As I've told you ad nauseum about my site, it's gigantic. Dozens of different documents and they've all gradually built up over the years. This presents something of a problem when I want to go into the site and tool around with it. If I want to make one small change, I need to make the change to half the site. I can't do that.
I've also had certain design beliefs which have gradually worn me down and hindered the quality of my work. When you're considering all the browsers out there, as well as all the different settings, you sometimes have to avoid certain designs and frameworks in order to facilitate them. I could deal with this for awhile, but it's become more and more of a burden as I've become frustrated with my own design skills.
This came to a head when I was in Stockholm with Anna. I seriously could not think of how I could improve my site, but I knew I had to because I was not happy with it. There are so many outdated designs (like the X-Files page...haven't touched it for months) and old information that it grates the brain into a fleshy, raw state. Anything I tried to think of would not work -- my skills were being strained by a lack of freedom.
It was not a pleasing process. It's like being told you have to cut your story you consider to be your crowning achievement from a ten page masterpiece to a seven page article.
When I got home from Stockholm, I couldn't avoid my site anymore. It was sitting there, waiting for me to do something with it, and I couldn't distract myself with my soothing Anna's presence.
Fuck it. I got tired of it all. I got tired of feeling I had to hold back what I could do just so my visitors would have an easier time. Purists can crow all they want about browser independence, and they're still right. But this isn't a corporate page I'm designing -- it's my own site. My personal site. This is my baby.
I began working on the front pages, which have long annoyed me (evidenced by the large number of redesigns to those pages). It's a relief not to worry about your viewers. When you think about what YOU want, the end result is more liberating and, if you truly have talent (which I'm not sure I do), the end result looks better.
Plenty of colors. No more of this pale shit mixed in with plenty of whitespace. Plenty of different things going on in the same areas. An explosion of sensory things. More interactivity. More initiative required by the viewer. Less coddling those who come in haphazardly and expect me to take care of them. It may be confusing, but to me, that's how I want it to be. I want there to be a lot of different factors working together to create an attitude. The greatest writers aren't always easy to read, but once your view is altered to one more microscopic, the facility of all the chiasmi and anaphoras and enjambements is revealed. The redesign may seem messy or pointless, but I assure you, it has a goal. A completely text-only ASCII design? What is Ben thinking? But there's a lot working under it.
SSI will make my site a lot easier to maintain. That also means URLs will be changing. Most documents will turn into .shtml documents. What this means is that if I need to, say, change the navigation setup at the bottom of each page, I just need to change the text file that's inserted using SSI.
I don't care about the extra server CPU usage. I don't care if viewers are more confused than they used to. I don't care about the hits or the awards or the people I meet. Go the fuck away.
I've pretty much had my parting words with most all the other people on the Web. I can't remember the last new person I began corresponding with first. Maybe it's Tom. He rocks, but I got him into Quake 2, so he may not be on the Web much longer. ;)
If you thought this site was self-indulgent before, I assure you it will get much, much worse. Just like in real-life, what once was a community and a neighborhood of active and volunteering people is now a place where people race to go home and stay in their own houses. The Web is full of it now. People don't contribute to others anymore. Fine. If that's how it's going to be, fine. If you're planning on starting a site, don't hurt yourself and expect other people to help. Other people don't give a fuck. Do it for yourself and for your already close friends. Don't expect any more or you'll get burned.
This is the Web, and I am only an inhabitant who lives on the pomerium.
It's high time instead of trying to exploit my gifts that I started to appreciate them more. Hell, I'm almost twenty and everything's clicking for me. Great girlfriend, strong HTML/design/programming background, part-time job, Latin classes, and supportive family. You better believe that I'm going to start putting this success into my site more this year. No longer will it be a pain in the ass. It's going to be more about what I want than what anyone else wants.
You may hate it and you may think I could do better. But it's what I wanted to do. It's what I needed to do. I needed to let my freedom of expression flow more easily.
No word when the redesign will come, but when it does, it's going to be a huge release off my shoulders.