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Website Note: PaddlingLight Got a Facelift

New web design for PaddlingLight

Just a note in case you haven’t clicked through to PaddlingLight recently: we got a facelift! After years and years of the old design, we updated the look and features. This was one of those things that was on the back burner, but with Google’s recent changes to search we were forced to do it or risk losing our page ranks on mobile. Many of our readers are reading on tablets or smartphones, so it also made sense to make the change.

Screenshot from the mobile friendly size.
Screenshot from the mobile friendly size.

The two goals with the redesign were:

  • Make the website responsive for all screen sizes. You can see this in action by resizing your browser or surfing to PaddlingLight using a tablet or smartphone. This helps with usability.
  • Make the pages load significantly faster. To that end, we simplified, simplified and simplified. Sort of like traveling lighter by canoe and kayak.

We’re happy with how everything worked out. Unfortunately, we lost a feature in the process. On the front page, we no longer show the most recent articles and the most recent reviews in separate columns. They’re mixed together in one longer feed. There are still category pages for each category: Reviews and Articles. It seems like all the glitches are ironed out. For example, it took a bit of redesign to make the online store look good. But, it seems like it is working and functional. Sidenote: The redesign also gave us the opportunity to more easily call out guest authors. If you want to write a guest post, email me with an idea and we’ll develop it together.

If you notice anything odd, please, let us know. We’ll need to know what you see (screenshots are awesome) or what happened. We’ll need to know what browser and version you use and what operating system and version you use.

If you’re a longtime reader of the website, you know that we were trying to decide what to do with the free canoe and kayak plans. You can see our concerns about the project here. Basically, we give away about 6,000 free plans a year. The idea was to give the plans away and then make money on the updated nesting drawings. It didn’t really work out. So, while we’re not ready to give up the free drawings, we’re willing to try something new. Over the next few months all the drawings are migrating into the online store, and we’re installing a pay what you feature. You’ll be able to pick up the drawings for free or pay us if you find it valuable.

And now a pretty picture:

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canoeist in the BWCA
Paddling on the Kelso River through lily pads. Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, MN. Paddlers: Eric and Alyson Hansel

4 comments

  • Why in heavens do you use that ugly grey for text. Are you too broke to use full black. Grey is lots harder to read than Black on White. Yes I know this the rage these days, but it makes me think your toner ran out of the printer. If your CEO’s printer looked this crapy (S)he’d insist on a new toner cartridge.

    mike

    • Thanks for the constructive feedback. We don’t have a CEO, but I do have a laser printer set on econo mode. It prints a light black text that borders on grey. It saves the toner and allows many more pages per toner cartridge, which not only saves money but is better for the environment.

      The text color on this version of the website is #171617, which is pretty dark. The last version of PaddlingLight actually had a lighter grey text for many years and a white background. Later, we changed that to a grey background and almost black text. We went with a white background and a darker text this time, but going completely black on white is considered too high contrast and hard on the eyes when viewed on a computer screen. Both versions of PaddlingLight used approximately the same contrast ratios. Arguably, this version might be better for dyslexics.

      For a demonstration of the difference between what we use and pure black, open each of these links into two new browser tabs and then click back and forth between the two and read the text.

      Black on white
      Almost Black on white

      p.s. I checked out your blog and you’re using color #333, which is actually grayer than what we use here.

  • It is crisp black on bright white on my phone, tablet, and computer screen!

  • Oh snap Bryan! My group of paddlers has always found your work to be top notch and the naysayers comments pedestrian

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