Redesign phase 1: Metadata (keywords and description)

September 21st, 2004

I’ve been working out the complete redesign process of this site. It not only involves a visual overhaul to the front end GUI but to the inner workings behind the scenes and under the hood. I’ve now implemented something I’ve been working on for sometime – metadata. Whilst many believe that meta tags such as keywords and description are a thing of the past (they don’t really effect Google), I’m of the opinion that even if the keywords tag is not massively useful, the description is. And now I’ve modified the CMS to output a brief description for (nearly) every page on the site.

I’ve also made the first step away from using Microsoft’s technology, ASP, as the server-side language. The aim is to eventually use the easier and better-supported open-source PHP instead. So the main blog is no longer using ASP include files. For the time being, I’ve moved over to the Movable Type template include modules. As many of you know, I plan to move over to Textpattern eventually so I’m hoping that Dean Allen’s fab CVS, Textpattern will port this facility. Even if it doesn’t, I’ll just use PHP includes instead. The main problem with using PHP over ASP is that I’m currently on a Windows server. Whilst PHP is installed on this server, it’s a lot less easy to use than with Apache. PHP, MySQL and Apache are without a doubt the best open-source web solution out there.

I effortlessly set up these technologies here at work and on my home PC. A little tinkering with the Apache httpd.conf and .htaccess files enables some really great functionality that just isn’t available on IIS. So maybe I’ll look to switch hosts, or enquire from my existing host to see if a UNIX server is available to use. The security benefits are obvious but it would also be nice to have a little more server-side control that Apache enables the administrator.

So, aside from introducing new metadata, phase 1 involves preparing the site to move away from proprietory/expensive technologies (IIS, ASP, Movable Type). Phase 2 will be a little more radical – inevitably changing all the site URLs and reshaping the information architecture. Phase 3 will see the new design slotted into place and all those usability bits and bobs ive been toying with finally getting added. Some fun ahead then.