New front page and other changes

I’ve changed the front page for January. It’s a photo of the original Press Briefing Room created by Richard Nixon that I first used back in the fall of 2007.

Also, I’ve changed the menus a little. This puts Air Force 1 and the vice-president’s residence pages on the Home menu and moves About, Q&A, and Site Map over to Overview. However, I haven’t extended the change to every page yet, just the main ones.

My resolution for the new year is to rebuild the site in a format that is easier to maintain in this way, probably using PHP rather than straight HTML, or possibly using a wiki. This would break any links that outside sites have to the current pages, which is something I hate, but I should be able to figure out some automated way of making sure it degrades gracefully (automatic redirects, etc.).

I’m open to any ideas about layout changes. Since I designed the site in mid-2006 (3-and-a-half years ago), the collection of photos for each room has ballooned enormously. I hate galleries of images that are displayed in separate pages or pop-ups, but loading all the images can be tedious.

21 thoughts on “New front page and other changes

  1. I’ve always remembered your comment early-on Derek about how you hated the way many sites hosted photos. My impression of the WHM has always been that the way you have it now is the best way. That’s not to say that some improvements are not needed if some folks suggest something I haven’t thought of.

    Having the photos in order from newest to oldest is a staple of the WHM and I think that should stay somehow.

    I have a fast computer and high-speed internet so the loading time for photos is not an issue for me, but I can see how it may be for others who have slower connections.

    The monthly-changing home page is a nice feature as well. It’s getting harder to find pics perhaps but that’s still not a reason to stop (I hope 🙂 )

    I also love the “What’s New Page”. And the blog is AWESOME. It’s another great way for we fans of the WH to hear from you and comment.

    I think I click on the WHM about a dozen times a day. It’s a great place to visit. I hope any changes made will help to keep that ease one feels when navigating/touring around the buildings with their mouse.

  2. Finding new images for the front page isn’t too much of a problem. When I’m slow to do it and/or re-use previous images it’s because it’s a bit of trouble to prep a new image with the white fade, and I already have 40+ front page images I can use.

  3. Ah yes, I too have to spend a little more time trying to get that white fade just-right in some of my own work. Many times I’ve been impressed with your eye for what will make a good home-page photo.

    There can be “Why change what is working already” … but we’ve all seen how online innovation and technology/new ways of thinking can allow us to have amazing new things to see and experience in media. So if your gut is telling you to make some changes, we may find that such changes really take the WHM to new heights.

  4. . . . also . . .

    Is the current configuration of the WHM formatted to also allow for browsing from Blackberrys or Iphones? I don’t own either. I don’t know if I’m using the right terminology or if my technical knowledge of such matters is in error.

  5. WHM is not optimized for mobile viewing, partly because I don’t use a smart-phone and partly because I think it’s primarily an image-viewing experience. I’m interested in anybody who does use a smart-phone to chime in on how the site looks. I’ve looked at it on an iPhone myself and it seemed okay, but I haven’t browsed it extensively.

    This example is the kind of change I’m thinking of at the minimum. I’d really like to incorporate some kind of breadcrumb trail or you-are-here map on each page, but I’m not sure what would work best and be easy to implement. At one time, I started putting little room maps on the ground floor room pages, but I decided that it was too much work and didn’t show the location within the building anyway.

  6. I like this site the way it is now. I use it in the classroom quite a bit. When I need to make a reference to something about the WH or a particular era, it’s very easy to find. I’m sure if there are changes made, I will learn those as well in order to continue using it. It really is nice to be able to find a picture of something and flash it up on the screen. Today in my government class, I was used the example of President Kennedy’s executive order which forbids the removal of anything from the WH. I was able to use the photos of the Kennedy Private Dining Room showing the wall covering Mrs. Kennedy put in place, how it was removed during the Ford years, and then returned during the Carter years. The Carter’s were able to reuse it because it had been preserved and had gone into storage because of President Kennedy’s executive order. Thanks Derek.

  7. Count me as someone who likes having all the photos of a room on one page. Being able to scroll down makes for easy viewing.

    One thing I would fix, though, is the relation of “history” pages to their parent pages. For example:

    links to

    but not vice versa. If someone visits the History page from an external link, they can’t easily get to the parent page.

  8. Yes, I would like the title to link to the page you are talking about. Right now I am very fond of your pages as they are easy to navagate and crammed with visual information.

    Thank you and happy new year. Love the new Air Force One page.

  9. Peter,

    You click on the site more times in a day then I do, and I think I check it often! =) Glad to know there are others out there that share my interest and passion of the Presidency/White House and things associated with it! I like the site how it is, and I do think chaning the front page pic every month is great! I say if you could also add detail of something in a room changing, please list that. Example, the oval office door that leads to the portico, it has changed from looking through differnt photos from the past to the present, or the grandfather clock that is in the OO has been there for a long time. Derek, I think I sent you an e mail about that a while back. Same could be said for a famous picture that has hung in the same spot for many years like the one of Lincoln in the State Dining Room, and if that painting is being moved else where. Also I say people can create a profile here on the WHM site. Nothing too major like on facebook, but a profile listing persons first name, location, and then can go on and be WH a questionier (spelling). Pictures on here, like of yours Derek, would show up on blog posts, and thos pics can be our profile pic…and we can choose what pic we want and change it, along with our info at any time.

  10. Derek,

    You have done a great job with the site. Thanks for all your effort and those of others. I really like the RSS feeds with the blog/comments. I was thinking it might be good to have some type of email list, perhaps a simple listserv so you can provide updates on a basis of your choosing.

