You might have noticed that there have been some changes at Wildfire Today over the last week. I wanted the site to load faster and it needed a facelift so I hired a graphic artist and a software developer to tweak the layout, the back end, and the header at the top of the page .
We didn’t shut down the site to do this, so you might have seen some unusual behavior off and on. It was kind of like changing the oil strainer on a Martin Mars while in flight.
I think it’s very close to complete, but if you run across something that appears to be broken or does not work well, let us know in a comment on this article, or contact us by email.
Here is a list of what has changed:
- Faster. The site loads more quickly.
- New Site Search. The previous Google-powered search function that showed ads is replaced by a customized advanced search with filters; pull-down lists that can help zero in on what you’re searching for. You don’t have to select any of the filter items; you can simply enter a term in the search box. You may restrict the search to a particular year or a month. On the “Countries” list the United States is not listed, so if that’s where you think the target may be, just leave that at “Countries”. If you want to narrow the search to one of the other 10 countries in the pull-down list, you’re free to do that. Provinces in Canada and Australia are in the “States/Pr” list along with the 50 U.S. states. “Topics” is a selection of 21 of the most commonly used tags (what the article is about). Tags make it easier for you (and Google) to search for a topic. To date we have used over 1,500 different tags. Some are obviously used more often than others.
- Sort by seven commonly used topics. In main navigation at the top of the page you can click on “Articles” to see posts on one of seven of the most-frequent topics, including recent fires. It uses tags that are applied to articles. Not all articles on Wildfire Today are represented by these seven tags.
- Lazy Loading of images. The images “lazy load”. That is, the ones that are lower down don’t load into your browser until it appears that you are about to scroll down to display that image. So initially you only load what you need, then the loading stops. As you scroll down, more images download. You don’t have to download six articles if you’re only going to view one or two.
- New Header. The header image at the top of the page is new and consumes less vertical real estate.
- The main navigation (Home, Articles, Documents, etc.) was moved to the very top of the page and embedded in a dark background. It now remains visible as you scroll down the page.
- Less white space. There is less empty space at the top of the home page, and the mostly empty column on the left is gone.
- Info at top of article. Below the headline for each article you will now see the original posting date for the article, the category if applicable, tags, and a link to view or leave comments.