Structural challenges

The ambitous scope of the timeline section

Most of this redesign’s structural challenges pertain to the timeline section, previously described thusly:

Since the projects section is a higher priority and the new parts of the timeline may not even be included in the site’s initial launch, it’s tempting to just put the timeline on the back burner. But here’s the thing: the timeline’s structural challenges will inevitably introduce technical challenges, which will have a big influence on what tools I use to build the site. I want to pick the right tools the first time, and I’ll give myself a better chance of doing that by working out the specifics of the timeline concept now and trying to wrangle it into a good user experience that’s technically feasible.

However, I’m only willing to go to so much trouble to make the timeline a reality, so if it turns out that what I have in mind is too architecturally convoluted in terms of UX and/or execution, I’ll scale the concept back until I find the right compromise. But let’s start by thinking big.

My V6 blog currently contains 544 posts from 39 sources. That 544 number is a bit misleading, because a number of those posts are digests of many smaller posts. For example, I used to publish a haiku every weekday, and rather than make each haiku an individual post, I collected them in monthly digests. Similarly, film reviews I’ve written on Letterboxd that are fewer than 100 words are collected in annual “loose ends” posts. I did this mainly for two reasons:

  1. I wasn’t crazy about the idea of an entire webpage devoted to just a few words.
  2. It’s a static site made with Jekyll, which means more posts make for longer build times. (The site currently takes about 40 seconds to build, due to a variety of factors.)

The former doesn’t bother me so much anymore, but it does introduce design challenges. The latter is emblematic of the technical challenges that may lie ahead, especially considering that I’m trying to add a lot more content. Here are the biggest troublemakers:

Even if most of the content to be added is bite-sized, accounting for each of those bites is a big task: the number of individual posts on the site will grow more than 20 times. Compounding the technical complexity introduced by that sheer volume are issues of taxonomy and UI. Some of the many open questions:

Next up: sketches and research!