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FutureTimeline 5.0


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#41
wjfox

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Hi guys and girls,

 

Just thought I'd give you an update on the mobile/responsive site redesign, which I know has taken an absurdly long time. I began working on it some time in 2014 or 2015... I can't even remember now; it's been at least a couple of years though.

 

There are several reasons it's taken so long:-

 

1. Initially, I tried using pre-made template services (e.g. Duda), but wasn't overly impressed, and there were a couple of technical issues I didn't feel comfortable with. It became clear that FT would look better if I used my own style/layouts. So I began creating my own templates manually, entirely hand-coded, but this took far longer than expected. The menus, in particular, required some fairly detailed JavaScript and CSS.

 

2. There are many inconsistencies between the various browsers/platforms, and it's taken a ridiculous amount of testing (via BrowserStack) to get everything looking and working correctly on every device, screen size, OS, and browser. Sometimes, even a simple change can take an entire day.

 

3. FT isn't my full-time job. It's something I do in my spare time (i.e. evenings and weekends). Alongside this, I have to keep the main site updated with predictions, blogs, etc. on a regular basis, which further restricts my time. Of course, I could devote all of my spare time to the mobile site, but then I'd lose traffic and visitors if the main site wasn't being updated (!). I also need time for a social life.

 

4. By far the most complicated thing was the homepage. This one page – alone – took almost a year. Once it was finished, however, I had many elements I could use on other pages, simply by copying and pasting from the homepage, e.g. the menu navigation. Therefore, progress has accelerated in recent months.

 

---

 

So here we are, in the summer of 2017, and there is light at the end of the tunnel... at long last. :) The screenshot below shows the footer at the bottom of a typical page, with the various sections and sub-sections. I will briefly describe the progress on each (click to enlarge).

 

 

responsive-site-030717.jpg

 

 

 

Homepage – 100% finished

 

Latest Updates – 100% finished

 

Timeline – 100% finished

 

Blogs – The main landing page is finished, as are the individual sub-sections (AI & Robots, Environment, Space, etc). It's only the individual blogs themselves that still need doing.

 

Features – 95% finished

 

Community – 95% finished

 

 

So it's really just the individual blog pages that need shifting to the new format. There are more than 1,500 of these. However, I can borrow elements from other templates I've done, with a few minor tweaks. I can then do a find-and-replace to convert all the old pages to the new responsive style.

 

I will probably take a week's holiday in the next month or so, and devote that entire week to updating the blogs and other remaining stuff, which means FT can hopefully re-launch some time in August. There are some other final things I'll need to sort (e.g. SSL), but again these shouldn't take long.

 

It's really exciting to see years of hard work finally coming to an end. Being in a responsive format will greatly enhance the site, making it quicker and easier to browse, as well as improving our SEO ranking and hopefully our ad revenue too. And once it's done, I'll have far more time to work on the main site and do what I love, i.e. writing future predictions.

 

As you may notice from the screenshot above, I'm introducing some new sections too (e.g. Artwork, Data & Trends, Interviews, and the return of our opinion polls). Hopefully even more sections will be added in the coming months/years – such as book and film reviews, lists of futurology conferences, other calendar events, etc. I may even do some competitions where readers can win prizes.

 

Thanks for your patience everyone, I look forward to relaunching FT, and then we can start on PT... :biggrin:

 

Will


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#42
Time_Traveller

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Ooo, Looking great. :)


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“One, remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Two, never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it. Three, if you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don't throw it away.”

 

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#43
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Video section is now 100% complete – I spent all of today working on it.

 

So, just the individual blogs now... and the template for them is pretty much done, since I can just duplicate the Videos template.

 

I'm a bit worried about doing such a massive find-and-replace (i.e. 1500 pages), so I might have to do some test runs.

 

I figure I will have to enclose the old code in two spans, top and bottom, with the actual blog text sandwiched in between. These top and bottom tags will be stripped out, and replaced with the "new" top and bottom. So basically, the top half will be everything from the banner down to the blog date, and the bottom half will be everything from the "Follow us on Twitter" element onwards. Anyway, enough rambling here. We're on track for an August relaunch. :)


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#44
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Just a quick update. I thought I'd be able to finish it last week... but then a fairly major problem came up.

 

The blog pages were (and still are) the only remaining section left to do.

 

I created a new template for the earlier blogs (2010-2012), and was ready to find-and-replace the various chunks of code. But then I discovered that Dreamweaver has a character limit for this action. I looked around on the web for other programs able to handle massive long strings of code, but was unable to find any.

 

Then today, I found a workaround in Dreamweaver. I can break the code into smaller chunks, and do a larger number of (smaller-sized) find and replaces. It's a bit more time-consuming than I'd hoped, but is manageable.

 

To cut a long story short – the earlier blogs (2010-2012) are now complete. The later blogs (2013-2017) have a slightly different design and coding, so I'll be doing those over the next week or two.

 

After those blogs, we're pretty much done, apart from the very final touches, i.e. insertion of adverts, social media buttons, etc.

 

So I'm hoping the FT relaunch can happen this month, assuming no further problems... (!)


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#45
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As you've probably seen by now, the responsive site is up and running! Finally! Thanks everyone for your patience during this long, long process.

