I began work in-earnest late last week on the development of Website 17, and have created a new look-and-feel that I am very happy with (and managed to make it work as a Mambo template). The new site will remain primarily blue-and-gray themed, although I’m bringing back some more color and using some brighter tones to make it more punchy (taking volumes of feedback into consideration ;-)). I’m also reintroducing the classy curvyness that the site lost in the CMS transition from Movable Type to Mambo, now that I know how to do it right within the Mambo template system.

However, the drastic improvement to the look of this site in v.17 will not be the biggest change. I have been mulling some major changes to the way content is organized, and will be implementing many of them (which is why, even though the design is largely done, I don’t expect v.17 live especially soon). I plan to make the entire site more contextual with similar content grouped together and blurble items in the left and right sidebars that more closely relate to each section of the site. In fact, I may implement some of this ahead of the redesign, so don’t be surprised if things go wonky here and there.

Tentatively, Off on a Tangent will have seven-or-so top-level items in a universal menu that always appears in the header. Clicking any of those six items will give you a menu for that individual section (where the main menus are located now), as well as some other contextual information.

For example, clicking the ‘Literature’ item in the top main menu will display a page that looks mostly like the front page but only has Literature items on it. It will have a special Literature menu (with links to fiction, nonfiction, and poetry) on the left where the main menus are now, and literature-only ‘What’s New’ and ‘What’s Popular’ blurbles on the right. Content and blurbles that are not related to Literature would generally not appear at all in this section of the site.

Additionally, some content categories might appear in multiple top-level sections. My opinion columns might appear both under Literature (Nonfiction) and News & Reviews. Joke Songs might appear both under Music and Humor. Etc.

Let me know what you would think of that kind of arrangement!