Welcome to the New Website You Made Possible

Good morning, and welcome to the new website!

Several months ago I offered you the opportunity to support this page if you valued the content. Many, many of you did. So many that there was no way I could thank you directly. Literally hundreds of readers have made one-time or monthly donations to support the work.

The response was so large that I began to think of what I could do show my appreciation. In the end, I decided the best way would be to take a large portion of that money and return it to you in the form of a better reading experience. I contacted Robin Easter Design about the prospect of a professional web page.

I first  wrote on the free platform provided by Blogger. That carried me for nearly two years, but I realized it was limiting and the appearance looked like it was the free platform that it was. In the spring of 2012, I changed to WordPress and used one of their themes. It served me well for many years, but the blog continued to evolve and the format seemed to lack the professional appearance I came to believe it deserved.

I also had some quibbles regarding the page from readers along the way. Sometimes it was about functionality. Most of the complaints (and they were usually gentle) related to the white font on the back black ground. I paid someone to code it that way in 2012 because I liked the look and felt it looked urban or gritty. It may have been a bad decision. A number of you said it was hard for you to read.

I asked for the page to be delivered as quickly as possible, because I wanted to connect it to those first generous expressions of support. Robin assembled the wonderful team of Chris Brown as project manager, Whitney Sanders as design manager and Benjamin Finch to work on the coding. They were wonderful to work with via Zoom and the website you are looking at is thanks to Robin and this great team.

Christmas Day, Knoxville, 2020

In addition to the bigger picture of the new website design, you’ll notice a few other details that just give the operation a little extra polish. For example, I’ve never had a logo and now, you see it at the top of the webpage. This led to a business card with a logo and a favicon, which is a term I didn’t know until recently, but is the little symbol you see in the tab at the top of the browser. You’ll also see the logo as the watermark on photographs, as opposed to the old fuzzy text.

The functionality, I think, is also much better. It starts at the top of the page, where the four most recent posts rotate through a slide show. Clicking on the one you’d like to read takes you to that story. Or you can search by categories.

The categories you see listed here, which include culture (history and the arts), business, development, events and life sum up the topics I cover. By having sections for each, you can quickly go to the section that interests you most and see the four most recent articles for that category displayed on the front page of the site. Right now the “life” category is consumed by COVID coverage, but that will change in time.

If you want to take a deeper dive, you can click the category of interest at the top of the page and see the ten most recent articles in that page and a link at the bottom takes you to the next ten, etc. until you catch up with how far back I’ve gotten in category assignment (August 2015, so far). Hopefully this takes you more directly to the articles which interest you and helps you see if there’s anything of interest that you’ve missed.

Christmas Day, Knoxville, 2020

You’ll find other familiar links at the very top of the page, including the about section, video, podcasts and more. I’ll probably be working on that a bit. There’s a link to advertise (I’ve got lots of space for ads, so hit me up!) or donate also along that top bar. You’ll find all the same functionality on the mobile version compressed into the hamburger (the three little lines together on the upper left-hand side). I think the mobile version is a bit easier to navigate, as well.

At the extreme bottom, you’ll find latest comments and trending articles. This is also the spot where you’ll find the opportunity to subscribe — which I hope you’ll do, if you haven’t done so already.

I hope you like it and find it to be a more pleasurable experience. This is a great time to tell your friends about the site and introduce new readers to the improved format. I welcome your feedback. I can’t make major changes, but if there are issues, I’d like to know about it.

So, thank you everyone for making this possible and thank you Robin Easter Design!

And now, back to your regular programming . . .