 

http://www.futuretim.../2017/11/28.htm

 

There are still a few things to iron out – such as faulty advert codes, one or two styling issues, and the search engine that's broken. I'm working on these right now. Please let me know if you come across any other technical problems and I'll do my best to fix them.

 

I want to add SSL encryption at some point. This will further boost our search ranking. I'll be upgrading the server as well to handle more traffic.


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#46
rennerpetey

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I don't know if this is on purpose or accident, and I realize that it is a very minor issue, but when you go to register as a new user, at the bottom of the page there is a box that you must check that says that you acknowledge the terms of use and will abide by them (not the exact wording, but you know what i mean), and the words Terms of Service are highlighted and have a link attached to them, but when you click on them, it just takes you to the top of the page and not an actual Terms of Service. 

 

I know this is minor, but I personally know people who would have a problem with this as they like to read everything before they join a new site.


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Spoiler

#47
BasilBerylium

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Also: why the forum is hidden in "community" tab?


TESTING


#48
rennerpetey

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Also: why the forum is hidden in "community" tab?

I also agree that we should promote the forum more


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John Lennon dares you to make sense of this

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#49
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There are hundreds of broken links, many dating back to 2009.

 

http://www.brokenlinkcheck.com/

 

I'll be going through and checking/updating these in the next few days. Google is pretty strict when it comes to ranking sites based on dead/broken links.

 

In other news, the SSL encryption is almost complete.



#50
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I may have identified a major reason for the decline in traffic since our relaunch. While many pages have been slimmed-down, the main homepage is taking far too long to load. Although it's now responsive, there is simply too much stuff on it. I just had a notification on Google Analytics that provided me with an "intelligence report". This shows a fairly sharp increase in the page load time for index.htm – from an average of 6 seconds pre-launch, to about 12-14 seconds now (and even longer for the most recent period).

 

People usually decide whether to leave a site (known as the "bounce" rate) within the first few seconds of entering it, and since a huge chunk of our traffic first enters the homepage, this is obviously a critical issue. I'm feeling disappointed with myself for not identifying this problem sooner and it seems pretty obvious now in hindsight. So today I'm working to fix it!

 

 

homepage-load-times.jpg


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#51
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In fact, not just the Index page, but also Latest Updates, and others... I will go through and change everything I can.

 

My mistake when creating the mobile site was to focus only on screen size optimisation, while largely ignoring the page loading times.

 

Another major issue has been the ongoing rise of AdBlock etc. which has severely affected our revenue. I have some ideas for addressing that too.



#52
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I've now finished my redesign of the homepage. It should load a bit quicker now.

 

https://www.futuretimeline.net/

 

Actually, I had finished the mobile/tablet version a few weeks back. Today I completed the desktop version.

 

It hasn't been tested on a Mac, so I hope it looks okay. Let me know if any layout/CSS problems.


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#53
wjfox

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Next things I want to do:

 

– Redo the top menu/navigation, so it's purely CSS. The current version is heavily JavaScript-based, which is slow to load.

 

– Fix the SSL certificate. This is already installed and working. However, I need a server-side forcing to make all pages automatically display as https (rather than plain http). Actually I did try this before, but it messed the forum up, which brings me to my next task...

 

– ... creating a new forum, able to properly handle SSL. I will probably go with vBulletin as that's the cheapest, and has great features.

 

– Redesign the latest updates pages, so they load faster on mobiles. That means smaller thumbnail images.

 

– Implement a "lazy loading" solution, so images only appear when they're scrolled over (as opposed to loading the entire page at once). The coding for this looks complicated, but would vastly improve our page load times.

 

 

Now you can see why PastTimeline is so delayed, because there's so much other stuff I need to do first.


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#54
BasilBerylium

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which brings me to my next task... creating a new forum, able to properly handle SSL.

:unsure:


TESTING


#55
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A couple more optimisations I've added:

 

Leverage browser caching – server-side code, which tells your browser to "remember" pages, by storing most of the regularly-used elements in the cache, i.e. saves having to load them each and every time

 

GZIP compression – this is amazing and I only learned about it recently. The server is now configured to "compress" pages before they're sent across the web. This offers a massive reduction in HTML size. We're talking 90%, or about 0.25 MB per page, a significant fraction of the overall page size. This will be especially useful on mobiles.

 

These, alongside our recent SSL upgrade, have already improved our traffic, and begun to reverse the disastrous decline we saw in recent months.

 

Today I'll be adding a couple more:

 

Load Google Fonts Asynchronously – tells your browser to delay using our fancy Google fonts (the ones you see in the bold headings, etc.) until last. In other words, more important stuff is loaded first, allowing you to view and read content more quickly, and the Google fonts are the final thing to be loaded.

 

Pure CCS menu navigation – I'm creating a new menu at the top. It will look almost the same, but using only CSS. The current version relies on a mass of JavaScript that is quite slow to load. When I say slow, we're only talking a few tenths of a second... but believe it or not, even adding an extra 0.5 seconds to the page load time is enough to drive some visitors away (according to Google's machine learning algorithms), so if I can shave a little extra off, it will improve our retention/bounce rate! :)

 

There isn't much else I can do beyond this. I've thought about Lazy Loading, but it seems quite complicated, and the optimisations I'm doing above will be enough to substantially improve things for the time being.


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