Building a Better Blog

As you may have noticed, things have started looking a lot better around here.  I thought it was worth taking a moment to mention some of the new features I’ve been working on – features that should make your experience on tannerhelland.com better than ever before.

Totally Revamped Site Search

The normal WordPress search function leaves a lot to be desired – but with the help of a couple excellent plugins, you can turn blog searches into something surprisingly intuitive and useful.  Some of this site’s recent updates include:

  • Tags, categories, URLs, meta data, and comments are now searchable.
  • Search terms are now highlighted, and appropriate excerpts are shown on the search results screen.
  • Search results are sorted by relevance – not date.
  • Searches that return multiple pages now have a “jump to page” feature (unlike the former “previous page” and “next” page only).

Iconified Links

Outgoing links now have a Wikipedia-like icon (like so), and each outgoing link will spawn a new tab/window.  Links to downloadable files will also show an appropriate icon, (i.e. zips or mp3s).

Improved VB Code Zips

A good chunk of this site is dedicated to game programming, so I’ve taken the time to go through each code .zip file and clean it up.  Now each .zip includes a README file, proper comments, and the most up-to-date version of my award-winning FastGraphics class (which gives easy access to DIB sections).  I’ve also removed useless files (like .vbw) to keep .zip sizes down.

Minor Aesthetic Changes

Some small aesthetic changes have crept onto the site, including more use of orange (orange is a grossly underutilized web color, IMO), some font adjustments (to make titles more readable), and the addition of a new “Now Playing” box in the top-right.  I figure this will provide a fun insight into my eclectic music collection.  :)

SEO galore

This feature has mostly happened behind-the-scenes, but I’m happy to say that SEO most definitely works.  After several weeks of research and behind-the-scenes tweaking, this site now plays much friendlier with search bots.  As a result, traffic from searches has more than quadrupled in the last month, and my hope is that it continues to grow.  More traffic = more advertising revenue = a bigger and better site for everyone.

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Many thanks to all my visitors for your interest and comments, and I hope to have some big, exciting announcements in the next couple weeks.  Stay tuned!

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