Home News Next Home

The New Five-Minute Voyager

March 18, 2001

As you've no doubt noticed, Five-Minute Voyager is looking a little different these days. Why might that be?

In the site's eight months of existence, I've gradually discovered one thing after another that needed or ought to be changed. This has coincided with my increased understanding of some of the basics about the Net and its underpinnings. I'm still very much an amateur, but there were a few points that I slowly realized had to be addressed....

  • First of all, there's frames. I don't hate their guts the way some people do, but on the whole they're just not a great idea. They mess with bookmarking, they're not very portable, they introduce more code where bugs can creep in, and so on. Consequently, the new 5MV layout is frames-free.
  • As mentioned above, portability is an issue. The eye-opener for me here was looking at 5MV in Internet Explorer instead of my customary Netscape -- the difference was serious. I later tried the site in Lynx, an all-text browser for the disabled, and found that it was almost unreadable. That's now been changed. The new Five-Minute Voyager layout is designed to be as accessible as possible on any browser and any monitor. (The most important changes here have involved ALT tags for the images and proportionate widths -- you can resize your window as much as you want, and each page should still look basically the same.)
  • Next is user-friendliness. There are two big changes here: better navigation support and simpler text displays. The first boils down to the addition of strategic links. Every page now links back to the main site, and most to their particular sections as well. (The clock images at the top of the pages are links, by the way.) The second point is just the removal of the old embossed-Voyager background, which was cute but not a great help to readability. The fivers are now displayed in the form that's easiest on the eyes -- black text on a white background.
  • I've had some miscellaneous material that I would've liked to post, but haven't had the chance because of the site's format. I've also seen others' fivers for non-Voyager shows, and while they were often hilarious, I haven't had a place to put them. Those problems have now been solved with an all-new section: Features.
  • Finally, there were a couple of aesthetic concerns. 5MV now has a strong colour scheme: black, gray, and red, with each colour serving a couple of particular purposes. I've also reversed the two main graphics, using the "5" image in the new main banner, and the clock (in a simplified form) on the individual pages. These weren't essential points, but I think they've really improved the site's look.

Anyway...while these were all concerns, none was really pressing, so I wasn't planning to implement the changes for a while yet. However, two things came along to change my mind. The first was my noticing that 5MV's 47th-fiver anniversary was coming up. The second was BoneShintai's server overhaul, which took the site down for a few days. What better time to make the changeover? So I decided to go for it, and the result is what you're seeing now.

Now some acknowledgements. I'd like to thank the following people:

  • BoneShintai, the owner and sysadmin of 3sygma. His generous offer of free webhosting has been a great help to 5MV, and he's given me lots of advice and suggestions to boot. Great guy, folks -- kudos to him.
  • A few friends from Deltachat and elsewhere helped me beta-test the site. Thanks go out to Babyslime, BQ, Pammy, and Caillan Davenport of J-Team fame.
  • Lea Luecking Frost, a longtime 5MV fan, has given me permission to host her Shakespeare fivers here. I thank her -- and you guys will too when you read her stuff.
  • Thanks as well to all who've submitted guest fivers; it's thanks to them that I reached 47 so fast.
  • Last but definitely not least, my deepest thanks go out to all of you who visit my humble online abode. Five-Minute Voyager wouldn't exist without your support, and that's meant the world to me. I hope to pay it back as best I can. Here's to the next 47!

(Got a comment on the new layout? E-mail me. I'd be delighted to get your input, be it compliments, constructive criticism, or destructive criticism -- anything goes.)

Next article: 5MV Layout Changes

Site navigation:
___ News
___ ___ The New Five-Minute Voyager

Five-Minute Voyager and subsites are © Colin Hayman.