Bitter Grounds Magazineespresso fueled ramblings
Haven’t made a lot of design changes to the structure of the site in the past year or so. I’m happy with the category changes and removal of a few posts that no longer interest me. I have made a major change to the old diary part. It’s relabelled “I’m getting too old for this shit” to reflect a few thoughts I’ve been mulling over the past year. It also reflects my sentiments about the world at the moment.
One huge change is coming – a new addition. I’m preparing a web portion for my computer consulting business. With so many people looking for on line support, I thought it was time to bump things up a bit. I’ve also diversified what services I offer and the site will reflect that. When it’s ready, I’ll add a line to the navigation bar.
I’ve also removed the Onesignal notifications. Drop down and popup notifications have increasingly ticked me off when I look at websites. I’m thinking of creating a chimp mail style notification when new stuff is posted. That way there’s no nagging “JOIN US” message. It will be opt in only.
I am playing with a new design idea. I’m not sure yet, but something a little less retro feeling. The current design has worked for me, but my mind set has shifted. Might make changes to reflect that. I’ll keep you posted.
Tweaking a few things again. Not happy with the original graffiti style footer so switched it up a bit last week. The new black and white silhouette footer still needs a bit of work to make it more readable, but I’m much happier with it.
I’ve added a new way of following the website – OneSignal. You’ll see a small red bell pop up in the lower right corner asking if you want to follow the site. This will push notifications to your device or desktop when a new article is posted. I like OneSignal because I don’t have to collect email address/names etc. Some data is collected, but the user remains anonymous so – tap the bell.
Just indulged in a complete overhaul of the site. Still a ton of work to do. I debated about how long to keep the site off line and decided I’d get the bulk of the work done, put it back on line and then finish up editing the old content live. I’m also madly setting up a couple hundred 404 redirects because I also restructured the website. I had to get rid of all sorts of legacy categories and references that dated back 4 or 5 years and caused an immense amount of confusion.
- All remnants of the old “they asked what?” have been removed. Content is being redirected to Memoirs. A few have been deleted because link backs are no longer working, I’ll work on a 404 page explaining it later. Not too many hits on a few of the pages, so no urgency.
- Streamlined the photo category to purge old references to outdated ideas/software
- Sorted the tech section. More content is where it belongs, in the tech | software area. Also relabeled to reflect the content better.
- Deleted old articles dealing with very outdated tech, software.
- Deleted very old content from early days when I was still casting around for a focus. The content was ok, just no longer fits the magazine format. I’ll keep the articles, just for nostalgia and might periodically dig deep and repost them as a retrospective look at the changes
- installed a plugin so my Instagram feed now runs on the photo section
- preparing the Mapping TO page, link isn’t active yet. Will be in about a month (June 2018)
- The biggy – completely changed to look of the site. Finally able to breath a new life into the format so it has a more magazine feel and flows much better.
A lot of the changes were made to make it easier to create content. I was tired of struggling with Joomla. I loved the software, but had grown increasingly tense everytime an update came through. I test things offline and was concerned about how often an update blew away my child theme (not supposed to, but the updates often did) or created a pig’s breakfast of a mess with the database. Many thanks to Corey for his tip off re: Divi themes for WordPress. Has completely changed the way I’m working behind the scenes.
Feb 02 2018
New year; new look. It was time to retire the cat icon. I’ve used it for nearly 10 years now and it felt tired and old. While I was away, (see Memoires for explaination) I rethought a few concepts. I decided the site needed a more personal look – a stronger identity. So, the photo of me having a pint of ale in a pub in London seemed to do the job. It’s an older photo but I have so few photos of myself and had to dig deep for one.
Upcoming changes: Sometime this spring I’ll introduce the new section – Mapping Toronto. Reworking Dear Donna. I’ve reorganized the short story and finished it but needs fixing on the site. Will likely remove the contact form in the coming weeks. It served a purpose for the first year, but in the last month I’ve seen an uptick in spam.
Sept 05 2017
Tidying up a few loose ends here and there. Cleaned up the sidebar clutter that had been driving me over the edge everytime I looked at the page. Also rewrote the About section – brevity is our friend this month. Filtered out all the noise and posted the essential bits and pieces.
In the process of creating a small “follow me” page to show the various ways to follow Bitter Grounds. I’ve been busy behind the scenes setting up and clarifying the various methods. Everything began to grow more rapidly than anticipated so I needed to pull back and sort through thevarious methods that actually work.
Will be rewriting the Support page over the next day or two. Needs tidying as well.
June 24 2017
Time to catch up. April saw a few weird glitches after I moved to a new host. Changed to Host Papa and the move went smoothly. Except for the unfortunate hickup a few weeks later when the entire site became non functioning. Readable, but impossible to post new stuff. Was a weird glitch that took over a week to repair. Had to reload a couple of the newest articles and lost the hit count for a few. Which was a shame, they had nearly 2,000 views.
Switched back to experimenting with Google Adsense because they have flexible sized ads. Not a lot in the way of dollar making, it’s more an experiment in seeing what happens when changes are made to ad size/placement etc. Google ads allows for much more flexibility than Media.net so I’ll play with them for a bit. You’ll see the ads shift a bit over the next few months. I’ll be experimenting with effects of ads within the posts themselves. Not fond of them, more curious to see what happens.
Thinking of a new banner header. New font hunt is under way. Any suggestions, drop them on me.
Changed the focus of the Philately section. I’ve been posting interesting tidbits happening in the stamp world along with interesting auctions I stumble across.
Trying to adjust the “Read More” banner so it’s cleaner looking. Come to loath the colour of the banner and poking it with a big stick to see what blends best.
