Well, the new blog system is basically completed. Now that I have everything done - I figured I would post a little update explaining why the change, what exactly has changed, as well as some commentary on my reasoning in general. I plan to do this with most of the new "things" I'm playing with around the website in the future. Hopefully this will help explain my thought process and there will be less "complaining" when I change something.
The Name Change
I changed the name from "journal" to "blog" for a variety of reasons. First it was to signify a change in how I viewed this section of the website. When I think of journal I think of personal diary entries. When I think of blog I think of - well - anything. People talking - notes - recommendations - sharing - articles - links - videos ... all of that and more. I wanted this section to be more free flowing. And, as it's not my journal, I figured this made sense. Furthermore the name change goes along well with the big changes in design/functionality. It signifies a new direction.
I changed the layout to allow more options on the blog page. More information to be displayed in a manner that doesn't (hopefully) detract from the main content (the blogs themselves). I also designed this section in a way that will allow us to have other writers (non-staff) post blogs and if they are linked to, more information is available about the writer. Not just a "back to profile" link as before. This new layout also allows for a better comment system. I hated how they worked before. It looked funny and without all of the postbit materials (that regular posts have) it looked bare and naked. So I mimicked the release date calendar comments. Basically I consider this my "mini-postbit" - for places where comments should be available but not the entire post like everywhere else on the website. The look is basically jacked from Facebook. People continually make the "absolutefacebook" joke - and whatever, I love the company and innovation they've provided so I have no problem borrowing from the best. You'll see my attitudes are very "facebook" and "apple" and "microsoft" orientated. I borrow a lot from all these companies as I envy what they have been able to accomplish. Plus, the layout works - it's clean - it's intuitive. That's important to me.
The Entry Bit
The entry bit has been cleaned up. I think it's much smoother (currently playing and moods are hidden until clicked to provide a cleaner look and not clutter the view). This new bit puts all the information at a user's fingertips - yet doesn't overwhelm with too much information.
Probably the portion of the new blogs I'm most proud of. I coded this entire section/function by hand. I think it's the most important addition to the blogs for a variety of reasons. For starters it allows for very quick access to all information. If you read my blog you know I post about a shit load of different things (inside ap, first impressions, recommendations, reviews, movies, music, etc.). Now all of those posts can be quickly found with the click of a mouse. Want all my (or others) recommendations? Click the tag (I also put the link in my signature). Want all the "inside AP" blogs to read? Click the tag. There are endless possibilities for me, users, and staff members. This will allow us to have bands blog easier, industry folk, all of that. Plus it allows you to sort through your blogs much quicker without having to run searches. Also, say you find a blogger with a bunch of recommendations you like -- boom -- pull them all up at once. The "tag cloud" is still technically a work in progress. It works like it should; however, there's a few minor errors (I'm not gonna tell you because I haven't fixed them yet) that I need to fix. That'll be done in the future once I figure those all out. I just but that up cause it basically works as it should.
As you'll see on my blog I have added a "photo blog" feature on the top. This is a feature I put together in coordination with Buzznet.com. Now, first, why buzznet? Well, for starters because they have the system in place to "email a photo to your profile" - something that I love due to my Sidekick. I used to hiplog, but no one ever really checked it out. This way my hiplog and my blog are the same page. Everything on one page. Second because I like the company. They're good people and have good ideas. It's easy to use - was easy to integrate - and looks clean. I put the 4 latest image widget on the blogs (if you have a buzznet account just add your username to your profile page and it works automatically) and then a 20 image link if you click "more." This 20 image in-screen can also be activated on the member's profile page. Hopefully our own gallery will be vastly improved in the future ... but for now ... this is pretty cool. I plan to use it a lot (and the cool thing is that it's all integrated almost seamlessly).
It works. Makes it easy to stay up to date with your favorite blogs as well as export your blogs to Facebook or other places. Just a great feature that I can't get enough of.
I think everything else is pretty self-explanatory. Shouldn't be too hard to follow. Hopefully everyone enjoys the upgrades as much as I do -- I know they're things I'll use on a daily basis and think they're dramatically improve our blog system in general.
In The Next Few Days
I'll update on a few other new features and explain my reasoning and so forth. Check back.
I snapped at some people in the general forum today that were complaining/bitching about a few new things I was trying out on the website. There's just something about working on something ... spending a lot of time on it ... and then having people complain/bitch/whine about it before you've even explained how it's going to work. Of course now that page is almost completed (hint) and I think it's going to work so people can track what's going on with their friends as the website expands and grows. I'll explain more about this whole feature/addition tomorrow. It just really gets under my skin when people start complaining about things on a website they're using for free. "Add this" or "this is worthless" or "bring back this" or "do this." Now, I have no problem with constructive criticisms or suggestions (I read our suggestion forum daily) - but when it becomes a hyperbole filled tirade or when the entire objective is to jump on a soap box and complain -- it just bugs me. Try spending your whole day at work .. then the moment you leave the office have someone walk up to you and start bitching about what you spent the last 8 hours working on. It's aggravating. Only so much shit you can take. I'll touch on this all more in the next few days.