Evolving DanylkoWeb: A New Design

Finally, the redesign was released on Saturday. Today, I present the new layout of DanylkoWeb, how it evolved, and discuss how it will benefit my audience.

November 16th, 2016 • Design •
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Welcome to a faster DanylkoWeb

Every year, I try to give DanylkoWeb a facelift while keeping up with the design trends and development trends while passing on my findings to my audience.

Since August, I've been making adjustments to the site, fixing responsive design, and providing a better experience.

In addition to the design changes, I also feel like DanylkoWeb should evolve into something else besides JUST a blog.

In today's post, I will go over the changes made to the site and how it's going to evolve and provide value to my readers.

A Quick History

DanylkoWeb wasn't the first. I started DCS-Media (Danylko Consulting Services) for my clients way back in 2006 who had trouble keeping up with technology, so I would blog about how they could integrate technology into their business.

After four years, the blogging slowed to a crawl. I felt the site needed an update.

So I did the following:

  • Took down DCS-Media with a redirect.
  • Eliminated "fluffy" posts that had absolutely no value whatsoever.
  • Deleted the comments from my custom commenting system and moved to Disqus.
  • Transferred and converted the posts over to DanylkoWeb and started to blog.

That's when DanylkoWeb went live in 2014.

Since that launch, I have been blessed with a large number of readers (and critics) in my audience who found what I do in my career as exciting as me.

After six months of launching DanylkoWeb, I decided every year I would update the site to keep it fresh and inviting to my audience.

I've updated the site twice: one redesign last year and now, this post.

On Saturday (Sunday morning at 2:30a, actually), I released the updated version of DanylkoWeb.

As expected, as with any release, there were some issues.

But enough about the history, I want to present some of the changes made to the site and why I implemented them.

The Next Level

Technical blogging for me is discussing my career, coding tips and techniques, projects, and technology with my audience.

For the majority of bloggers out there, it's a journal or diary of an entity, whether it be a company or a person. That's what blogging is, a "web log."

For a blog specific to developers, I consider it to be the "release notes of your career."

If you look at other sites, you'll notice that their primary focus isn't on blogging (although some are), it's about something else. It could be a product or a service, but their blog is not their primary objective. It's a secondary objective.

It's logging their journey of what they are trying to accomplish. Their secondary objective. The blog is simply a tool in the journey.

With DanylkoWeb, I feel it was time to expand and use the blog as a secondary objective.

As a number of people have mentioned before, "Blogging is not a Business."

Rest assured, the blog won't wither away anytime soon. It's the foundation of what made DanylkoWeb what it is today.

I will still use DanylkoWeb as my primary place to share my ideas, projects, and source code as I continue throughout my personal and professional career.

Bottom line: I'm just adding more value to the site.

Now, on to the changes.

The Obvious Changes

As you look over the site, you'll notice the blog pages didn't change much. It shouldn't since it isn't a primary objective.

The apparent changes to the site include the following.

Home Page

Version 2 screenshot of DanylkoWeb Main Page

With the expanding of DanylkoWeb, the home page needed a revamp for two reasons.

  • It needed to go on a diet (51k of HTML source)
  • Required an overall "Welcome to DanylkoWeb" instead of the "airplane drop" into the blog every time a reader visits.
  • Better responsive design for Desktops, Tablets, and SmartPhones.

My first focus was the size of the page.

As mentioned, the page needed to have a "welcome mat" for new visitors to the site and encompass everything the site has to offer (which isn't much...yet). It's prepped for future expansion.

I wanted to touch on what it was, what it has to offer, and a sample of the blog posts to allow them to dig further into the site.

In the old home page, I tried to provide everything that a user would want in a single page. This was a mistake.

On the new home page, I tried to break down everything into small digestible sections of what the site provides to my readers. I didn't want to pile on everything into one screen.

The home page should be a small sample of what the site can offer to your readers. Think of it almost like a dashboard. Provide enough information to let them decide what they want to dig into further.

Using Bootstrap and FontAwesome and a sectioned approach, I was able to strip down the large "bloggy"-type home page.

The page now weighs in at 22k. MORE than half the size.

