Today, on September 1st 2010, andreasviklund.com got a major update. Several things have been changed from the previous version of the site in order to make the site easier to navigate and make it more useful for as many visitors as possible. Here are the most important updates:
The basic layout has been preserved from the previous version of the site. The main menu is still at the top of the page, the content is to the left and there is a sidebar to the right. But where the previous version of the site had five blog posts on the frontpage, this version of the site has moved the blog to its own page. From now on, you can find the blog on http://andreasviklund.com/blog/ or through the “Blog” link in the navigation menu.
Instead of showing the blog, the front page now shows a slideshow with screenshot of the latest free website template releases. If you click on one of the images, you will be redirected to a page where you can read more about (and of course, download) the release. Below that is a short presentation of the site and the idea behind it, with links to the most important sections of the site. And below that text is one of the most important changes: the “Learn”, “Build” and “Share” columns with links to articles related to each topic.
The three columns on the front page represent blog categories, and they have space for five links each (currently for the five latest articles in each category).
Learn contains posts that are related to learning and understanding HTML, CSS and web design in general. Here you will find tutorials, how-to’s and material and resources that will help you expand your knowledge about everything related to web design. Want to learn how to edit the colorscheme of a specific template? Request an article about it through the new discussion forum and it may appear as a blog post in the “Learn” category!
Build is for articles and resources related to designing and coding, for example posts about what content management systems are suitable for different tasks or about new templates or add-on material. Reviews of web design software and/or services is one example of what you will find in this category in the future, articles about why web standards and accessibility are too important to ignore is another.
Share will cover a topic related to web design which I have previously not written very much about but which a lot of template users have asked me about: the various forms that your online precence can have, and how to move on from simply existing to really getting your message out. It is one thing to learn how to build and run a website, and another thing to use it in a way that moves you forward towards whatever target you may have. You will probably find a few case studies here in the future. Want to share your own experience about this topic? Send me an e-mail or start a thread in the discussion forum.
Beside these three primary categories, there is a “General” category for posts that do not fit into any of the three primary categories. For example, site news and personal entries. Blog posts are also tagged to make it easy to find posts about specific topic. For example, all blog posts about the Variant Mini template can be found by browsing the Variant Mini tag archive. A tag cloud and a complete archive of all posts can be found on the blog archive page.
Comments are now handled through the Disqus commenting platform, which provides a lot of new features for discussing each blog post. I have not used Disqus before so it is so far only a test, but I think that it will be a good solution.
The single most popular request that I have got throughout the years that andreasviklund.com has been online, is a way of getting easy support for the free website templates. A common suggestion has been that I should have a forum for support threads and for an open discussion between template users and template designers. Since I have fantastic experiences from the website template community sites where I got inspired to learn XHTML/CSS design and where I got answers to the questions I had as a beginner, I know that there are lots of people who want help – but also lots of people who are more than happy to share their knowledge and experiences so that others can learn from it. Through the new andreasviklund.com forum, I hope that I can provide a good meeting place for this purpose.
To join the community and get full access to the forum, you need to create a user account. You can do this through the registration page. Membership is completely free. You can still read all threads without registering any user account, but only registered members can start new threads and post replies. As an added bonus, each user gets an own profile page, an own activity stream and access to an internal messaging system where you can connect with other users. As a user you can also send friend requests to other users, and if a friend request is accepted you can post messages to the other users profile, similar to the “wall” on Facebook.
Please be aware that the forum is a new feature, and that the forum is in a wild beta mode. At launch is completely untested, and the visual appearence is not yet in sync with the rest of the site design. The forum will start off as a test, and it will be developed further once I see how it is used. Feel free to suggest new sub-forums if you want to see something specific.
The sidebar is simplified. It shows a small screenshot of the latest template release, a login box for registered members – and once logged in it shows shortcuts to the community features and the forum. Below the login box, there is a form where template users can search for available domains and get hosting space for their websites – another common request.
To sum it all up, this is a long-awaited update which I hope (and believe) will move andreasviklund.com from being a sporadically updated personal blog into a living, inspirational and resource and community for people interested in web design, and especially in website templates, web standards, accessibility and usefulness. Since I now run this website on a professional level, the target is to provide a high-quality resource – for as many people as possible. Beginner or professional web designer, you should be able to find useful resources here no matter what.
Welcome to the new andreasviklund.com, enjoy your stay and feel free to join the community to be a part of the adventure!
This article was written by Andreas Viklund
Web designer, writer and the creative engine behind this website. Author of most of the free website templates, along with some of the WordPress themes.