Announcing: An LDS Blog Portal for Mainstream, Orthodox Mormons

I am pleased to announce a new LDS Blog Portal focusing on mainstream and orthodox LDS blogs and bloggers:

  • I have rejected the hierarchical box layout of most existing portals. All blog post titles aggregated on appear at the top, above the fold, and move down as newer content becomes available. Not only is this layout more usable, because readers do not have to wander from box to box looking for new content (since new content is always at the top), but I believe that this layout places all the blogs on equal footing and in that way is more in harmony with the spirit of Zion.
  • In addition to aggregating blogs that specialize in LDS topics from a mainstream viewpoint, I am also aggregating content from bloggers who are mainstream LDS members but whose blogs are not primarily about LDS topics as well as RSS content from Official LDS Websites. These three types of content are separated into three sections: LDS Blogs, LDS Bloggers, and Official LDS.
  • I am providing unified RSS Feeds and Email Subscriptions for each section.
  • Visitors can copy and paste an html widget into their own webpage to display recent titles/links from each of the sections on their own blog or website. This, along with the RSS and Email Subscriptions, makes the content distributable and easier to disseminate without forcing people to come to the portal itself.
  • The portal supports Podcasts and Video Podcasts with an embedded player so that aggregated enclosures like video and mp3 audio can be played right on the portal, including General Conference feeds (see examples: audio , video) .
  • The portal generates a unique local URL and preview of every aggregated post with links back to the original blog, feed, and post, intended to help increase the search engine visiblity of aggregated content and blogs.
  • The portal also collects tags based on the tags, categories, and title words in each RSS feed, to be able to find and display aggregated posts on related topics.
  • An experimental feature identifies all external links in each aggregated post. When you view a post preview at the portal, it will identify other aggregated posts that link to the post you are previewing, as well as posts that link to the same websites. This will help readers identify related content based on shared links.

    Future features I hope to build after launch include integration with major social sites like Facebook and MySpace, as well as personal pages like iGoogle, to make the content even more distributable to a wider audience. I also have a mobile version partially complete that will be available as time permits after the launch.

    From a technological perspective, the whole site has been designed in XHTML strict markup and CSS, with modern table-less layout designed to render correctly in all major browsers. It uses Ajax technologies to enhance user experience, but it also degrades nicely when JavaScript is disabled or images are turned off. This will hopefully make it equally accessible to users who visit with screen readers as well as search engine bots.

    A big thank you to all of the LDS Bloggers who tested the portal before launch and for having kept it confidential.

    And thank you to the folks at the Mormon Archipelago and By Common Consent for kicking me off of the portal.

    Oh, and Happy Bastille Day!

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