Picture of Borat with two thumbs up

Blog List w/paging

I decided to revert back to the old school method of paging instead of the AJAX-y way of loading blog posts.

I made the paging buttons bigger for when the page goes into responsive mode as well as making every page cached for quick access.

Resources Page

I've been asked in the past what products and services I use in my professional career. Of course, I always forget one or two AFTER I'm done talking to someone.

With the new Resources page, it was a great way to consolidate all of the tools I use in my day-to-day life on one page. 

I'll be adding more as I continue.

Category Pages

In my analytics, I've noticed it didn't matter whether I had category pages or not. People would visit the page and follow the links I provided throughout the site.

The category pages were removed.

The Job Board

This is probably the most obvious change on the site.

There was a time when I was struggling to make ends meet when the Internet bubble burst in 2001/2002.

I was out of work for six months.

SIX MONTHS!

This was a feeling I do not want anyone to experience so I decided to provide a service since I have over 30,000 people visiting my site every month.

There are two benefits to the Job Board:

  • This Job Board is a way for me to help those in need of a technology job, whether it be design, development, database, front-end, or cloud. By adding this Job Board to my site, the goal is to provide an up-to-date (< 30 days) list of jobs to developers from around the world, no matter where they live.
  • I always get the occasional call from a recruiter asking if I know anyone to fill a particular position. What better place to send them than to "place an ad" on the Job Board with 30,000 visitors interested in a position.

While there isn't anything current, this Job Board doesn't have to be specific to recruiters and consulting companies.

If a company has a need for an ASP.NET MVC developer, by all means, post the position on the Job Board.

The Not-So-Obvious Changes

Focus on Social/Subscriptions

When you first visit the site, the first thing you see are the social icons and a place for subscribers to sign up for the newsletter (called DanylkoWebWire).

If you are a first-time web developer and you are going to build a site, make sure you have a way for people to subscribe to your site...use email. Get their email address!

The scenario I always hear is "What if Google goes down and you don't receive any more traffic to your site?" You still have your email list of subscribers.

When DanylkoWeb was built, I made sure I had a way to ask them for an email address so I could get in touch with my readers to provide real value to them when the time came. 

Newsletters

For the longest time, I've been mentioning a newsletter and after 2 years, I finally have it implemented into my workflow.

My intention is to provide my subscribers with a digest every week of valuable links to keep you reading for the weekend. I want the newsletter to be a valuable resource to my subscribers.

The newsletter will be delivered to subscribers every Friday and include:

  • Weekly content curation of articles from DanylkoWeb.

  • Morning Coffee Links for the week.

  • A section called Around the .NET with news-worthy links from around the Internet.

  • Promotional Deals from vendors to my readers on certain occasions.

Of course, the newsletter will only be as good as my subscribers tell me it is. If you have any concerns about the newsletter, please leave feedback.

SSL

This feature should only concern Google and people adding jobs to the Job Board (for payment).

One of the ways Google provides a higher level of trust to websites is that they are secure. It's one of Google major factors for gauging whether a site is truly trustworthy or not.

I want my readers to understand that I don't participate in passing their emails around and take security very seriously...

...which is why I decided to secure my site.

Responsive Design

I also attempted to include Responsive Design when performing the facelift.

I wanted the site to work on the following devices:

  • Desktop
  • Laptop
  • Tablet (Portrait/Landscape)
  • Smartphone (Portrait/Landscape)

These devices were my top priority and using the DevTools (using F12) in Google Chrome helped immensely in debugging layouts and device views.

Conclusion

With all of the latest trends, I wanted to add a lot to "this year's model," but decided to focus my efforts on other projects for the remainder of this year.

After all of the changes were implemented, I wanted to keep some ideas for future expansion when the site expands further.

Do you like the design? Don't see much change? Post your comments below.

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Picture of Jonathan Danylko

Jonathan Danylko is a freelance web architect and avid programmer who has been programming for over 20 years. He has developed various systems in numerous industries including e-commerce, biotechnology, real estate, health, insurance, and utility companies.

When asked what he likes to do in his spare time, he replies, "Programming."

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