Chris Roberts

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

• Posted in Life

Well - here we are again. About 19 months have passed since my last post and I find myself launching a new blog.

Whilst the previous incarnation was based on a platform of my own devising (an excuse to learn the then-new ASP.NET MVC platform), this latest incarnation is based on the Umbraco content management system (CMS).

There are obviously many advantages to using a fully-fledged CMS rather than a clunky, albeit basically functional, homebuilt system. My main motivation, though, was to try and encourage me to spend more time on the content and less time on the platform.

This has been a reasonably successful endeavour so far. Given the limits of the time available and my own skills I opted to make use of an 'off the shelf' Bootstrap theme which I have subsequently tweaked. I built small extensions to my previous platform to transfer my posts into Umbraco and comments into Disqus. The result is a responsive, visually pleasing site which is easy to maintain and provides a good deal of control over any comments which may get left for me.

Unfortunately something has been lost in translation. In my eagerness to make use of a shiny new platform and make things look pretty, it wasn't until I launched the new site that I realised I had made a fundamental mistake. I completely forgot to consider the user - what a rookie! There's a reason the new theme looks nice and clean - it doesn't even include paging controls!

So - the new site is here, but it's missing many useful navigational features. In the coming weeks (who am I kidding... months) I'll need to add paging, a search tool and various navigational improvements to help people find useful and related content. I'll be going back to the drawing board and thinking properly about my requirements. I'll wireframe the various navigational elements and then enlist some help to create a great looking design which meets my needs properly.

In other words, I'll be going through the process I help my clients through every day of the week, rather than trying to cut corners!