Once upon a time, the world was without Internet, static and boring. In those ancient times, to follow aircraft developments, most aviators had to wait for a magazine that arrived once a month. In 1995, the World Wide Web was born and only four years later work began on ByDanJohnson.com. *
Many have called the Internet, specifically the Web, the most important change in history for human communications! Since that time, the pace of change has been ever quickening.
I am pleased to announce to you that ByDanJohnson.com is upgrading to a brand-new site that will have a modern look and will automatically adapt to your phone or tablet. This redesign has consumed more than a year’s worth of work but the change will occur this month.
With more than 1,500 pages of information featuring millions of words, thousands of articles with photos, and hundreds of videos plus special features like PlaneFinder 2.0, the SLSA List, and our FI.R.M. List, this shift has been a massive undertaking. We have been working for many months but we are nearly ready for beta launch. Overwhelmingly our purpose has been to assure these changes will make for a better user experience.
All the same features you enjoy will still be available and nearly everything remains free of charge. However, while you should find everything much more accessible, you will see some changes in how you access various parts of the website.
Let’s go back in time a few years…
With help from long time webmaster Dan Barker, this website was built starting in 1999. Due to the lack of modern tools and my focus on other work at the time — I was VP of BRS Parachutes in those days — we did not go live until April of 2004. This was a few months before the Sport Pilot / Light-Sport Aircraft regulation was announced. By pure luck, my timing was exquisite and I was able to position ByDanJohnson.com right at the front of the parade for FAA’s newest aviation sector.
However, that early start meant we had to “stick build” the website. The project cost far more in dollars and hours than it does today to create a comprehensive, database-driven website. Years were spent creating everything from scratch. I had no idea what I was doing but Barker guided me well. Every time I wanted to add a new feature, it could take weeks, where today the same function might be added in hours or even minutes. In Internet Time, 13 years ago was something like the dark ages.
It was clearly time to jump into the future.
Today, mobile (smartphones and tablets) is dominant and PCs are fading. Websites remain as useful as ever — even in the age of social media — but a modern website needs to be something called “responsive.” This term means a website knows what device is accessing the information and formats itself to better fit that device. The ByDanJohnson.com you know could not be so adaptive because of the way it had to be built in the early 2000s. Smartphones are smart so you could view the website but it wasn’t optimal on mobile.
Change is hard for most folks. When you greet the new website, I hope you’ll look around and get familiar with it. Our news stories will appear in brief form instead of one long home pages of article after article. If you prefer the original look, you can click “Switch to Classic View” at the top of the page (photo, arrow). You will also be able to leave comments on any article. Continued improvements will follow launch of the new website.
If you are one of the many who view ByDanJohnson.com on an iPhone, Android, iPad, or other tablet, the look will be different. If you seek one of our sponsors — advertisers… the main reason you can read most articles or watch videos for free — they’ll be available but might appear in a different place. (Things will look mostly the same on a Mac or PC; it is on mobile that pages will appear different…)
After a month or so of feedback and further tweaking, we’ll launch ByDanJohnson.com 2.0 on April 1st (no fooling!), the 13th anniversary of ByDanJohnson.com going live. This will be our Grand Opening, once everything is working perfectly.
Thank you SO much for your loyal readership over the last thirteen years! We love what we do and we hope it shows! We will continue to provide highly focused content in written and video form covering Light-Sport Aircraft, light kit aircraft, ultralight aircraft, and the emerging new GA aircraft from companies we already cover.
* Thanks to longtime friend Cliff Whitney, who encouraged me to load my hundreds of pilot reports from print magazines onto a website; I’m not sure how soon I would have done this without his encouragement, and, as it turned out, my timing was perfect.