Almost four years ago the first design for Real Skeptic was launched, this was on the 30th of November, 2011. A no-frills design, which made it a tad restrictive in what was possible with it. The second incarnation of this design, which was intended to fix some of these limitations, was launched on the 6th of March, 2013.
Version 2 is what most readers are familiar with. Style wise there weren’t many changes but the behind the scenes functionality was changed substantially. It’s this design that introduced the moderation capabilities and the video archives. Over the years more capabilities were added, though not as noticeable for visitors as the previous two that I mentioned.
The past two and a half years this design, and the capabilities it brought, served Real Skeptic very well. Though in 2014 the first cracks did start to show. More and more visitors were accessing content on Real Skeptic with tablets and via their phones. Version 2 wasn’t kind at all to those visitors.
That, and the ageing infrastructure behind the design, were the reasons work was started on a new version to solve all this. It started in April of this year with the move of certain capabilities to modules so that an upgrade would be easier (this included the video archives and the moderation code). Work on the new design starting a few months after that.
Today is the anniversary date for the founding of Real Skeptic which made it the perfect date to launch the new design. Project Tsuno, the project name for version 3, is a complete new design and codebase. All the old code was thrown out and built from scratch to give a more pleasant and consistent experience for visitors.
The new design adapts itself to the device you’re using. It doesn’t matter if it’s a tablet, a phone, or if you’re visiting Real Skeptic with your desktop. To make this possible older browsers are no longer supported and modern techniques are now in use.
How pages are laid out, how information is displayed, and where you can find materials has also drastically changed. Which will take some getting used to, but these changes do make everything far more accessible. Especially for anyone who uses a screen reader. Real Skeptic isn’t perfect, but you now can navigate Real Skeptic if you’re dependent on screen readers.
The coming months development will continue on the new design for Real Skeptic. The launch of version 3.0 is just the start and there will be code releases that fix the occasional issue. So please do report anything that you notice, I can only fix what I know that is broken.
This release also marks the start of more changes to improve Real Skeptic. There are already enhancements planned to make information easier to find. This means that the new design isn’t the final version; this version is made to be adapted and will change over time. How this design will evolve depends greatly on feedback from visitors. Don’t like something or want something added, leave a comment and I’ll see what I can do.
Also thanks to this new design a lot of new projects are possible. In the previous design development wasn’t easy due to some technical restrictions, this was one of the major reasons for the start of this overhaul. Now that these limitations are gone development of upcoming projects has sped up dramatically.
One of these project is a collaboration between Real Skeptic and several other websites. So far two parties have enthusiastically partnered with Real Skeptic when I pitched this project to them. If development and the creation of content progresses at its current pace it should be available before the end of this year.
Until the release of that project I hope you’ll enjoy the new design and might want to contribute content to Real Skeptic.