I got sick of people complaining about the old blue design of the Right Glue, so I decided to make it a bit easier on the eyes by changing it over to white. I also took the opportunity to improve the usability of the site a bit. If you're new to the site, you can see the old layout for comparison.

I want to take the time to describe the numerous changes and why I made them, from an objective usability standpoint. The original layout didn't have any real bugs, but it was full of strange inconsistencies that ran against my ideals of what software should do. Continuing from my Web pages are software rant, I certainly can't allow my Web software to be difficult to use while at the same time preaching that software should be easy to use.

As I have already mentioned regarding elastic-width layouts, the site continues to use the same 60-em maximum width that it had before. In fact, the overall layout of the site is roughly the same as it was before with only minor positioning changes.

The site still works in every browser I have tested (IE 6, IE 7, Firefox 3, Opera 9, Lynx 2 and Chrome) with all kinds of visual differences between them. Using relative fonts, I don't have control over these differences. Moreover, I don't believe I should have control over these differences. It doesn't bother me that "The Right Glue" title at the top is bigger in Opera than it is in Chrome, or that the spacing around the next/previous links are wider in IE than they are in Firefox. Trying to gain that level of control over detail runs contrary to Web ideals (as I've already posted about).

The most visible change I've made is the move from blue to white. I did this mainly to improve the contrast between background and foreground to make the text easier to read in general. Another important thing I did with this colour change is use colour intensity to distinguish between content and layout functionality. Looking at the main page, you'll see that content (i.e. things that I wrote that are different from post to post) are black, while items that are part of the layout (i.e. links to comments, timestamp of the post, navigation links, etc) are lighter. This draws the eye toward the content rather than the layout.

The other important colour-related change is the overall consistency. All non-content items are all the same colour, and all content items are the same colour, within a post. Content links (ones that appear within posts) and layout links (ones that are part of the layout) are the same colour, but have a different visual appearance: content links appear with underlines while layout links do not. This is consistent throughout the entire design but wasn't before. Before, the layout links weren't very visually distinct between regular text.

You may have noticed that the main page no longer lists full posts. Now it just displays the first three paragraphs of the top 8 posts. I made this change to allow new readers to get a once-over of the most recent topics so they can get a feel for what kinds of things I write about and how I write more easily than before. This kind of functionality is somewhat common in tech blogs. It is used, for example, in The Daily WTF.

I've repositioned the navigation links (the ones that say "next" and "previous" in various parts of the application. Before, these links were only at the top of the page for individual posts, and only on the bottom when browsing the archive by date. For example, take a look at June 2008 in the new layout compared to June 2008 in the old layout. In the new version, the links are at the top and bottom, and they're positioned on the left and right sides of the page instead of just the right. Also, the new layout's subtitle (the part that says "June 2008") is much more prominent than it used to be.

With respect to the subtitle, I've tried to make it a much more consistent and useful layout element. Every page view has a subtitle. If you're looking through the archives, it lists the date. If you're searching, it lists the search criteria you're using. If you're searching by date, it lists both the date and your search criteria (you couldn't actually search by date in the old version). When you're looking at the main page or individual posts, it displays a random subtitle from a list. "Some kind of tech blog" is the most common (66% of the time) and the rest are random (33% of the time). I'll probably add more subtitles as time goes on.

I've added some little things here and there, too. Such as pointing out that the name and title fields for comments are, in fact, optional, and a tooltip over the textbox in the archive/search view to further point out that it is there for searching and not just for decoration.

I'm glad to say that the entire blog is still JavaScript free (unless you're using IE) and therefore has no problem being run from mobile devices, text-only browsers and a dead badger with Minix installed on it. I could have made a move toward using AJAX here and there, but that would raise the baseline browser compatibility and as you know I'm quite set against that.

If you have problems with the layout or if you see anything that looks like it might be a bug, let me know via comment and I'll look into it. Otherwise enjoy your stay.