bethany college hurstville

Bethany College HurstvilleGosh, it never rains but it pours.

My fourth new site in a week (!) went live today. Honestly, folks, it’s not normally like this.

It’s a redesign of an existing site for Bethany College Hurstville, a Catholic secondary girls school in Sydney’s southern suburbs.

I like this kind of brief because it involves working with an existing body of content of some substance.

Arranging that content so as to best meet the needs of site visitors is a part of the process I really enjoy.

It requires me to come to grips with the totality of the information to be presented, the aims of the client, the needs of the site visitor and resources available to me to be able to mesh them all into a web presence that is so functional that visitors don’t even notice how well structured it is.

During that process, I’m aware that the aforementioned web presence must also look good, so I remain alert for style indicators as I organise the content: colours, of course, and typefaces, themes, motifs, key words that evoke certain images.

Some of this might influence the way I put the navigation elements together, or the choice of a colour palette, or the size and placement of images, and some of it just melts into that pot of “This is how it should be …”

I’m not saying this website is any kind of pinnacle, mind you, but it should do its job. It has a sound structure that allows for future development, it’s easy to use and it should be both attractive and functional for its target audience. And it validates.

One of the requirements was that it could be maintained by a staff member using Dreamweaver. That could be a recipe for disaster, but in this case involves a librarian who knows what she’s doing.

Static pages still have their place, being conceptually easier for (eg) school librarians to manage than php snippets or sql tables. Dreamweaver is a good tool for the job, and quite likely to lead the user to exploring php, as is an under-rated editor, Coffee Cup HTML Editor 2008.

The Dreamweaver aspect didn’t really affect my design process. I checked the code a few times in DW and used it to get and put files from and to the staging site, and it all looks good. A benefit of hand-coding – albeit using pre-fab javascript, flash etc – is that it’s pretty clean code, easy to work with in Dreamweaver et al.

I have a bit of live testing and documentation to do tomorrow for the Bethany site and then I’ll visit the school the next day to go through the content management procedures with Brenda.

A trip to Sydney will be nice.


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