Monday, July 15, 2013

My Retro Site

I originally constructed my web page about seventeen years ago, using a low end construction program. I currently maintain it with the free editor included in SeaMonkey. From time to time, some friendly person offers to redo it in order to bring it into the 21st century, which I gather involves Cascading Style Sheets, pull down menus, and a variety of other functional and/or ornamental features typical of current web sites. 

So far I have always declined such offers on the theory that the page works fine as is, I want to be able to maintain it myself, and maintaining a more up to date page would require spending time and effort learning how to do it. But I'm curious about the views of other people, in particular people who both read this blog and use my web page. Would a more up to date version be significantly easier and pleasanter to use? Alternatively, should I let it stand as a living fossil, showing the new generation how the (virtual) world looked back at the dawn of the Internet age?

24 Comments:

At 10:14 AM, July 15, 2013, Anonymous Tom Crispin said...

The tools that you use are a matter of personal preference. But adding "click and drool" to a functional website is not an improvement.

 
At 10:15 AM, July 15, 2013, Anonymous Francesco said...

I find the page to be informative, clear and full of link for the interested reader.

Simple pages maintained by their authors are more likely to: (a) reflect the thoughts/ideas organisation of the authors themselves (and not of their web developers), (b) lead to federated web structure (with all the benefit of such a choice).

If I were to nitpick, the W3C validator found some errors in html. You could ask someone to fix them for you, without you having to change your editor of choice to edit the page.

 
At 10:15 AM, July 15, 2013, Blogger Shaddox said...

You should always keep the old site around for old times' sake, but I like the idea of a visual update with a link to the old site. Also, I don't know exactly what sort of help people have offered, but there is a plethora of content management systems (CMS) that make maintaining modern websites easy and smooth. WordPress is a prominent CMS aimed mostly at blogs, but there are dozens of good ones out there.

 
At 10:44 AM, July 15, 2013, Blogger Noah Siegel said...

It's easy to find information on the site. The simple layout is even easy to navigate on a mobile device. I see no reason to "update."

 
At 11:57 AM, July 15, 2013, Blogger Lex Spoon said...

Ask for an example first. There are a lot of ideas about what constitutes good web site design; the only way to know what one person has in mind is to look at a sample.

If you use a modern content management system, I'd expect you get a web site that is easier to browse and provides information more quickly. They'll put you more in the driver seat about what you want to emphasize and how you want to categorize your online life.

I don't think usage stats are cool to post any more. They're cool to have available to the author, but it's hard to imagine what visitor to the site would be meaningfully informed by them.

All this said, I also am using an ancient hand-written web site. I don't think many people go to personal vanity sites, so there's always something that seems better to do.

 
At 12:59 PM, July 15, 2013, Anonymous Laura Dickerson said...

I rarely visit it, but I think the retro version is fine, and is lacking many of the objectionable features that appear when people try to gussy up their simple sights.

 
At 1:00 PM, July 15, 2013, Anonymous Laura said...

Ack! sites.

 
At 1:03 PM, July 15, 2013, Blogger Power Child said...

Your website is simple to navigate and moderately easy to find things on. It's nice not just because of the "living fossil" aspect, which many people find interesting, but also because it conveys something about your personality and values.

Whenever I see the websites of people who are active online in 2013 but have easy-to-use websites that look like they haven't changed much since the late '90s (e.g. Bill Buxton, Steve Sailer) it gives me a sense that their priority is on content over style, and that for them, form serves function. This is observable on their websites, but projects onto them as people too.

If you updated to a sleeker look, it would make you seem concerned with the modern and the fashionable.

Just something to consider.

 
At 1:06 PM, July 15, 2013, Blogger Power Child said...

PS. That isn't to say I wouldn't recommend changing anything. Your website could use some streamlining in terms of content only. I.e. refine the way various topics are organized, perhaps moving some things from your home page to other pages reachable by hyperlink, etc.

 
At 1:22 PM, July 15, 2013, Blogger Maurizio said...

I think if only it were black on white, it would be fine. The colors are painful.

 
At 4:37 PM, July 15, 2013, Blogger Tibor Mach said...

David:
I find the websites of most academics to be like this. Probably for the same reasons (got set up early on and they have better things to do than updating it). I've got accostumed to that and now I see it as a kind of a "style", including sometimes chaotic hyperlinks that are not so easy to find. Black and white would be a better choice of colours though and that wouldn't require any learning on your side. And of course the webpage can be redesigned by html only, without css so that it would be more organized (with links to books and articles grouped together for instance).

By the way, I risk damaging my reputation perhaps by posting the upcoming hyperlink, but here's another webpage of an early internet user programmed by herself, which also shows "retro" features still,although one would hardly find any similarities in the content between your site and hers :)

http://www.asiacarrera.com/

That woman is interesting though. She is a former pornstar with IQ 150 or something (and a member of mensa) and apparently quite "crazy" from the usual point of view.

 
At 8:09 PM, July 15, 2013, Blogger John David Galt said...

It's your call, but let me put in a word of support for old-fashioned, non-feature-loaded, fast web sites. My own sites are all that way and I'm not planning to change.

I discuss why in the comments here.

 
At 7:25 AM, July 16, 2013, Blogger Phil Birnbaum said...

My own website is plain black on white, and I've been wondering the same thing. I'll be reading the comments with interest.

 
At 1:00 PM, July 16, 2013, Anonymous Kid said...

The usability of your site could almost certainly be improved by a redesign. I find it hard to read and hard to navigate.

However, a redesign does not necessarily make it any more usable. It could just make it flashier and even harder to use.

If you get a good designer, it may be worth giving a try.

 
At 3:05 PM, July 16, 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

bro can you make it black and white, right now the colours BURN my eyes after a minute.

 
At 7:12 PM, July 16, 2013, OpenID farkasdilemma said...

Blue background + blue hyperlinks = ?

 
At 1:12 PM, July 17, 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't care about the design but your site definitely needs a menu + informative categories to structure its content.

 
At 7:17 PM, July 19, 2013, Blogger Ed Kless said...

Time for a refresh.

 
At 7:54 AM, July 20, 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My advice would be to keep the site's appearance with few or no changes, but to update and streamline things "under the hood" - or to have your volunteer expert do that for you. In particular, move as much styling information as possible to a style sheet (or possibly to more than one).

 
At 12:47 PM, August 01, 2013, Blogger mcd said...

The colors are horrid but easy enough to change. CSS is old, simple, easy to learn, and, most importantly for your purposes, easy to maintain. I would not install a CMS; Blogger is doing that for you well enough.

While I sympathize with the urge to keep it light and simple, even retro, the danger in not redesigning your website for the times is that when people see the site they'll think it hasn't been updated for a decade, either. Also, content grows over time and needs more organization than it did when first you posted some of it.

 
At 8:36 PM, August 11, 2013, Blogger Czar of Dance said...

I would like to see your non-blog content better organized. You have great content below the surface; I think a more up-to-date website would make it easier for readers to find such content.

 
At 8:36 PM, August 11, 2013, Blogger Czar of Dance said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 8:25 AM, August 17, 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think updating your web page is probably a good idea. Right now, it is pretty simple but I think a more visually stimulating and maybe a bit more exhaustive page would be very useful to anyone wanting to learn more about you and your views. I particularly enjoy any talks you give that are video taped.

 
At 3:16 PM, August 23, 2013, Blogger Gerald Loosehelm said...

I like your website as it is. It is very readable and it does, at least in guys as old as I am, gives a sense of nostalgia.
My vote is to Leave it as is.

 

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