PacketU Site Enhancements

Over the past few weeks, several minor tweaks have been made to the PacketU site. The point of these changes is to help site navigation and improve the visitor experience. This brief article outlines some of the enhancements and serves as an open request for comments regarding shortcomings in the design of the site. The features I want to talk about fall into the following four categories:

Navigation

As with many blogs, PacketU started from nothing. Initial content was sporadic and the subject matter was unpredictable. Over time, the direction, subject matter and publishing schedule became much more consistent. This weekend, I reviewed the subject of the content and re-categorized everything from scratch. All of the old categories were removed and recreated based on the categories that I think fit the various readers who visit this site. The categories fall into two major sections–Certification and Technology. Within each of these categories several subcategories are found.

The easiest way to access an entire category or sub-category is through the menu at the top of every page. Choosing the category allows the visitor to say the major category, including all sub-categories. Drilling down to a sub-category further filters the view. The Home button returns to an unfiltered view of everything.

In addition to the work done on categories, tags were also cleaned up. After cleaning up and limiting the words, a tag cloud was created in the lower right column. This gives visitors the ability to visibly see which topics are most commonly published on this site.

Following

RSS Feeds have always been available on PacketU. However, feeds are not always browser friendly. As a result, Feed Burner has been incorporated into the “Follow” widget. Other WordPress default feeds will remain in place for power users. This should allow all users to very simply follow the main RSS Feed, while allowing other users the ability to filter to any of the newly created categories.

To access the main RSS feed, simply choose the orange icon in the right column from anywhere on the site. To receive a filtered feed of articles, simply navigate to the desired view with an RSS Friendly Browser and look for the RSS icon in the location bar. Although different from browser to browser, typically a right click will give the subscription options. Alternatively, the feed can be manually created by adding “feed” to the end of any category or tag url.

In addition to the easy to use RSS Feed, the ability to receive email notifications has been added. The link to configure this is in the right column, directly under the RSS Feed. The links to follow via Twitter, Facebook and to connect via LinkedIn have been present for some time and remain unchanged.

Sharing

At the end of every article, “Share This” has been implemented to encourage readers to share content with their friends, coworkers and family who also may be interested in the topic. The growing PacketU community is my greatest motivator to keep the site going. If you believe you know someone else who would find an article useful, please take the time to share it with them. Moreover if you enjoy an article, take the time to share it on your social network of choice. Your effort to spread the word is greatly appreciated.

Interaction

A few weeks ago, the PacketU comment system was migrated from native WordPress to Disqus. While Disqus requires its own authentication, they make it very simple. Additionally, it gives those commenting several options for integrating into social network platforms and for notifications when others comment or reply to a comment.

Mobile

A theme was added and the caching configuration was changed to send mobile users to a mobile friendly site by default. Users with advanced mobile devices who wish to see the full site can disable the mobile version and view the full site.

I hope these changes will benefit readers by allowing them to access the site and view the content they desire. PacketU is continually looking for ways to improve the content and delivery. Please help by telling others about PacketU. Additionally, tell us how we’re doing by posting positive or negative feedback as comments. Alternatively, use the “Contact Us” form from the menu above. I’d love to hear from you.

About Paul Stewart, CCIE 26009 (Security)

Paul is a Network and Security Engineer, Trainer and Blogger who enjoys understanding how things really work. With over 15 years of experience in the technology industry, Paul has helped many organizations build, maintain and secure their networks and systems.
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