A new domain for this site: donaldjenkins.com

Switching from .net to .com

Regular visitors to this site may or may not have noticed that its domain has changed. This certainly doesn’t reflect any decision on my part to turn it into a commercial venture. It’s simply the result of my purchase, after it took me three years to convince its previous owner to sell it, of the rather more generic donaldjenkins.com, which will now be the actual platform for the site. A 301 Redirect will effortlessly propel anyone using the old address to the new one, and Google have been notified of the change, although you might want to update any links accordingly.

Switching domains actually turned out to be childishly simple: since the directory structure of the new site is exactly the same as the old’s, all that was needed was applying a few regular expressions to remove any trace of the old url in my database and php files, and I was up and running.

New layout: the Belgravia theme

Previous themes
This site’s previous themes: from left to right, (1) the Unstandard theme (2008-2010); (2) the the Astorg theme (2010-2011); (3) the Chelsea theme (March to December 2011).

I’ve taken the advantage of the move to also switch to a new layout. I wasn’t too happy with the Chelsea theme that I’d designed when I switched to html5 this spring: It moved away from the rather more subdued layout of the earlier Astorg theme and I was never quite comfortable with it.

The Belgravia theme
The Belgravia theme is significantly more minimalist than its predecessor, the Chelsea theme, itself much faster-loading than previous iterations, the Astorg theme and the Unstandard theme. It runs with virtually no javascript and is extremely lightweight.

The Belgravia theme whose arrival coincides with the .com switch was initially intended as an upgrade to the Chelsea theme: but I ended up moving away from it sufficiently to justify a name change. I’ve retained much of the html code and attention to semantics introduced in the spring—and html5 document outlines still show up meaningfully. I’ve trimmed down the markup whenever possible to ensure faster loading speeds. I find that a custom version of Paul Irish’s excellent Modernizr is all I need [i] to ensure the site displays reasonably well in all broswers, so I was able dispense with jQuery altogether, except on the contact form, which I designed from scratch to provide server and client validation.

Sticking with WordPress—but increasingly tempted by Jekyll

I’ll try and write posts over the next few days to cover some of the more interesting components I implemented in the site. One idea with which I toyed before ruling it to was switching away from WordPress to a completely static site such as Jekyll. Octopress, a beautifully well thought-out platform designed for Jekyll by Brandon Mathis, would be my top candidate if I did. It would probably minimize what to me is the biggest drawback of Jekyll: Jekyll is a static site builder, so naturally it has to rebuild your site any time anything changes. One would hardly want to wait forever to publish every single post: with WordPress and MarsEdit, I’ve got a workflow that’s pretty unbeatable for comfort and speed, and one I’m happy to stick with for the time being. Also, WordPress is sufficiently well-established to be pretty much future-proof, which isn’t the case,obviously, for Jekyll.

In the meantime, though, I’m sticking with a WordPress platform in which I’ve hard-coded he vast majority of the content that doesn’t change (the contact form is entirely hard-coded to overcome the frequent inconsistencies between jQuery and WordPress’s internally-generated code), to keep database requests to queries that actually serve a useful purpose: I make systematic use of PHP conditional statements to determine which resources are served depending on the page or type of content displayed—this works really well and has speeded up loading time to well under a second for the most part. Next time round, though, I may well choose to make the switch.

  1. Modernizr really works superbly at what it sets out to do, as this screencast shows. []