New Website Launched at donmeltz.com

A major facelift to the old website

If you’ve been here before you’ll notice a whole new look to my website and a few new things have been added. The site has been completely redone from the ground up. Here’s a brief overview of what’s changed:

Integration

Home Page graphicThe primary goal for doing the redesign was to integrate my various online services as much as possible. Previously I had both a website and a blog, but they were hosted in different places and the design was different for each. The same was true for my map site. I also had a file sharing service that was not connected to any of my other services. All of these were functional, but they did not provide a very cohesive experience for my clients and visitors.

So, What’s new, and what’s changed?

News and Blog

Other than the look and feel of the website, the biggest change was the merging of my website and blog into the same space. I’ve added a News category to the blog that will be strictly for announcements of new clients, projects, and other business related content. The Blog entries will continue to be about whatever happens to be on my mind at any given moment, or what I happen to be working on at the time.

maps.donmeltz.com

maps-donmeltzMy online map prototype now has its own spot on the website. This page is what I used to call my GeoSandbox. It has now evolved into a working online slippy-map that I’ve used for a few of my clients. It’s an efficient way to share data and analysis results. It is particularly useful for larger regional projects where paper and PDF maps simply cannot provide the level of detail needed at a scale that will fit on a single printed page. It’s also a great way to publish maps that change frequently. It is surprising how much paper gets used on a single project with multiple map drafts.

Client Area and Gopher

I’m also experimenting with a couple of file sharing options for my clients. Previously, I had been using the DropBox service to post and share files, and it has worked very well. However, there are a few minor limitations I’ve run into. So, I’ve added a spot where my clients can have their own password protected access (Client Area) or open access (Gopher) to the various files that pertain to their projects. This should make it easier for clients to find the documents and maps I’ve produced for them without having to ask me to send them another link or email attachment.

 Mobile Ready

All of the pages here use a responsive design, which means it should provide a nice user experience for those using smart phones and tablets to access the website as well as a traditional computer monitor. If you want to test this, try adjusting the browser window to a very narrow size to simulate a phone screen, and see how it reacts. That’s basically what responsive design means.

For the techno-geeks…

The entire website is written using HTML5 and PHP, with a little javascript thrown in where necessary. I’m using WordPress as my content management system (CMS), and self hosting on an Amazon Web Services medium instance Ubuntu 12.04 server. The same server hosts my OpenGeo Suite map publishing stack. Yes, I know all you bleeding edge types have moved on to hosting your blogs on GitHub using Octopress and Jekyll. But the fact is, WordPress does everything I want it to do and more, with plenty of room to grow. So, here I am.

The WordPress theme I’m using is a modified version of Twenty-twelve. I looked at dozens of other themes, but kept coming back to this one. I finally realized that if I were to build a theme from scratch, Twenty-twelve is probably what I’d want it to wind up being.

So there you have it. Feel free to browse around, and let me know what you think. I’m always open to new ideas and constructive criticism.

– Don

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