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Making my website archives mobile-friendly

By Scott Tibbs, March 18, 2018

I have had a personal website for twenty years now, going back to when I built one on the personal website server for a computer class I took in 1996. Here is the issue: I have never been very good at web design and I have never taken the time to significantly improve my skills. My personal website has always been about content, not design. So as long as I could make a basic shell for the content that made the content readable, I was happy. That is why my site is very minimalist.

Here is the problem. My 1998 web design skills are fine for people perusing my website on a desktop, but not on a tablet and certainly not on a smartphone. The reality is that a majority of web traffic is done on smartphones these days. So while my blog has a mobile friendly theme thanks to the blog hosting service I use, my website is hand-coded and has never been properly formatted for mobile browsing.

I have redesigned the article template to fix that. All new articles that hit the website from this point forward will be easy to read on both a desktop PC and a smartphone, and anything in between.

But here is the issue: Every single article I have on my website is a hand coded HTML website. This means I have a number of unfortunate style choices, and why the skin looks so radically different from year to year before I settled on a design in 2012. So going forward, I can easily put all new articles in a new custom-built mobile friendly format. Everything before that is a different issue entirely.

Even with the new mobile-friendly template, fixing the archives will be an incredibly long, time consuming task. I have written anywhere from 150 to 200 articles a year since 2004, so that alone is over 2000 hand-coded websites to change. I was not nearly as prolific from 1997 to 2002, but I still have over 180 articles to convert to the new format by hand and re-upload.

What this means is that new articles will be in the new mobile-friendly format but reformatting everything for the last twenty years will be incredibly time consuming and labor intensive. It is a project that will likely take several years to complete, even if I devote myself to it. Of course, I am not sure anyone other than me ever actually goes back to look at my old archives, so it is by no means something that is going to take priority in my "to do" list. The main attraction is my blog, not my archives website.