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administrivia

Site Updates

New theme on the site, WOO!

So y’all may notice* that things look a tad different around here. This is because I’ve activated a brand new theme on the site, namely, Florence by the folks at Solo Pine Designs. There are a few reasons for this!

One, AngelaHighland.com IS my professional writing site, and I wanted to step up its game for overall appearance. So I wanted to put out a little money to buy a professional theme that matched my overall personal preferences in how my site should look: i.e., minimal, mostly white, but with the proper font choices and other little accents to give the whole thing a unified look.

Two, something I’ve learned from the day job is that Google has started penalizing the search rankings of sites that aren’t mobile-friendly. By which I mean: sites that don’t have a mobile version loading for mobile devices that visit them, or, alternately, which do not have a theme that automatically adapts to a mobile device. Dara has recently done some work in the former area, i.e., setting up a separate page to serve as the landing point for mobile devices, and she’s already seen some interesting results in her Google numbers. Me, I am opting instead for a theme that’s responsive in design–i.e., which displays itself one way on desktops and tablets, and another way when viewed on phones.

Three, the Solo Pine folks are a Seattle-based couple who do web design, and hey, since they’re local, I was all the more happy to throw them a little bit of my money. So if you’re in the market for a theme for your site, you might go check out what they have to offer. They’ve got a system set up to do tech support for you too, if you need it.

Some other notes:

I particularly liked how the Florence theme handled displaying the site menu. If you look at the site on desktop or tablet, you should see the full menu bar. If you look at it on a phone, it should condense down to a nice little icon in the upper left corner that you can tap on to get to the menu.

Plus, the theme nicely handles interacting with my various social media presences. If you look up at the right hand corner, as well as down in the footer, you should see various icons pointing off to my main social network pages. Those aren’t all of them–I’ve left off YouTube, Soundcloud, and Vimeo, for example–but those are the ones of most importance.

And I’m not done yet with the various changes. I’m still working on various rearrangings of content on various pages on my dev site, and as I get things looking better there, I’ll be porting those changes over to here. I’ve already done this to the homepage, which you can now see no longer has a sidebar, and which is a little nicer in how it presents the covers of how it presents my books to you, too. Most importantly, the homepage SHOULD look good when viewed on a phone, too.

Be on the lookout for further changes to appear on the menu as I rearrange that, maybe delete some pages and move others. And I’ll definitely be updating the layout on the official book pages as well.

If you see anything that looks problematic or confusing, even if you thought it was problematic or confusing before I installed the new theme, talk to me! I may have already addressed the problem on the dev site. And if I haven’t, I want to know what confuses people so I can work on fixing it!

Hope y’all like the new look, anyway! I sure do.

* And if you didn’t notice because you’re reading this post on LJ or Dreamwidth, click on over to the site to see what I’m talking about!

Site Updates

Dayjob experience coming in handy for my sites

So this is kind of a wacky thing–I’m finding myself able to use a couple of things learned from projects at work in the managing of my own sites. Those of you out there who read me, if you’re running your own sites as well, especially if you’re a fellow indie writer, you might want to consider these for your sites.

One: Google and other search engine spiders care if you have a sitemap.xml file. This is not something that users would normally hit–it’s a file that sits there entirely for the benefit of search engines, so that they can better index your site. I have chosen to address this by installing a WordPress plugin that dynamically generates one of these.

If you’re a fellow WordPress user, you might want to investigate this too. And if you’re blogging on a different platform, such as Blogger, and you have useful data on how to set up such a thing, drop me a comment!

Two: Google also cares now if your site is mobile-friendly, i.e., if you have something better than just the desktop view of your site when people come and visit you on their mobile devices. I am choosing to address this on annathepiper.org, which is still up even though I’m not actively posting to it, by installing the new Twenty Fifteen WordPress theme, which is specifically set up to render well on mobile devices as well as on desktop computers.

I am also currently shopping around for options for professionally designed themes to deploy on angelahighland.com. And I recommend anybody running their own site do the same–especially fellow writers. I’m eyeing Solo Pine right now, as I like their design esthetic, and bonus that they’re also headquartered in Seattle.

If you’ve got the technical and design chops to roll your own theme, go for it. But if you don’t, consider shopping around for a modern, mobile-friendly theme for your site. Think about what you like design-wise, and what features you want in a theme as well.

Other things I’m doing right now of note: as mentioned in a previous post, I’m doing some significant housekeeping of old content. I’m going through old posts on angelahighland.com and annathepiper.org, deleting anything on annathepiper.org that I’ve already copied over onto angelahighland.com, and fixing broken content as well. This is to reduce duplication of content, which will hopefully make angelahighland.com tastier to the search engine spiders as they crawl around the web.

Anybody have other tips to share as to how to spruce up your site for the spiders?

Site Updates

Murkworks.net web server and blogs updated

All,

Dara had to perform some maintenance on our web server last night, and it turned out to be an unexpectedly bumpy ride–thanks to unexpected changes in the process of updating to Apache 2.4. All this work kept her up until 4:30. AUGH.

Likewise, I have also updated all blogs we host to WordPress 4.2.1.

We THINK we’ve gotten everything working, but just in case, if anyone reading this has resources we host, doublecheck your stuff and let us know if anything looks screwy. And if anybody sees anything screwy with angelahighland.com in particular, let me know and I’ll check it out.

Site Updates

Housekeeping-type site updates

As a general note of interest, I’ve updated a few things on the site today.

First, I’ve added several bits to the FAQ, to update the references to Vengeance of the Hunter, to add references to Victory of the Hawk, and to clarify what genres I write in and what other authors are useful to compare me to. Also, for giggles, I’ve added in a bit about this whole Quebecois trad thing I can’t shut up about, the Trilingual Hobbit Reread, and what other things you can expect me to start posting about once the Rebels of Adalonia trilogy is done.

Secondly, I’ve activated pages for both Victory of the Hawk and Bone Walker. Both are pretty bare-bones at this point, but they ARE the official sources of data for both of these books. Watch them for further updates. You’ll be able to find both of these books on the site’s Books menu now.

Third, the Rebels of Adalonia page has been updated to include Victory‘s official release date of April 6, 2015.