The trick is to smoke the meat and not make the meat smoke

Site Tweaks - 2014

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I have recently been making some usability tweaks to the site. Some are brand new ways of thinking, some of them long overdue items I had been meaning to get around to. I will list them as a group here so you can see the new things that can be done in various parts of the site. This process began about a year ago. I had switched the site over to a so-called responsive design about a year ago. Responsive Design adapts the interface to the screen size of the device the site is being viewed on. It makes the site more usable on small screen devices like mobile phones and tablets. But there also were some lingering issues that needed to be solved and they are now. I also listen to the feedback I get from users of the site via the Contact Form, Guestbook and some of the changes were a direct result of comments from users of the site.



The theme I am using has the ability to switch from normal pulldown menus to a mobile menu when viewed on a smaller screen. The mobile menu is easy to read and more usable on small screen devices. The pulldown menus become difficult to use as they spill onto multiple lines below the masthead. I was having trouble getting the mobile menus to work. With the help of the theme developer, they are now working correctly. Going forward, If you visit the site on a device with a screen size smaller than an iPad in portrait mode it will switch to the mobile menus.



The search engine for the site was not working correctly after I switched the site over to the responsive design. It was a setting I needed to change in my site settings, but I did not know where to find this setting. Where I had several other ways to find content on the site, I didn’t make looking into the search page issue a high priority. It turns out it was a simple fix and I thank the developer for the RapidSearch Plug In for RapidWeaver for the quick assist. So now for many tasks the search page is going to get you the fastest and most accurate results.



I had received some feedback that the body text was hard to read against the dark background. I had been considering making a change to a lighter body text for a while, but what got me off the dime was when the developer of the theme I use mentioned the text needed more contrast. So the site should be easier for everyone to read going forward. My apologies for not doing this sooner. It does make a big difference.




I added two additional links to the Navigation Links area at the bottom of the sidebar on every Picture Page. The first new link is a link to the Main Category page for the food type you are viewing. So for example the Beef Category has 11 gallery pages. This link takes you up two levels to the pages where all the Beef Category Gallery pages & photo pages can be accessed. The second link takes you up one level to the Gallery Page which contains the Photo Pages you are currently viewing. It just makes navigation a little easier if you reached the page without having passed through the Galleries.



The theme I am using for the look of my web pages behaved differently than other themes I had used in the past. The text I added to describe the blog went the bottom of the sidebar, while the Categories, Tags, Archive Links etc. went to the top. This was the opposite of the behavior I wanted. The theme developer was nice enough to tweak the page for me so I could have my body text come at the top of the sidebar. This had always bothered me and I thank Nick Cates of Nick Cates Design for making this change for me.



All of the 23 Main Category pages (Appetizers, Baking, Beef, Burgers etc.) have new header collages with images of the the various items from Photo Pages contained in that category. This isn’t purely eyewash, this will help give you an idea of the types of food contained in this category.


Another case of a visual improvement that also makes for easier navigation, is the change to the headers on the Galleries Pages. The header is now a slide show showing masthead images for the 4-9 Photo Pages in that Gallery. What is “new and improved” is these new masthead images are captioned and if one looks interesting to you can click on the header image and it will take you to that Photo Gallery. Of course you can also use the thumbnails found lower on the page.

I hope these changes to the site make it easier to use and will tempt you to become a regular visitor. Please use the Contact Form to let me know if there are some suggestions you may have for improving the site. Some of the recent tweaks to the page were items that were fixed with the help of some very helpful RapidWeaver plug-in and theme developers. My sincere thanks go out to them for their prompt responses and for fixing the issues I had.


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