Why Mess with the Current Site?
The SimHQ design that has carried the site for the past 5 years was created by guod for the previous owner, Bubba Wolford, in 2003. It was launched on May 19th just-in-time to be premiered at the E3Expo to interested fans and potential advertisers. Back then, html was king and cascading style sheets (CSS) were almost exclusively for typography only. Page creation based on CSS was just emerging.
Indeed, SimHQ has long needed CSS pages and a good content management system (CMS) that allowed global editing of elements. Consider that each time a common element needed changing on article pages, a search-and-replace function went through the html pages then they need to be uploaded in batches. That’s crazy by standards from a few years ago let alone by 2008 standards. It has also kept some very good articles from making their way back online just because of the time involved in reformatting and uploading. So it was imperative a new design implement CSS and eventually, a CMS.
The image above is what the staff and polled members saw as the new design. You’ll see some immediate differences between this image and our current homepage. The rotating background image in the upper left hand corner and the What’s New? section have yet to be added. Coding problems necessitated that we wait until post-relaunch to add these items, and they will be picked-up again for inclusion once more critical items are finished.
We’ve obviously simplified things on the homepage and given prominence to the article content and expanded navigation. We’ve added a menu across the top that will give you access to the key places on the site, including of course, the forums. We recognize it’s a change, and a big change, but we believe as you become more comfortable with it, you’ll find it easier to locate items on the site.
Eventually, the entire site — articles, forums and special pages (such as photo pages and listing pages for articles) will use the same header formatting and side navigation. From our research, integrated sites, or sites where there is forum and articles based content will be more uniform and blended. Currently some sites have homepages that look like forums with photos stuck in them. That will give way to a more finished appearance. For right now, only the homepage and the forums have the new layout. Other pages will follow once those are debugged and the features are set. We’re still learning what you like, and don’t like in the Suggestions Forum thread dedicated to the topic.
What about the SimHQ Simulation News?
For it’s entire lifetime, SimHQ has carried the News on it’s front page. With the new design we have moved News to it’s own page. Why?Because to do the news “right” we believe it needed it’s own page. Also, there have been complaints that readers had to dropdown past the article promotions to get to the news. A link to the News is at the very top right of the homepage, and every forum page. When completed, every page will contain the link. Some inside news about the news. For the staff, few items on the new site have been as controversial as moving the news off the front page. We will see what you think by tracking the page hits for the next several weeks. It it warrants, it could move back later, but for now, it has a new home.
A reminder if you have news you’d like posted, send it via private message to the news contributor(s) that are listed for each section.
If you are looking for the Daily News Archive, you will find a link to it on the side navigation menu. It’s still a work-in-progress regarding reposting of the early years, but each week is listed from 2003 forward once you click the year. It’s fun to look back on what was hot hardware and the anticipated sims “back when”.
Now let’s turn to the forums.