Jan 24 2017
Experimenting with a small structure change. I’m folding the Humour section into Memoirs, which is a kitchen sink of things, especially humour. Thought it made more sense. Having the extra category for humour broke up the flow of the site a bit too much. Some of the items are better suited to Memoirs, others to the typography and design. I’m leaving the old material where it is, mostly because of search engines and I’m too lazy to do anything about it at the moment. You can see the old material here https://bittergrounds.com/index.php/they-asked-what . I might move the content around later in the spring. Depends on how frisky I get. As of May 1 2018, all the “asked what” content has been moved into different categories. Most of it can be found in Memoirs and a few were deleted because the graphics didn’t survive the transfer from Joomla to WordPress. I was too lazy to reconstruct the pages.
Sept 20 2016
Few adjustments made – photo log is now digital art to reflect the content better. Section now holds both photographs and digital art project. Changed the title of the philately section to include history.
Completed the side bar descriptor change over. Didn’t like the bland spoonfed section descriptions and changed to quotes that suite each section.
Sept 8 2016
Making changes again. I’m adjusting the focus of the tech section. I’m moving away from tech news and updates. There’s so much info floating around the internet, it’s impossible to come up with any original content. I’m more interested in crafting stories than regurgitating the same info over and over. I’ll still have tech support stories and app reviews but I’ll be changing the rest to a look at the history of technology. I’ve already posted a couple of tech history tales with surprising results. The response has been encouraging.
Updated and polished the Abt Catpaw & Bitter Grounds. Long overdue. Fleshed out the descriptions for some of the categories and why I’ve started changing content.
July 27 2016
Dumped the Amazon widgets already. My god they are ugly and irritating. Didn’t realise it until I loaded the widgets up and watched them for awhile. Nope .. can’t deal with them right now. They are too jarring … yea, yea, I know, ads are supposed to grab attention. But they made the Photo page look like some kind of click bait crap page. Might revisit them when the heat has disipated a bit around here and I’m not so surly. We’ll see.
I’ve also decided to become one of those whiny “SUPPORT ME” people. I’ll be experimenting with optimal placements of support buttons etc. I definitely need to increase their visibility. Starting with a simple Patreon button – the orange really grabs attention. I’ll likely place the Paypal button back on each pages as well and shorten the sections on donation. I’ll be promoting the donations and subscriptions much more. Want towards full time editing of the magazine and use some of the funds to source material.
July 13 2016
Fixed the FB and Flipboard links on the “Like Us” section. Never try to do anything when you have a migraine …. it never ends well.
July 11 2016
Testing out different font sizes and spacing for the sidebar. Trying to improve website flow and move it from the homogenized look. Haven’t settled on a specific look, will be experimenting over the next couple of weeks while I make up my mind.
July 6 2016
After much waffling, I finally settled on a donations/patrons format. I’ve moved the sidebar clutter off each page and placed requests for donations on it’s own page – https://bittergrounds.com/index.php/become-a-patron I’ve linked through to the Patreon website (https://www.patreon.com/bittergrounds) plus Paypal to make donations and subscriptions as simple as possible.
Very pleased with the decreased noise seen on the sidebar. It was becoming far too busy. Left a small “begging box” on each page that directs people to the new category “Become a Patron”. The impact is stronger because it’s far more direct and not so wordy.
July 4 2016
Testing out what I think are more content appropriate ads. I kind of loath the adsense “Missy was shocked by this” bullshit that I normally see. Testing Amazon’s affiliate program to see if the ads are less jarring and slide into the format. If I like the initial feel of the ads, I might dump Adsense.
Improved the Donor information content. Will be creating a seperate page for donations/subscription information in the near future so I can move it off the side bar.
June 22 2016
Updated the abt entries and added a few new ones.
Added new category – App Reviews and moved content. Needed to organise Tech so it was easier to find relevant content. Risking some 404 errors, but needed to rationalise the section.
June 13 2016
Created new category Exploring Art & Design. Moved Photo log to this category. Created a companion subcategory Exploring Design & Typography. Will slowly move content out of old categories to this one.
June 2 2016
Changed the font to Cabin large font. As much as I love Open Sans, it doesn’t seem to work on larger screens.
After updating backend the menus stopped working on smart phones. I’m working on a solution now. Might have to roll back the design until I sort it out. I’ll keep you posted.
Well I’ll be damned! The bug affects Window phones only. Looks like the menu glitch only shows up in Win phones not running Win10. It works on all other platforms. This’ll take some detective work to fix. ARRGGHHH
June 1 2016
I’ve been madly working behind the scenes cleaning up the site and rationalising the menu system. When I started I hadn’t envisioned creating so much content. To prevent it from getting out of control, I’ve reworked some of the categories and will be creating new content menus to make it easier finding “stuff”.
- created Tech news & support
- moved Downloads and Computer news to Tech news & support
- created About menu
- created About Catpaw & Bitter Grounds Page
- created About Catpaw Computer Consulting Page
- created contact form <– finally
- created site index of articles page
I finally settled on a universal font for the site. I had previously been using Verdana, but wanted to update it. I spent weeks looking for a font that was easy to read on screen, yet looked appealing. I settled on Open Sans, simple clean and nice to look at. I likely won’t be going back through changing the older pages for awhile, but gradually I’ll strip out some of the old design codes.
I also changed the name of Diary of a Mad Cat. That was a legacy name from my earlier website. It was time to update the title. It’s now Memoirs of an analogue person – a nod to my days in radio and my steadfast refusal to be a multi-task kind of person. Yea, old school here.