I've spent the last week doing something that's been on my mind a while to do. The last year has seen me spew out a mass of sites based on some basic templates and working practices which, as the amount of projects grows, makes them time consuming to update and maintain.
On top of that, the code behind the templates was very verbose. Whilst it took advantage of CSS to style stuff, it was not well used so there was lots of code making up the pages and table layouts. Over the last year I've learnt more and more about css layout and things like semantic markup - which effect the way pages can both display on devices like screen readers as well as effecting how the page ranks in the search engines.
Wanting to put all this into practice, and thanks to some consistent use of templates and editable regions, I was able to quickly remake the underlying code of my Playing Bingo site. It's now completely table free, so if you take away the style sheet, it collapses to a single old style page.
The lack of underlying code is apparent in the file sizes. The table heavy old index was 12k, the new one only 7k and it has more copy than the old page. And just to blow my trumpet a little louder - all my code validates under the W3C specifications. Unfortunately, the third party code doesn't (Google and AdBrite - shame on you...), but still, I think it's my first page to pass that test.
For those of you still with this post, I've improved my ability to update the news section and RSS feeds by implementing a blogging solution. Before it was a case of manually making up three files and creating my own RSS feed manually. Now with the new and improved UK Bingo News and Blog - it's a no brainer. I've also used MagpieRSS to create automatically updating 'Latest News' includes which is another first. Now it's really easy to update - blog a news story, publish, done. I love blogger.
If that's not enough, I've also shelled out for another vBulletin license to make the Playing Bingo Forum. I'm a big fan of that software now I've got used to it, and seeing how Google loves my Weird Nations forum, despite it being very quiet, the benefits of adding one to the Bingo site pushed me to grab another license and get it up and running. I think the combination of blog and forum should help the site rank a lot better than it currently does - the financial benefits of doing so will become increasingly important.
I think the future months will see me redoing all my old sites to make them work smarter than I was able to before. My portfolio is so large at the moment I need to do it to make maintaining them a lot easier. I'm surprised it was so easy to do this one so quickly to be honest, so there will be a lot more of this to come.
Here's some great topical comedy for you, made all the more enticing and enjoyable by the fact that the people who're the target of the close-to-the-knuckle satire are sat but a few feet away. There's more on the story and background at BoingBoing and the full performance in video below.
I'm not for one second going to suggest Steven Colbert's routine would or could change anything, but it's a brave, very funny and expertly delivered. There's some wonderfully pained looking expressions in the audience. To be honest, I've never heard of Steven Colbert before, but he has some new found respect thanks to this performance. He manages to have some really sharp digs at everyone from Bush, to the press corp who he's addressing. It's an awesome display of irony and pointed satire.
Enjoy the show thanks to the advent of embeddable video. According to BoingBoing, the story's been largely ignored over that side of the pond. Such a shame. You'll need flash to watch these, click on the triangle in the middle and it will play for you.
*Edit* Removed from YouTube - but see it here.