These are the plans for the next version of Camen Design.
I was thinking about publishing this on the main site, but decided against that as I have done similarly in the past for previous versions and then failed to deliver everything promised, and in a reasonable time.
This is my personal website so there is no deadline to meet and I do not make changes until compelled to do so, either by need or inspiration. Thus is usually takes a year or more before I tire of the current design and want to make something new.
I thought the forums would be a better place to share these ideas to get your feedback on the current site and any input you have for a new version.
Here are the key issues I'm planning to tackle:
In the first iteration of the site there was simply not enough content to warrant the complexity of having comprehensive navigation and I was cutting as much cruft as possible given that navigation systems in most blogs are benign and pointless. (_what_ exactly does a calendar tell you? Blindly clicking dates is not navigation)
Now the site has grown to a formidable size and it's time to revamp the navigation. There's a few things to address:
* Clearer Next / Prev buttons: These were supposed to be graphical, but I never got around to jazzing them up (I do have a mockup design of camendesign.3 that I should upload). A lot of people really don't notice the article buttons to page through articles. I'll make sure to make these a clear part of a new design
* Index (archive) pages: To begin with I didn't need a long list of article links as I felt that there wasn't enough content and that this put extra steps between users and the content. Now, it's just making it harder to quickly locate an article. I'm aiming to add index pages for each category that list all the articles in that category so that you can quickly scan the list to find what you are looking for. One aspect of this that I am unsure of is that some sections and articles don't have titles, such as quote and photo so don't work as well in a list. (will probably use thumbnails for photos)
:: CSS complexity
camendesign.3 has grown a lot more than expected. I added the source pretty-printer, directory listing pretty-printer, HTML5 figures, iPad support and many more extra bits piled on top of the already complex multi-layered support for printing, Firefox 3 / Camino 2 (lo-fi skin) and iPhone.
Firefox 3 was still very common when I released camendesign.3 but that is no longer the case, so there's no longer the need to provide the lo-fi skin in the CSS and all the extra work and complexity that entails.
What's also happened in the meantime is new browser versions that have native HTML5 support that doesn't require extra hacks as well as greatly increased CSS3 features.
The minimum browser list for camendesign.4 (when it's done) will look like:
* Firefox 4
* Safari 5
* Chrome latest
* Opera 11
* iOS 4
and I will also be dropping as many vendor prefixes from the CSS3 as possible as Firefox 4 and Safari now support box-shadow, border-radius and some others without vendor prefixes. This will diminish the look on older browsers, but then Camen Design is all about targeting the standards and waiting for browsers to catch up (which they are doing).
Also, in what might come as a surprise to some, Internet Explorer will be fully supported. It's as good a HTML5 engine as the other browsers and Microsoft are making an effort to follow the standards so support for my site should come "for free".
I want to greatly reduce the CSS complexity, avoid heavy layering of rules, and reduce the amount of browser-specific code.
It was originally my intention to release the forums as part of camendesign.4, and perhaps even share the code between the two, but I'm glad I decided to do the forums separately and design them for-purpose so that I could get them out to you so soon. Camendesign.4 itself my take several months to finish depending on (mainly) my motivation and what other work I have to finish. I have a lot of work on my plate already and the current site is ticking by fine, considering that it's already leagues ahead of most sites. I think I've earnt the right to relax a little :P
Anyway, please feel free to chip in with any feedback you have on the current site and any ideas I should consider for the next version.