Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Finished Projects

I've been very busy the last couple of weeks trying to work on three new site designs, hence the slight lack of posting this past week. Whatever possessed me to get myself in the position to have two competition sites due on the same day... I'm still trying to figure out... but finally, I can say that I'm nearly done with all three, and entirely done with the two sites being entered in contests. The only one left is the one I shifted the most time away from - working on my personal site. Go figure. That's just how that happens.

First Things First


Yesterday, I finished up tweaking out the Lovecraft Country website which is being entered in the Expression Engine Shootout contest. The site design is not mine originally, and I'm slated to do a complete remake of the code to strip out the few remaining tables used in the original design. Also, I'll be pulling out quite a few uses of z-index layers which could easily be avoided with good CSS positioning. But, that comes later when I do a full overhaul on the site for the CSS Reboot in May.

For the EE Shootout contest, I had a few things that I absolutely needed to do. The site was using a Javascript image rollover menu bar. I stripped that out and replaced it with a unordered list containing the images and displayed inline. Unfortunately, I first needed to redo the images, because none of them were transparent gifs, and that was important for a menu that was going to flex across a changing image background. Plus, the original text on the menu images was terrible to read, so for some accessibility, I used a more readable font and made the color of the text significantly brighter.
The Lovecraft Country Main Website

The next thing was validation to XHTML. I ran the site through a validator, and found pleasantly few things that needed fixing to bring it up to XHTML 1.0 Transitional. Unfortunately, it will have to wait for the full overhaul to get up to XHTML 1.0 Strict. The only glitch in that validation at all were a few warnings (not errors) from the validator response, and those were caused by some autogenerated scripts from the Expression Engine software itself. Hopefully, when the software is fully upgraded to the current version, those errors will disappear. I then doublechecked the CSS, tossed out a few proprietary rules, and got that up to specs. Then I set to working on the accessibility, and managed to churn it out to nearly a AAA level, and definitely a AA rating.

Of course, one of the biggest time crunches involved was the opening of the forums I had just finished skinning to match the site. The vBulletin powered forums were simple to work with, but they are still acting twitchy with me when I'm trying to implement the new horizontal menu I finished up. So, for now, I'm leaving the menu on the forums static until I can fix that.
The Lovecraft Country New Forums

Lots of things planned for this site in the future, but for now, at least one thing done, and this one is fully entered in the contest.

The Other Contest



Now this contest was for the players of the Castle Marrach online RPG that I play (though I do play far less these days, and that's probably a good thing). They asked us to try to redesign their public Twiki page. Even more fun to do because the current Public Twiki is a full out blank slate. Here's the current design:

The Old Public Twiki

And I just entirely redid it.

The New Public Twiki

I won't go into detail because there was literally nothing there to start with so Everything was done to it. The most interesting factor was that I had to do this using the Twiki wiki system and their codes similar to SSI includes to break out the HTML into chunks so that a non-technical user wouldn't hurt the code.

The only conflict I really had with this design was that I couldn't determine if I wanted the images at the bottom to show through the main area with some transparency.

The New Public Twiki

In the end, I decided not to use the transparency and just let the images slide behind. But, the design was submitted on time (early by a half-day even!)

So... a long couple of weeks, plus working on my primary website redesign which is (thank goodness) nearly complete, and planning for a new seminar on website laws and accessibility... I'm going to just relax for the rest of the night.

~Nicole

Cross-posted to take your comments on Beyond Caffeine.