Things I Must Change

I’ve spent the last few weeks working on my major project and I anticipate spending the next two weeks doing the same. You probably knew that because of all the bitching I’ve been doing about not being able to work on it from home. That’s a problem which may actually have been fixed now; more on that later. I only bring it up now because it seems that ever since I started this project, a Web application, I’ve become acutely aware of aspects of SoylentRed that need to be updated, fixed, removed, or (re-)implemented. Since I can’t justify working on a hobby application when there’s 30% of my overall grade for this whole course waiting to be earned I’ve ignored those little SoylentRed annoyances for the most part.

I did add a link to the comments in the Atom entries, and I added text to the toggle-comments and add-a-comment links. This may or may not have been an attempt to encourage people to leave comments. I figured the links weren’t visible enough as they were. I seriously have no clue who those anonymous Bloglines subscribers are; if you feel like de-lurking for 30 seconds I’d really like to hear from you.

Anyway, I thought I’d suggest a few of the changes I’d like to make. Maybe I’ll get some feedback. Maybe no-one cares. At the very least it will mean I won’t forget about it all. I’ll start with the visuals. I’m not good at graphics. I try occasionally; I succeed even more occasionally. I would like SoylentRed’s design to be a little better; at the very least to have a header graphic or something. I think the colours could do with a little tweaking too. I may be ever-so-slightly humbled by the fact that half of my blogroll is made up of world-class designers.

Next up, though it’s undoubtedly more important than pretty graphics, is an intuitive user interface. Three things annoy me right now. Entry titles should be permalinks. That’s just how blogs seem to have developed. There are enough people out there on the Web that have seen enough blogs with permalinks in titles that it’s an expected behaviour. It’s not okay not to live up to that expectation. Ditto for the main site header linking to the main page. That’s a Web-wide requirement. Like animated "under construction" icons it’s ubiquitous in this medium. Unlike those icons it serves a useful purpose. Finally, have you ever found yourself at the end of a list of comments wondering where the add comment button was? Here’s a clue: it’s above the comments. Now go find something heavy to hit me with for when I thought up that placement.

A quick reshuffle of the top-level navigation wouldn’t go astray, unlike anyone who tries to use it. The projects link is given far too much prominence considering the fact that it conceals a single barely-supported out-of-development experimental project. That section needs to be expanded or dropped. The atom link just confuses casual visitors. I plan to move it to a new home elsewhere in the sidebar where it will enjoy a peaceful existence surrounded by explanatory text.

Regarding new features you might spend some of the coming weeks (and months, and perhaps years…) looking forward to the addition of individualised Atom feeds for keeping track of comments. Each person gets a feed consisting of comments made to threads that they’ve commented in. That concept is shamelessly ripped from A musing or too much? Throw in optional email notification of replies, a main page list of recent comments, and the ability to store your data in a cookie when you comment, and I’m up to about a 1999 level of user interaction.

How much of this will actually get done is as much a mystery to me as it is to you. I’ve made lists like this before that aren’t finished. I’ll get some of it done before I get distracted something new and shiny. That’s the thing with works-in-progress. They’re never finished.