Jammer's Reviews

2002 Redesign Notes

August 15, 2002

Once upon a time I used nothing but text and HTML in designing this site. Those days are long behind me, but Jammer's Reviews has still not crossed into any territory that should earn me the title of Evil Web Designer (I hope). Quite the contrary — hopefully I've been very responsible and thorough about this redesign. (I hope so, because implementing the changes across every page in the site was excrutiating and took hours upon hours of time.)

The new design represents a complete overhaul, the most significant in this site's history, both in terms of the visual layout and in the underlying infrastructure. (See brief visual design history.) The most important philosophies — maintaining quick-and-easy site navigation and having an eye-pleasing visual design that does not detract from the content — remain. Many things, however have changed:

1. Cascading Style Sheets. CSS has been fully integrated throughout the Web site. If you have turned off stylesheets on your browser, I strongly recommend you turn them back on so you see the right fonts and colors. The <font> tag has been almost completely phased out of the site, except for in a handful of appropriate places.

2. The review text. Nearly all fonts on the Web site have been changed to some form of Verdana. This includes the review text, which, unless you disable stylesheets, is no longer made default by your browser (which for most people was Times New Roman). This gives the site a more current and consistent look.

3. Site navigation and TrekToday/SlipstreamWeb headlines. These have been integrated throughout the site, including on all interior and review pages, taking advantage of the wonderful thing known as Server Side Includes. This will allow you to hop just about anywhere from anywhere — including to the latest posts. Very handy.

4. Bread-crum trail. Every page includes a navigation "bread-crum trail" showing where you are and allowing you to click links back to higher-level pages. Yes, having so many navigation options means some are essentially redundant, but this is good for allowing you to navigate the site whatever way you feel most comfortable.

5. JavaScript. Used very sparingly for site enhancements like image rollovers and randomized logos. Scripting is not intrusive and you should not get scripting errors. It is not essential to have your scripting enabled to use this site, but I recommend it for best results.

5. More aggressive styling. Most notably on the main index, this site has been given a fairly significant visual facelift. There's a higher-tech look to it. A few design cues might remind you of UGO.com. This is intentional, since this site is informally affiliated with UGO affiliate Trek Nation and participates in a limited UGO ad-banner program. At the same time, I tried to combine several elements from the previous design that I still liked, most notably the blue gradient along the left rail — which has become a Jammer's Reviews trademark of sorts — and the same overall color scheme.

6. Simplified interior pages. The graphical headings on season listing pages have been scaled back, and obvious, brain-dead intro text has been removed. ("Below are links to DS9 season seven reviews," to which you would answer, "No s***, Sherlock!")

7. Table mania. The underlying table-based physical layout of this design is much more involved than before. Hopefully your browser is recent enough to render tables as I have intended. Most should be, but results may vary. (Best results will undoubtedly be on Internet Explorer 4 and higher and Netscape 4 and higher for Windows or Macintosh.) As before, interior pages should nicely fill entire browser windows with text. The main index is fixed at 750 pixels in width; I tried a version that automatically scaled to fill wider browser windows, but it didn't work to my satisfaction in Netscape 4 — and, besides, the main index layout was more conducive to being a fixed width anyway — so I scrapped the auto-fill version on the main index.

8. General clean-up. HTML code should be better overall in terms of "correctness" and simplicity. Not quite XHTML, but closer to it than before. Pages like the Overview and FAQ have been revised, and the Miscellaneous Articles section has been slightly restructured. I tried to avoid moving most review URLs however, so that external links pointing to this site will for the most part not be broken.

Other comments:

  • Frames: Jammer still maintains that frames are evil and will never be employed on this site so long as Jammer himself has not become Evil.
  • Load times: Except possibly for the main index, Web pages should load fairly quickly, even on modem connections, allowing you to quickly find the reviews that you hopefully came here to read.
  • Compatibility alternatives: For those few who experience viewing problems or unacceptable download times, the Plain-Text Edition is available, containing many reviews in stripped-down format.
  • To print reviews: Your best bet is to either copy the text from the browser window and paste it into a word processor or print directly from the Plain-Text Edition.

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