  11. Browsing on the WHM site, we mention about certain portraits of Presidents. Such as JFK’s portrait in the entrance hall or Clintons portrait, but where in the entrance hall or they hung?Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington hangs in the East Room, but where abouts…? I looked over certain photos carefully of differnt parts to get an idea and figure out where certain paintings are. I suggest maybe listing where abouts a certain portrait is such as JFK’s portrait hangs on the wall outside the Red it seems to appear by photos on the entrance hall. You can even say if its to the left or right side of the door to the Red Room or whatever room may apply to whatever portrait. That gives us an idea as to where we would look and find these paintings if anyone ever gets a chance to be inside the WH.

  12. Also…just to add to my last post, any pictures that shows the location of a certain portrait could be added in the listing. Such as the one of the entrance hall that shows the JFK portrait in the background that appears to be otuside the Red Room, or a picture of where the Stuart portrait of Washington in the State Dining Room hangs. Study the photos and you get an idea, but some might not study photos like I do..since I am into photography. The caption under the photo can tell people where in the photo they can see the portrait and what the portait might by placed by.

  13. Steve,

    I’ve often wondered about this as well. The same way in the floorplans you can click on a hot-spot to a page on each room, in each photo make it so that people can click on something they see in the room, like a painting or a sculpture. And it would then take you to a new page talking about that piece of art.

    Now the issue with this is, as Derek said, the site is ballooning with photos and placing hyperlinks overtop of every piece of art or object of interest could be extremely difficult. But in theory I see where you’re going and I think it’s a great idea. If only there were a way to help Derek do it.

    Like in this photo:

    People could hover their mouse overtop of the Monet painting and it would take them to a new page if they clicked on it.

  14. Yes, that’s something I considered at one time, but there are so many photos that it would be kind of an Easter egg hunt for the visitor to try to find things that are clickable. I also didn’t want to try to have a page for every historical object in the White House. There are already 150 pages for the rooms!

    Still, if there was a reasonable way to present more of the furnishings in a way that is easy to navigate, I might do it.

    I still plan to a create a page on Camp David. I have a map of it and quite a few good photos. Visitor Todd just sent me a link to a fan site.

  15. HI everyone! Love the new section on Air Force One. Thanks for adding pictures of the veg. garden and the activities there!

    Looking at Air Force One. You may want to update a section. You have some of the pictures from this plane already but not where it is now.


    Special Air Mission 970, 971, and 972

    In 1958, Eisenhower added three additional aircraft into the executive branch service. These was Boeing 707 (VC-137) aircraft designated SAM 970, 971, and 972. These were the first presidential jet aircraft. As of January 2010 SAM970 is on loan to the Museum Of Flight from the National Museum of the United States Air Force.


  16. I think a floor plan of SAM 27000 would be great since it was in use for a while. Any floor plans from all the planes that were for presidential use would be great! Also a floor plan for Marine One would also be good!
    Onto another topic, I’m doing a project where I want some great pics of the White House. The pics I want of the WH are during the day, evening as in sunset, and night time. All 3 both for the North Portico and South Portico. Photos must have WH in the center, showing fountain and no fence in the way. No vehicles as well would be prefered. Also the pics should be similar as in day time pic of north side of WH with nice blue sky, pic for south side of WH should also have nice blue sky. All pics must be either medium or large size. Aerial day time photos both from north portico and south portico would also be good, as long as it shows the entire building (residence, west wing, & east wing) not just part of it. I know I’m being picky on this, but trying to make this project the best of the best! Any help as to where this is is really and greatly appreciated! Huge Huge Thank You in advanced if anyone does help.

  17. On the official White House website, there is a photo gallery of images shot by Pete Souza for President Obama’s first year in office. Today 1-20-2010 is excactly one year that President Obama took the oath. Infact, I purposly waited until Jan 20th before being ” a member” here on WHM by posting my first blog. I purposly joined facebook on Jan 20th last year and first thing I did was become part of the group White House Fanatics.

  18. Hi everyone,
    I was reading on the White House Grounds pages that there is an underground walkway from the Ground floor of the West Wing to the Pool Cabana.

    Where is this walkway?
    If it still exists, would it have been through the Situation Room or the Navy Mess. I wonder if the recent renovations to the Sit Room have eliminated the passage.

    It does seem like a frivolous passage though. One would walk down the Colannade, into the West Wing, down the stairs, through the passage and then up again to reach the outdoor pool. One might as well walk across the lawn.

    What other passages might exist from the West Wing? One to the OEOB? We’ve heard of the passage to the Treasury Building from the East Wing. I’ve heard of reporters, advisors, mistresses being sneaked in or out or Presidents sneaking out for ice cream. How truthful are the rumors?

  19. Hi WHM Fan,

    We discovered the story about the passageway to the cabana from a book on the Situation Room. The story reflected mostly on the Carter Admin. and they said it did exist. And yes it was a weird path to take. It might not exist today since the renovation.

  20. There are none over to the OEOB. Tunnel to the Pool is still probably there, but not accessible anymore as it was created for the Carter’s I believe so their daughter wouldn’t have to be seen outside.

  21. Hello,
    I’m doing research on the Tiffany decoration of the White House. It may be that I’m just having difficulty finding my way on the blog here, but the Nest Magazine site is giving me trouble as well. Can you give me more information on the illustration of the Tiffany scheme for the Blue Room? Was there an article that accompanied it? What about the publication date/ issue number? Any information is very much appreciated. Thank-you.
    Yours sincerely, Jeff Freeland

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