The History of iSoaker.com .:
The iSoaker.com 2009 Update features a number of stylistic and design streamlining on pages throughout the site. The main page sports a cleaner look to the previous 2008 (Mid-Summer) update, also undergoing a number of streamlining changes and enhancements. The prominent background colour has returned to white, offering a new clean slate upon which to build. The upper nav bar for the main page now only contains the iSoaker.com "Splash" graphic. Text-links to the three main sections on iSoaker.com adorn the header as opposed to having more icons. As well, multiple expandable panels containing all sub-section links are included on the main page, making the majority of the site accessible from the main page alone! For inner pages, the header remains the same as the splash page; bread crumbs have been moved back to their original position at the top of the content area. Inner pages have also been given a little more graphical detailing while attempting to remain clean and easy to read.
A lot of work has gone into trying to make good inner content of the site easier to find. Every page on the site should also be ~5 clicks or less from every other page. The water blaster analyses and reviews section has been worked over as well with much more inner-linking created as well as external links to other sites with reviews posted as well. Of course, with the new year just around the corner, we anxiously await more news on the new blasters appearing in stores soon!
2009: September Update
The biggest change to iSoaker.com has more to do with its related site, iSoaker.net. While originally borne from the now removed iSoaker.com Forums, iSoaker.net was built originally to be a general community-type forum and ran well during its time. Unforunately, with having severely limited free time these days, it was decided to convert iSoaker.net from its general community set-up to a much more iSoaker.com-focussed design. In a complementary fashion, all review pages on iSoaker.com now have a link to their corresponding thread at iSoaker.net for review discussions. iSoaker.com review pages have also been streamlined a bit more as well, with images, videos, and internal images being sorted out. As for the rest of iSoaker.com, there are some additional updates underway, planned for future updates, but need more time to be developed properly.
More changes made to both iSoaker.com and its related site, iSoaker.net. iSoaker.net was scaled back in late 2009, but seeing no significant benefit in its scaling down, it was decided that it would make more sense to run it as a full community site. iSoaker.com, itself, had some of its graphical elements altered to match better with iSoaker.net. Of course, for iSoaker.com, more changes and updates to its content has been the primary focus with more reviews and an update of the Water Warfare section well underway.
2011: New Looks for a New Year
The last time iSoaker.com had a dark theme was back in 2004. Roughly 7 years later, it's back, but with a twist. Thanks to CSS layering, main sections remain lighter while the background has been given a blue-to-dark blue gradient. Other aspects from graphics in the headers and footers have been improved with more user feedback given when hovering over various lniks.
Of course, changes made are more than just aesthetic. The main page now features a random set of items from the iSoaker.com Database; the Product Analyses Listing page has gotten more functionality with ordering and filtering results; and numerous pages, links, images, and more have been fixed and/or improved. This update for 2011 is undoubtedly one of the more significant upgrades made to iSoaker.com in a long time.
Enjoy and soak on!
2012: Enter the Dragon
Launched for Chinese New Year (2012), iSoaker.com updates with a site-wide reorganization of top-level categories, bringing Repairs, Tech, and Stories to the front (and re-promoting the Galleries section). This led to a filling of the top-level navigation, but also removal of the sub-navigation menu, making the overall header smaller and leaving more room for page content.
While this affects the organization of the entire site, the idea is to make some of the inner content easier to find. However, this is but the beginning of upgrading the site overall. More changes to the back-end are already underway with more content and updates planned for this fresh, new year.
Onwards to spring!
Leave NO one dry!
2012: Upgrades Continue
February, 2012, begins the biggest back-end change to iSoaker.com since the 2008 conversion from ColdFusion to PHP. This is something I had considered doing for a year or so now, but this year just felt like the right time to make the change.
On top of the existing active pages, a good chunk of iSoaker.com now makes use of the WordPress platform. Having developed to be much more than a simple blogging tool, the use of a partial WordPress back-end allows iSoaker.com to bring forth a lot of new features (e.g. user accounts and better integrated search) without needing to build that functionality from scratch. As well, by using a well supported platform, we can be sure that any holes found would be quickly remedied far faster than I could do on my own.
Furthering the site-wide reorganization of top-level categories, a couple of the top-level links now point to the appropriate WordPress-based pages and categories. Also, a number of articles are now migrated over into WordPress format for better indexing by search engines.
That said, iSoaker.com will remain a hybrid site for the foreseeable future. While WordPress offers great new capabilities, what the future holds for online application development is continually changing and I do not wish for iSoaker.com to become overly dependant on any particular platform. As such, the review section remains untouched as do a number of other notable pages. However, most user-submitted articles (with the exception of water blaster reviews) are being migrated over.
Overall, the hope is for the new capabilities to match well with the existing site and open up new opportunities for site development. This should prove to be a fun year!
Onwards to spring!
Leave NO one dry!