I’m pleased to announce the launch of a new major revision to Off on a Tangent, bringing the site to version 23.0. As always with major revisions, there have been a lot of obvious and not-obvious changes. Here’s a review of the most important updates:
- New Look: My major revisions always come with a new look, and this one is no different. I’ve added a chunkier banner and other visual refinements to the header, and darkened the overall palette quite a bit. The site is also tightened up width-wise. I’ve also added a ‘bio’ to the bottom of each page, so users coming in from search engines can get an idea of who I am. In addition I have tweaked the advertising placements in an effort to minimize their intrusiveness (without undercutting their effectiveness). Overall, Website 23.0 is intended to be a simple, straightforward, classy site that works well on traditional desktops and laptops, as well as on tablets and smartphones.
- Home Page ‘Features’ Area: At the top of the home page, you’ll find a new ‘feature’ areas. At launch time, this area has three ‘focus areas': politics, faith, and liberty. Each focus area has links to the five most recent Off on a Tangent posts on that subject. This area will be changed now-and-then to reflect the site’s areas of focus as they shift, and will occasionally be replaced entirely (especially around elections) with a dedicated special-coverage area.
- Mobile Detection and Redirection: With the proliferation of tablets and smartphones, deciding which version of the site to show people has gotten quite difficult. With the last major site revision (v. 22.0), I made the decision to offer the ‘desktop’ and ‘mobile’ versions of the site on different URL’s and allow users to decide which they want. This is still the default behavior, but if you visit the desktop site on a device with a small window/screen size or if you are using a browser on a mobile operating system, the site will display a prompt offering you the mobile version. You can choose to have it always redirect you automatically to the mobile version, or to dismiss the message and never see it again (on that device . . . at least until you clear your cookies). If you click the ‘Desktop Site’ link from the mobile site, or ‘Reset to Defaults’ from the settings menu, this auto-redirect behavior will be reset to the default and you’ll be able to access the desktop site again.
- Tablet Support for the Desktop Site: I’m initiating official support for the desktop site on two major tablet web browsers: Apple Safari for iOS and Google Android Browser for Android. What this means is that I have tested the desktop site in these browsers and it works well, and if you find any bugs in those browsers I’ll do my best to fix them. Previously, these were considered ‘mobile’ browsers and, although they handled the desktop site pretty much okay, I only officially supported them on the mobile site. You can of course still use the mobile site (which is also supported) in these browsers, if you prefer.
- Note: There are a couple known issues with tablet support that I’m planning to address either on-the-fly, or in future minor revisions, as time and technology permit. First, the drop-down menus are quite finicky on tablets (which is not a problem that is unique to Off on a Tangent). Second, tablet users are prompted on whether they want the mobile site (since there’s no good, reliable way to differentiate between tablets and smartphones). I’m not sure if I should consider this a feature or a bug. . . .
- Technical Improvements: Less obvious to the end-user, I’ve made a number of technical improvements to the site. The quotes and photo-bar cycles pause when they are not visible to reduce processor usage, mobile redirection is handled in a more transparent way, the static site functions (e.g., maintenance page and live-blogging) have been streamlined, and more.
As always with major site updates, there’s a chance that something won’t work right. There have been a lot of changes and there are sure to be some issues here and there. If you find any problems (in any of the supported browsers on the About the Site page), please contact me and let me know!