New Site Theme

As you've probably noticed, the site has undergone a much-needed update to its appearance, thanks to Aelanna and the new theme she's designed. I've set up this page both to provide information about the update and a place to provide feedback (in the page discussion thread)— please let us know if you have any questions or experience any problems.

The rest of this post is mostly going to be quoting others. First, Aelanna on what's changed:

  • Massive visual overhaul with Much Shinies™.
    • New background.
    • Added logo. (Let's face it. As wishy-washy as we've been about having an official logo thus far, the greater fanbase and community have accepted it, so we have one whether we like it or not.)
    • Custom-embedded title font.
    • Customized search widget.
    • Customized rating module.
    • Adjusted margins to reduce dead space and increase content area width.
    • Completely restructured and overhauled front page.
  • Restructured side bar.
    • Subheadings breaks apart "wall of text" feel of original sidebar.
    • Custom bullets and restructuring to place more emphasis on tales.
    • Links reordered to place more emphasis on making the site more accessible to newer members.
    • Series order reversed to place more emphasis on newer series.
  • Restructured top bar.
    • Compacted layout slightly to reduce clutter.
    • Moved out redundant "Content Archives" link from each series to dedicated main heading.
  • Moved site theme into an external wiki page….
    • I was originally concerned about the performance hit from doing this, but after some initial testing, it turns out that Wikidot is far better about caching side-includes than full pages. This only adds about 20-30ms worth of overhead to the initial load, and caches properly for subsequent loads; the additional server stress is inconsequential.
    • This allows the theme to be changed without hassling admins to copy and paste code into the site manager, and makes it easier to recover from oopsies.
    • As an additional, satellite bonus: This will also make it trivial for international sites to adopt the same template.

Also, the site is now rendered in fixed-width, as opposed to dynamic-width like before. However, if you'd like to have the dynamic width view, simply complete the following (this has been copy-pasted from the discussion page, formal instructions from Aelanna will be here shortly):

For those who are willing to do a client-side override to return the site to dynamic width and you are willing to install a browser plugin like Stylish to do it, here's this bit of CSS for you:

#content-wrap { margin: 2em 0 0 !important; width: auto !important; padding: 0 2em !important; }
#side-bar { left: 2em !important; }

Here's a screenshot of how it should look for the Stylish extension on Chrome; Stylish is also available for Firefox and I'm assuming the Firefox version is similar.

Aelanna again, on why she made some of the placement decisions she did, specifically why the Recent Posts link isn't higher up:

The thing to take into consideration here, though, is that in a site like ours, page flow for regular visitors is actually secondary to the user story for new visitors. It is my professional opinion that this kind of link ordering best suits that use case and that minor inconveniences like this are reasonable sacrifices to make.

And finally thedeadlymoose, who made this comment a few days ago directed toward staff, but which would be just as applicable to the user base at large:

NOTE: We've just recently received a few comments on the font and/or color choice of the template, some suggesting alternate colors. Such comments are always welcome.

But I also want to clear up a few things:

Administration doesn't want to override Aelanna on something small like a font choice or whatnot, and we don't want this to be designed slowly and painfully by committee. So long as administration approves the template — which we do, presently — she has the final word.

Feel free to post in this thread… or send comments to her, though.

I also want to point out that implementing this doesn't mean we're married to it forever. If that was gonna be the case, we'd have stuck with the old template the way we have for years and years and years and… you get the point.

So there you go. Again, if you have any questions, problems, or comments, feel free to post in this page's thread or in chat.

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