to go, but your friend is in the bathroom, doing her makeup, checking her hair, changing her clothes, holding everything up. That’s how the ad scripts can be. In the old site, you and your friend were leaving in the same car so, you had to wait until she was ready before you could leave. Now, you both have your own cars and if you’re ready to go, you can leave and let your friend catch up with you later once she’s done primping.
I also wanted to thank everyone I have worked with at my latest job this year. I’ve learned a lot from you guys and this site redesign is better for it.