New Web Site Enhancements
Saturday 27 July 2013 — Category: Miscellaneous
As the number of photos and blog articles on this Web site continue to increase, it becomes correspondingly more difficult to find the specific content you are wanting to see. According to the real-time statistics presented on the last half of the About page, my online photo gallery consists of 3,557 pictures organized into 119 albums. In addition, there are currently 267 blog articles (including this one!). All of this makes for slightly more than 4,000 pages of content as of today — and that number is only going to go up!
So I've spent the entire last week furiously programming this Web site, primarily adding new content-filtering features as well as enhanced keyboard navigation. In today’s article, I will give you a brief tour of these new and improved capabilities.
On many pages of the site (but not all) I have added shortcut keys which perform the same function as clicking on a link. Following the established conventions of user interface design, I have underlined one letter of the link text, which indicates which key to press on the keyboard in order to follow that link, as you can see in the menu at the top of this page with the underlined B in Blog, the A in Albums and the S in Search. I've also used this convention on submenus on some pages, like this example from the Blog Articles Index page:
filter category | most popular | show by dateThis keyboard navigation feature makes it a lot quicker and easier to get around the Web site, as well as to perform various commands, like sorting and filtering lists of albums and articles. Give it a try yourself as you browse the content of this site.
Even though I have grouped the 3,500-plus photos on this site into more than 100 albums, I had still been thinking for quite a while that it would be really cool to be able to interact with the photos based upon which camera was used to take them. So I added a system-wide ability to filter the photos by camera. As you can see from the camera filter dropdown list to the right, all of the photos on this site have been taken with eleven different cameras so far! And I don’t think it would be unreasonable to assume that a few more cameras could be added to that list in the not-too-distant future.
On the Photo Albums Index page, choosing Olympus OM-D E-M5 from the camera filter dropdown list, for example, will cause only those albums which contain photos taken with that camera to be displayed — whether an entire album was taken with that camera, or if there is only one such photo in an album. When you click on the Description, Contact Sheet or First Photo links next to an album name, the currently applied camera filter on this page will be carried forward to these three linked pages. The Contact Sheet page allows you to apply or remove a camera filter as well.
For the Blog Articles Index page there are two new additions. When sorting the articles by category, you can now limit the listing to a single category. Clicking on the filter category link opens a pop-up menu with a list of all the categories to choose from, as you can see in the image to the right. By limiting the article listing to a single category, it’s easier to focus on just that section rather than having to wade through the clutter of all the other categories.
The other added feature on the Blog Articles Index page is a brand-new grouping of articles by series. There are some blog articles which belong together as a series on the same topic, but they can be spread out over time (days, months and sometimes years) and even over more than one category. Although the index of articles can be sorted by category, it can still be difficult to track down all the articles which belong to a particular series. For example, choosing Sony α55 & α77 Cameras & Lenses from the series filter dropdown list (see image to the left) will cause 15 articles — scattered across multiple years and categories — to be listed, all of which relate to the chosen filter topic, in the order in which they were written. There are no sorting options nor category filter options available when filtering by series.
Taken together, these three new filtering features make it easier to focus on the photos and articles you are interested in at the moment, amidst the great abundance offered on this Web site. And the addition of enhanced keyboard navigation facilitates getting around the site quickly and easily. I've really enjoyed the challenge of figuring out how to add these features to the site, and I am enjoying using them too — I hope you will as well!
Not all of the improvements I've made are easily visible from the outside — I've also been working behind the scenes to correct errors in the database. For example, to my great annoyance I discovered that there were still nearly 400 old photos in the database that didn’t belong there. They were left over from the photo albums on our family Web site when I first created this current photo Web site about two and a half years ago. Because those photos are still displayed on that other Web site, they for sure didn’t need to be in this site’s database, so out they went! Whew! I felt better already!
I also tested the more than 2,600 unique links on this Web site, found the ones that were bad, and fixed them. That’s a lot of work, but I wrote a program to do a lot of the checking for me, so that all I had to deal with was the much smaller number of bad links which needed to be replaced.
So between all of the outward and inward improvements, this Web site is now in tip-top shape and shouldn’t need any more major work for quite a while. However, you never know when I’ll have a brainstorm and come up with another exciting addition that I just HAVE to implement. In that case it will be back to the furious programming!