If you've been to the site at all in the last day or two, you have probably noticed the fairly drastic design changes. I've spent the better part of 2 weeks redesigning the site and adding several new features, including a discussion forum and an inspiration gallery (website showcase). For all of you RSS readers, be sure to check out the actual site to see the changes - I'm quite proud of the design and think (hope) you'll like it too!
There are several new design changes to the site, most of them carried out to improve usability and make your overall experience more pleasant. One of the first things you'll notice is the new header - I tried to keep it as simple as possible while still providing the necessary navigational links. I've also moved the RSS and social links to the header, so hopefully that will entice you to subscribe to the feed and follow me on Twitter if you're not doing so already. In the previous design, the About, Advertise, Archives and Contact links were at the very bottom of the page and thus received almost zero traffic - I've now moved that to the very top of the page, along with a register and login link for the really cool people who actually join the site (it's free and only takes a second).
I've also changed the way the main content is displayed in an attempt to improve readability and keep the primary focus on content. Font sizes are bigger, line-heights are higher and just for you, my dear readers, I went through all of the posts to change the syntax highlighter code to support CodeColorer, my new syntax highlighter of choice. I went with the dark/vibrant color scheme - let me know if that works well for you guys or if you prefer something lighter (GeSHi?). I also finally got around to adding an author info box at the end of the post, something that's been long overdue.
Lastly, you'll notice a brand-spankin' new footer, complete with a Facebook fan box, RSS e-mail subscription form and a mini-sitemap. There is also a huge button that says, 'Write for us' in big bold letters - please, please consider contributing to DevGrow if you have the time for it.
Introducing DevGrow Discussions
As I mentioned in my first blog post here, DevGrow initially started out as a community for entrepreneurs and investors, a place where they could discuss topics and connect with each other. After two years, I still have an itch to build a community for entrepreneurial developers, web designers and bloggers. DevGrow Discussions is meant to be just that - a place where knowledge and experiences can be shared with the community.
I've limited the forums themselves to cover broad topics: Web Design, Programming, Marketing and General Discussions. The main site and the forum (running bbPress) are fully integrated, so you only have to register once on the site to comment on articles or post in the forums. Check them out and let me know what you guys think!
The last new feature is a website showcase gallery, where you'll find incredibly designed websites and apps. I have plans to expand on this section so it's a bit minimal right now, however you can still comment and rate each gallery entry (thumbs up icon next to the title). Feel free to submit your own site to the gallery if you'd like.
Articles: The Past, Present and Future
I have been pleasantly surprised at the reception of my WordPress and JQuery plugins - it is humbling to see many others benefit directly from your work. I'm working on fixing all issues and bugs on all of them as they are reported, but please keep in mind that I am just one person, so it may take a few days (or weeks) to patch and update.
Redesigning this site has required a lot of work and effort, specifically in creating custom hacks/plugins for WordPress and bbPress to get the results I wanted. That said, I want to make life easier for anyone else attempting to make something similar so I'll be writing a series of posts on how I put this site together, covering:
A Smarter WordPress-bbPress Integration
Caching individual parts of your blog (reduce load, reuse outside of blog)
WordPress Custom Post Types the right way
Participation and Feedback
DevGrow is a community resource. It depends on active user participation and contribution to work - this is the fuel to my fire and the reason I am able to keep writing. There are several ways to participate, including:
Posting in the forums
Submitting in the Inspiration Gallery
As always, I would love to hear you feedback and thoughts on the redesign, new features or DevGrow in general. Do your best (or worst) and thanks for you support!