What was wrong with the last one?

Ok, so I know there was a lot of fans of the last design of this site, Joelvsarthritis 2.0 if you like. But I have good reasons for another website redesign in such short succession. Let me explain and introduce Joelvsarthritis 3.0. 🙂

The last design using the Dyad 2 theme was beautiful and based on the feedback I received at launch, it was rather popular. The main thing I liked about it was how it showcased your featured blog posts. This was a great way of directing readers to your most valuable or highest quality content. But it came at a cost. One, I was spending a lot of time playing around with images. Ultimately, the theme was designed with photography or foodie blogs in mind so there was a big emphasis on images. For me, my posts are about the writing, the information, the candid approach to telling my story. If I’m spending more time tweaking my images for multiple devices than I am writing my posts or promoting them on social media, something’s wrong.

The other issue I had was website performance. As my site and audience has grown quicker than I anticipated, the responsiveness of the site was taking a hit. With some tests reporting an almost 2 second load time for the homepage. For context, it was at 0.5sec when I first launched it. For those not up to speed on search engine optimisation (SEO), this is very bad in Google’s eyes. I have seen my site shoot up the search rankings due to my hard work on SEO and I didn’t want a sluggish response time jeopardising that.

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One final issue was the layout itself. As reminded in Google’s recent blog post, the future is mobile. Simply put, the last design as aesthetically pleasing as it was, wasn’t a great experience on a mobile device. In order to keep on Google’s good side and to ensure a great experience for my readers, I needed to find a layout that was more suited to blogging.

Joelvsarthritis 3.0

So welcome to the new design. Based upon the Rowling theme (with a few personal CSS tweaks), it’s cleaner, more minimalistic and loads in less than 0.5 seconds on the majority of devices.

Another website redesign - but a good headache to have - Joel vs Arthritis
Screenshot of the new blog view

I feel that it puts more emphasis on the writing rather than the images and I like having a sidebar again. As opposed to the footer menu on the last layout. I felt that a lot of links and information were lost at the bottom of my last design, whereas now, it’s more ‘front and centre’.

Finally, I think the colour scheme matches my brand and logo better and has more of a ‘magazine’ feel to it. I’ve always found those magazine style blogs more welcoming and easier to navigate and now I have over 75 articles on my site, it feels like a good way to present the growing content. Especially as I consider how best to signpost users to other content they might enjoy once they’ve visited the site.

So, here it is, I hope you like it? As always, feedback in the comments section is always welcome.

Oh, and wondered how this disability blogger somehow knows so much about web design? I have a DipHE in Internet Technology and Honours Degree in Computing and IT Practice. My dissertation was also on Interaction Design. 😉 It’s fun to use old skills and have a dabble as part of this project.