[ arbor : tree ] + [ borealis : northern ]

Website redesign: Column shift, inline-six :: One more, once!

Website redesign v.3.3:—Early in the New Year, I learnt that the software which had formed the basis for building Arborealis since June, 2014 was no longer supported. This went a long way to explaining why, for several months at least, merely inputting several phrases or switching windows between that software and other programs or webpages brought on the dreaded spinning colour wheel. In the computerscape that is the Mac OS, generally this wheel signifies that your system cannot handle the demands placed upon it by a myriad of tasks, all demanding diva/divo status, subito! Initially, the question then was, which new, bigger computer –both in terms of RAM and storage– was needed to solve the problem? The day, not to mention my bank account, was saved by finding out that the software itself was shedding its functionality by degrees.

Thereafter commenced a frantic search for a replacement web design package or platform. My search ran the gamut, including:

  1. similar programs of the plug-and-play variety, ready to go almost right out of the box—a very popular option for “web designers” of rank amateur status like myself, but which did not permit tweaking with injections of css and html code in order to display tables or footnotes, for example;
  2. one of the, if not the, most prominent platforms in the world today, which can be used to launch a website with minimum fuss by opting for a canned theme, or which can be customized endlessly by plugging in applets (for a price) and/or injections of css and html, but only after learning the platform’s proprietary design code; or
  3. doing it myself, but at what personal cost? What and how much would I have to learn beyond the basic html used to design my first site c.1999? In those days, I used some early iteration of Netscape’s html editor. That was about the only option available if you wanted to have a personal website.

After deciding that the Immensely Prominent International Platform was out of the running, my analysis of the Popular Off-the-Shelf Product was proceeding merrily apace until suddenly, it wasn’t. The sensation was exactly akin to pulling the emergency brake, and jolting to the proverbial screeching halt. In that moment, I had just realized that buying another canned software package might well land me in a situation very like that in which I find myself today. The owners might revamp the product and price it out of reach, cut it from their product line altogether, or sell the company to a third party with plans to capitalize on brand recognition but with no real intent to support the existing, loyal customer base. In any of these scenarios, the website having been held welded to the company’s unibody framework, I would be faced with the same redesign decision all over again.

Perhaps ill advisedly, I opted to overhaul Arborealis myself, even though I’d gotten a sense in recent years that any such endeavour would entail vast swaths of css and internet standards for viewports and flexible or responsive design. At one point while driving (careering through?) a series of steep learning curves, I took a peek under the hood of my current web design software (the one about to be tossed out of the moving car). There, in the html and css folders, were the expected series of codes for content and style, including frames, though far more elaborately written than I’d anticipated. A javascript folder also begged a peek: several files, OK. What’s in this one? Unintelligible code stuff. Many, many lines of it. And in this one? Ditto. And so on, ad dizzeum.

“Ford Six for ’54,” Photograph stylized © Alison Kilpatrick 2020.

Slamming the hood on that level of programming code complexity inspired the analogy of today’s computerized “black box” cars (only your mechanic knows for sure) with yesteryear’s strictly mechanical automobiles—the ones we could change the oil, swap out a distributor cap, or tinker with the timing ourselves. Here, then is the result, or at least Version 1.0 of the 2020 model of Arborealis, composed in a humble, open source html editor with one css stylesheet. Undoubtedly, at least several tune-ups are in the offing to make the code work as hoped.

While a slow-burn-crash, reassess-and-rebuild was not how I’d planned to spend the past ten days, this turning point also presented an opportunity to consider and reorder my research priorites—a subject for another day and at least one or two blog articles!

Begging our readers’ patience while the several hundred pages from the old site are tuned up and added to this one, I will close with warm greetings to all for the New Year. — (penned 12th January 2020.)


“One more, once!” (with apologies to Count Basie.)

After several months’ tinkering under the DIY hood, I’d managed to design a simple, easy to read website with good responsive elements. However, there were CSS and javascript hurdles that could make the motor under the design hood hum—but which computer language tricks I have neither the time nor the inclination to learn.

So while it is neither April nor are we in Paris, I have elected after all for Version 2.1—not built from scratch, but from kit with DIY options. I hope this platform and website design choice will serve the joint purposes of readability and organization of material, while having access to a few of the more sophisticated tools to enhance both our visitors’ experience and the webmistress’s efforts to design and provide structure to the site.

Courage, mes amis, une dernière fois (j’espère).

À la prochaine, Alison
(penned 27th November 2020.)

Source citation for this page: — Kilpatrick, Alison. “Website Redesign: “Column shift, inline-six” :: ‘One more, once!’” Blog article first published to Arborealis, 12th January 2020, revised 27th November 2020; online at, accessed [insert date of access].