About This Website
The earliest versions of this site
The first version of this site was created in 1999 using basic HTML written on a Mac with SimpleText. It had a green and cream color palette and used tables to position the page elements. Since creating HTML code for tables in a text editor was difficult, I developed a method that allowed me to create the tables in Excel, using empty columns as placeholders for the table tags. Then I would use various search and replace or paste steps to fill in all the tags. This reduced coding errors and allowed me to modify or create new table-based pages more quickly.
In 2002 I began experimenting with rollovers and more advanced text styles such as dropcaps. The color scheme and basic layout didn’t change for several years, though, and the site remained table-based. Behind the scenes, I tried incorporating open-source databases (calenders and contact management tools) to make the site more useful for myself when I was at client locations, but found they were often poorly written or subject to hacking, so I eventually removed them.
2007: Finally, a much needed update
In 2009 I did another major overhaul to try and address various navigation issues. I had been dealing with an increasing amount of content by adding “More Information” links to the bottom of my pages. However, they often ended up “below the fold” and users weren’t seeing them. I knew I would be adding quite a bit more information because of the IRS changes to the form 990 (which affected several bookkeeping clients). I had also been doing more typesetting work and wanted to add information regarding how to set up books or other long documents in Microsoft Word, and put up at least a minimal typesetting portfolio. All this meant re-thinking how the site navigation worked, since the existing issues would only get worse as I added new material. To solve this, I created automatically generated lists of related content, which appeared in the upper right of each page and changed depending on where you were in the site.
The current site
The latest overhaul emphasizes SEO and usability. I changed the stylesheets again so the site width is no longer fixed-width and font sizes are relative, making it easier for users to view content on various devices and to resize text (between laptops and ipads, we are back to 13" or smaller screens, so the site needs to accommodate that as much as possible). I've added incoming rss feeds on various pages that I think would be of interest, as well as outgoing feeds from the site, and made more documents available for download. I rewrote the error pages to automatically redirect visitors following outdated links to existing pages or to use the built-in site search to provide a list of alternatives if a page can’t be found (some of my content is heavily linked from other sites, and many of those links are outdated).
The current site is PHP-based. Although the search and FAQ’s pages depend on databases, the rest of the site doesn’t. All pages share common elements and code, but each is written individually. This allows me to modify any page as needed without being limited to a few standarized templates in a site-wide content management system. The navigation and internal page links update automatically when I add or move files, reducing overall site maintenance.
Looking to the future
Although almost all the content on my site is text-based, I would like add images to create more visual interest. Based on site statistics, I’ll continue adding content, tools and general information, as well as highlighting the services I provide that people aren’t finding as often as I would like. Pages like the What's the Real Cost of an Employee? (online calculator) and Massachusetts Workshare Program receive thousands of visits every month; they meet a genuine need for information whether or not they bring me clients. I would like other sections of the site to see the same kind of usage.