You may or may not have noticed, but Salon has reorganized it’s site structure. It’s merged People in with A & E, Opinion has been given place up top and other sections have moved around on the main menu. Which is great. But delve into a couple of older stories, and suddenly, you’re presented with the old menu again. What’s up with that?
It amazes me that a site the size of Salon is not built with server-side includes. There are so many common elements between every page that should not be recreated for every page. It seems like whoever designed their publishing engine suffered from a serious lack of foresight. Especially as this has already bit them on the ass once before when they moved from their super-slim, borderless look to their current one. Go back far enough, you still get pages with the old look and feel.
The site spits out html, but there is a publishing engine running it – I’ve read an article in Wired about it some time ago. It would seem worth the slight performance hit to have this have some sort of server-side scripting. I mean – were Salon Cold Fusion based, each segment could have been a <cfinclude>, and they wouldn’t have this problem — simply include the new header file, and blammo! new header everywhere. I suspect that they’re also not big on the css front (there’s font tags everywhere). It’s not hard to switch from fonts to css in an existing site either — a little time spent with regular expressions and you’re good to go in no time. I’ve no idea of their financial footing, but I imagine they get enough hits that losing a few Kb of font tags would actually make a difference to their bottom line (I read somewhere that yahoo could probably save millions in bandwidth costs just by getting rid of all their font tags). Plus, they could join the others at the forefront of webstandards support, and remain as cool as I want Salon to be (despite incresing evidence to the contrary).