RT Cunningham

Website Simplification – Reading is More Important than Anything

Before I created my custom WordPress theme, I tried to simplify my website as much as possible. After I finished the theme, I continued trying. I think I’ve reached my limit.

There are things I can probably do better, without mentioning them specifically. I’m limited by what I know – I taught myself everything when it comes to web design and development.

My Website and CSS

CSS, or cascading style sheets, didn’t exist when I made my first foray into designing websites. Even so, I didn’t figure out the right way to use them until this year.

I embed my styles within HTML “style” tags on each page. Linking to an external file would be easier but not more efficient. Perhaps it will be more efficient when I have thousands of pages instead of hundreds.

Website Fonts and Icons

Until a little over a month ago, I included fonts and icons from third-party services. I switched to using social and subscription icons I created from plain text characters. Until today.

Other than form submission buttons, there are only two buttons on this website: The open and close buttons for the hidden sidebar. They’re made from plain text words and CSS definitions.


Avoiding Website Fluff and Shenanigans

You can take what I say for what it’s worth. I hate going to websites and being greeted by a subscription pop-up before I’ve even finished reading the first paragraph. So what if it’s a good method of lead generation. I refuse to do that to my visitors.

I have Google AdSense advertising on this website. The only reason I use it is because I want the website to pay for itself. I’m on a limited budget based on a pension. As long as this website isn’t included in my budget, I’m happy about it.

Unless you’re a frequent visitor, you have no way of knowing what I removed recently when it comes to Google. The first thing I removed, and this was months ago, was the custom search engine. I don’t like keeping things around that are never used. After seeing it unused for more than 90 days, I figured it was time to say goodbye to it.

The next thing I removed was the banner ad that displayed just below the article title. I viewed my website from my phone from time to time and I didn’t like what I saw. The entire page would load before the ad would display. The only possible click would be from someone pausing for some reason before ending up halfway down the page.

The next thing I removed, and it was yesterday, was the Google matched content items just before the comment area. I replaced it with the output from a contextual related posts plugin. The only thing that slows this website down while loading are the remaining AdSense ads.

A Static Website

That’s the simplest term I can use for it and it isn’t completely right. I have the Mate edition of Linux Mint on my laptop. It’s based on Ubuntu, which itself is based on Debian. Nginx, MariaDB and PHP are set up on it almost like it is on my Ubuntu server.

I have the WordPress CMS set up, but only on my laptop. It’s a lot easier for me to write, edit, proofread and make corrections on my laptop instead of online. I use a PHP script to load and save each page and then I upload all the new or changed pages to the server.

My laptop is my web development workstation. My website looks and acts the same here as it does there. The design changes alone would take much longer to test online instead of locally.

To me, reading is more important than anything when it comes to this website. You don’t need distractions unless you’re specifically looking for them, after you finish reading.


October 29, 2017
Web Development

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