If there’s one thing that my family, friends and colleagues admire about me, then it’s my memory. It’s nowhere approaching total recall and I occasionally also have lapses of short term memory (Where did I put my keys?), but otherwise it’s pretty good. So I’m not one to pause and reflect on my personal history, because the major events – and a plurality of the minor, insignificant ones – are easy enough to recollect and constantly pop into mind if something happens to trigger a memory or if I just let my mind wander. This year, however, commemorates a big change for Working Author and a significant new page in my personal life, so I’d like to share a few words to mark the occasion.
First, the obvious change is the new layout for the site. When this site was first launched, it was a simple writer’s blog, with a simple blog format. As I syndicated more and more of my freelance work here, however, I became less and less content to file away my reviews, interviews and articles into blog categories. I wanted to have more defined areas for these works. So Working Author made the slow metamorphosis into something approaching an online magazine. This latest incarnation is probably the most magazine-like layout that has ever graced the site, with plenty of gigantic images and an abundance of whitespace.
Readers visiting via PCs and MACs will, of course, have the best experience and get to enjoy all of the neat hover effects, drop down menus and eye-popping featured images topping the articles. However, we are now living in a day and age of smartphones and tablets, and where the majority of media consumption is happening on these mobile devices. As such, online outlets have to get with the times. That means adopting a responsive website design.
What is a Responsive Website Design?
I am not a professional web developer so this explanation is probably going to sound ham-fisted, but it’s basically a web design that accommodates a range of pixel resolutions to create a presentation that adapts to how the visitor is viewing the site, rather than the visitor adapting to how the site is presenting itself. For example, a non-responsive, static site would display in its entirety on a small smartphone screen, forcing the visitor to zoom in to more easily read text and view images. A responsive site, on the other hand, will rearrange and resize the elements so that all the visitor has to do is enjoy the content.
It used to be that websites were only viewed through computer monitors, which generally had common pixel dimensions. So web developers just had to design for the lowest common denominator. Whenever the smallest resolution monitors dropped out of popularity, web developers rejoiced because that meant they had more room to design in. But then the tinier screens of smartphones and tablets entered the arena, and their screen resolutions varied wildly even within their own device classes. Furthermore, device manufacturers were cramming in more and more pixels on devices that still retained the same physical dimensions. That meant a consistent website presentation was impossible. Mobile versions of websites were a good stopgap, but that meant designing two sites for one – and all of the other responsibilities that come with maintaining any site: making sure assets fit, updating functionality, etc.
A responsive design takes care of all of these issues with one method. Working Author now features a responsive design. We’re still going through growing pains and some devices display the site better than others (outside of a PC/MAC, a tablet is your best bet), but, for the most part, the site should be easy to read and enjoy no matter what device it’s viewed on. I personally hope you like it. Let me know what you think!
The second big change is that this is the first layout that I did not code myself. As I said before, Working Author started out as a blog. It was never intended to become an actual entertainment news and reviews outlet. So there was never a need to hire a designer. I got used to coding the site myself. Chalk it up to being a control freak, but I like to do things myself. Not only does doing things myself ensure that I get what I want, but it also teaches me new skills and how to fix the thing whenever it breaks. My first handful of website designs were of course basic and terrible and poorly coded. But over the last six years and change, I became pretty decent for someone who taught himself via online tutorials and reverse engineering other sites. So as the site grew, I just handled the web development like I normally did. And I thought I did a pretty good job. Publicists and talent would compliment me on how professional my more recent designs looked. And it was always a point of pride to reveal that I had designed and hand-coded my site to hiring managers during job interviews.
So it was with a somewhat heavy heart that I decided to go with a professional this go-round. But I am very impressed with the outcome. While I’m sure, given enough time, I could eventually replicate most – if not all – the functionality, I just don’t have it in me anymore. There are other things – more important things – that I need to focus on. Design is great, but content is king, and in 2014 I want to make sure that not only is Working Author going to keep providing the same thoughtful reviews, celebrity interviews and beautiful image galleries that our readers are used to, but we want to provide more of them as well. That will be my personal focus in the coming year.
So, happy New Years to you. Thank you for making Working Author the success it’s been and thank you for joining me on this journey I never expected to last this long.