Late 2023: New Blog Features!
We’ve updated the blog site! Driven by a need to change to a new WordPress theme, I invested more time updating some of the styling, content, and features to make the site more usable for anyone studying for CCNA. I hope you like the changes! The rest of this post describes what changed here in late 2023.
Note: If you see any issues on a post, use the comment feature at the bottom of the page to let me know!
Improved Experience for New Users
This blog has a wide variety and large volume of CCNA study content. However, the old site made new users work to find the purpose and content of the site. The new site should improve that flow for new folks. In particular:
Homepage: Instead of a blogroll with the latest posts, the blog’s homepage introduces the purpose and functions of the site, with a list of the latest posts at the bottom of the page.
Improved Menus: Many people who use this blog also use my CCNA books. The two leftmost top menu items now use the WordPress mega menu feature, which reveals all the menu options. The mega menu feature lets you navigate an extensive menu without tricky mouse movements.
Easier to Find Content by Type: Some people navigate the blog’s content by post type rather than book organization. Those types include: labs, subnetting exercises, Q&A, and so on. The improved menus should also help you find posts by type.
Removed Some Clutter: This blog has been around for almost 15 years. There were a few posts that no one would care about any longer, and I’ve removed those. (It’s down to about 450 posts as of the cutover day.)
Figure: Image of CCNA Volume 1 MegaMenu
Improved Experience for Experienced Users
The site categorizes content based on book part/chapter as well as post type. So, you can navigate the menus and reach a post based on either the book organization or the post type. For instance, a Config Lab post that happens to include topics from the CCNA Cert Guide Vol 1 Chapter 17 can be found in the menus based on looking for Config Labs while also finding the same post looking for content about Volume 1 Chapter 17.
The new site makes these improvements to the navigation once you know about those two approaches to finding posts:
Book Menus Lead to a Blog Roll: The leftmost menu items, one for each CCNA book, use mega menus that list book parts and chapters. Clicking any of those leads to a blogroll page of all posts in the part or chapter you clicked. This works well for exploring all blog content of all types related to that book part or chapter.
Lab Menus Leads to an Advanced Search: The Lab Menu lists book parts. Clicking those options displays an advanced search page of labs from the chosen book part… but also with the advanced search widget open at the top of the page. Using the advanced search options, you can then drill down to a specific chapter if desired.
Advanced Search: The more you use the site and understand the organization, the more you will like advanced search. Advanced search lets you choose categories based on your book reading interest plus the post type, so you can find the small set of posts you want to work with today. You can always click the search icon (upper right, magnifying glass) and click advanced search.
Renamed an Old Lab Type to “Free Play Labs”
The blog has two types of labs. One type, Config Labs, has a succinct descriptive name. The other type gives you a place to experiment (free play) with the scenarios shown as examples in the books. So, to emphasize what you do when using these labs – free play, rather than specific lab steps – I renamed them to Free Play labs.
For more info:
- More info about Free Play Labs
- All Free Play Labs, Vol 1, blogroll
- All Free Play Labs, Vol 2, blogroll
Improved Comment and Subscription
You’ve seen it for a few months here at the blog, but in mid-year 2023, we updated the comment features as part of this project to refresh the site. Some of the key features:
- You can subscribe to notifications about responses to your comments and for notifications of any comments about a blog post.
- The comment area supports much better formatting, code, and images.
- You can even click to like posts without taking the time to comment.
Core Reason to Change: Replace the WordPress Theme
For those who also blog and may be interested… we needed to update the WordPress theme on this site. The small company that wrote and supported the old theme stopped supporting the theme, which created a security risk over time. So, we updated to a new theme (Jupiter). Jupiter has tremendous support behind it and should be an excellent long-term option. The good news is that it also gave me a reason to invest some time in improving other aspects of the site.