• Week 52

    14 October 2013

    Week 52’s primary focus was Housedon: a rebuild of a content-driven site for an arts charity.

    The work came in two parts: building up Dean’s designs in modular, flat HTML, and then building out the WordPress code to back the whole thing.

    The flat HTML went fairly smoothly, but the site build is taking long than planned. This is partly down to the amount of content migration necessary.

    Content migration is a necessary part of any web rebuild: site architectures change, page requirements change, and sometimes copy needs updating to reflect that as well.

    In this case, though it was suggested I could leave that until later, it was clear that wasn’t the case; most of the old site was not stored in a database, but as flat PHP files with inline functions; importing the old content required placing these elements into WordPress, stripping out inline function calls and either replacing them with template elements or shorttags; and so forth. Then, the old content from the small WordPress install that powered part of the site was moved over.

    As the week went on, we kept finding new pages buried in the old site, that would need migrating over – and working out how best to do that.

    The end result is turning out well, though: every content object is now being stored in the CMS, a few necessary pieces of code have been ported over, and Dean’s focus on mobile-first mean the site works well at all screen-sizes. We’ve used SoundManager 2 to make the site’s audio much less of a bother to play, as well.

    WordPress may not seem like an obvious choice for such work in 2013; why not something custom-built, or a flat site generated in something like Jekyll?

    The answer to the former is easy: because the budget, both time- and financial- wouldn’t stretch to it – not to mention the impositions on hosting an application server makes. The latter is a more reasonable suggestion – but whilst the output format is swift and robust, the editing process for a static-site generator makes far more demands on editorial staff. In this case, a web-UI for a CMS they likely know makes sense.

    But there’s still scope to tailor it to our needs. I’m a strong advocate of modelling information appropriately, so as well as Posts and Pages, we have four other Top Level Objects – Events, Texts, and so forth. These can all be templated separately, given appropriated metadata through custom fields in their own areas of the admin site, and as such, the data-model feels much more robust and future-proof (in the way a system built around WordPress’ categories taxonomy wouldn’t be).

    At the end of the week, I was a little behind where I wanted to be, but the work we had done was solid and secure. A few more days next week should wrap things up. It’s been good to keep my hand in in a few particular spaces I hadn’t worked in so much over the past few months – practical front-end development, in particular.

    I also had a lunch this week to discuss the previous week’s work on Hegdon which went well: a tricky project, that often felt like it was slipping through my hands at times, but a good discussion around the work that I hope revealed a few things to the client.

  • Week 50 (51)

    6 October 2013

    A few different focuses this week: a meeting about Housedon, an upcoming piece of work next week; two days on Hegdon, a short interaction design exploration – research, wireframes, and documentation; a short exploratory meeting with some new contacts; and a lunchtime talk at the ODI.

    I write weeknotes for myself mainly as a diary (and Maciej’s written about the value of work diaries): to look back upon over time; to keep track of where my head is. Some weeks are deep in a single project; some spread thinly amongst several; some in business development.

    This is week 50. Although really, it should be week 51: I made a mistake somewhere. I know this because on Friday, the copy of myself that lives a year ago on Foursquare went to its leaving do.

    So: an adjustment to weeknotes: let’s assume this is really week 51. And: how a year passes. A year ago, I’d be about to begin Spirits Melted Into Air. It’s been quite a year. Yearnotes should, I think, be forthcoming. But for now: onwards.

  • Week 48

    23 September 2013

    Three main focuses for Week 48.

    Firstly, bringing Sore into land. This week, that meant sourcing a few last elements for the installation, and working on a short film to promote the project. So a week of ordering books, composing music, and stitching a short film together. That’ll be out very shortly.

    I also spent a day wrapping up Muncaster: decommissioning various services we no longer needed, and then spending the rest of the day analysing some data from the project. Nothing vastly complex, but useful to get a better picture of how people played with Hello Lamp Post, and also to be able to express more stories about the project to our partners.

    And, finally, on Thursday, a short lunch about a brief piece of design work, now known as Hegdon: a few days of interaction design in the coming weeks, which will be a nice workout and change of pace
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    Week 48. Week 49 next: time to launch new work.