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Thursday, October 14, 2010


The other day when I was having my exhibition at Thistle Hall, I got into a chat with one of the visitors, who asked me about my web design work. She told me she was having a bit of grief with her website. Apparently she had gotten a young person who had offered to do the job for very cheap, for the sake of the experience (really, *very* cheap - in fact, on hearing the price, it was quite apparent to me that this poor person probably did not know what she or he were doing, though unfortunately, I am also aware that quite a few potential clients seem to actually expect that they can get a decent site built for that amount of money) - but she was now getting the impression that this person was not really up to the job.

When I looked up the site, it was quite apparent that indeed, whoever had set up those pages, had not the first clue how to write a proper CSS layout. The paragraph text was floating awkwardly next to the main navigation menu in a way that was clearly not intentional. There were no proper page margins, one link in the main navigation menu was not functional, and what layout elements there were, were plain to say the least, and somewhat oddly proportioned. The logo and existing branding elements that were available had not been integrated at all, apart from the general colour scheme.

The owner of the site was understandably concerned that this would not give a good impression of her business - but she had also noticed that the website was definitely doing the trick, in that she had already been getting some enquiries through the site. She was quite anxious to get it fixed up and looking professional as soon as possible.

At first I thought this would be a matter of simply turning what existing design there was into proper HTML and CSS, but as we got talking, she decided to invest in a proper redesign of the site. The result went online earlier this week:

The main thing I concentrated on was to create a simple, calm and functional design with pleasing proportions and a clear structure, and on making the site look good regardless what screen size, resoluation or browser is being used. I was fortunate to be able to base this design on the excellent logo and branding done by another design studio - I really do love the colour scheme they came up with, and decided to stick with it throughout, apart from introducing a couple of matching shades for the graphics on the home page.

The "rising sun" logo gives a calm yet structured background for most of the pages, and works well in that it does not distract from the main content and images. For the home page, however, it did seem a bit dull, so I introduced the yoga silhouettes in their concentric circles. After a bit of initial resistance (not uncommon when one sees something that is a bit different from what was expected for the first time), my client ended up loving them.

In terms of functionality, it was important to enable my client to create news announcements on the home page, and to be able to update the timetable. To this end, I set up a couple of PHP includes which can be edited without having to actually change the code of the respective pages. It does require an understanding of simple HTML, and an ability to upload pages via FTP, but the site owner assured me that she was confident to be able to learn those skills. It is a far more simple and streamlined - not to mention less pricey - solution than setting up a full database integrated content management system for what are, in effect, only a couple of items that need to be regularly updated.

As a bit of an extra, I also created a PHP script that builds the image gallery on the gallery page, which will make it easy for the site owner to upload additional images without having to change the page code at all.

Here is what my client said: "It looks really terrific, Astrid (i'm not just saying that)" -- "The site is really good, thanks Astrid" -- "It is a lovely site Astrid. Do you want to make up a flier for me now??"

Mission accomplished. :D

Asni: Multimedia Art & Design:: ::

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