Well, the new WilmotHighSchool.com website is in the last stages of development and it shouldn’t be too much longer before it goes live. I’ve got the design all setup and now the web design class is just going to have to move all the old pages over to the new template. Here I just wanted to talk a little bit about what went into the redesign and how we’re planning to transition to the new site.
Even though the current website has served the school well for the past year-and-a-half, they wanted a refresh on the website. This also gave me a chance to fix some of the things that have bothered me with the old site.
The header on the homepage was a little large and some of the drop down menus had to open up because of that. A user would have to scroll down just to see the content on the homepage if they were on a smaller monitor.
The flash slideshow was also a bit of a problem. It was the standard Dreamweaver slideshow player and therefore looked very standard. It had the standard looking control buttons, which took up too much extra room on the page. It also had functionality problems. When it would loop back to the begninning of the slideshow, it would always skip the first slide for some reason. In firefox it would load the images at half the size that they should be about half the time, making them unreadable.
The last thing is that the alumni website, powered by High School Reunion, didn’t have the same layout as the rest of the site. Creating a theme for HSR is easy once you have something like a main site template done in Dreamweaver and makes it clear that it’s all the same website.
For the new layout I decided to solve the number one complaint by putting the navigation up against the top of the page. I also made the rest of the header much smaller by removing the flickr images and placing them in the sidebar under the search and weather.
I’m also a big fan of the new slideshow player. I found the basic code on flashotaku.com, but modified it greatly. The buttons are now on top of the slideshow player, but are only visible when you need them — when you mouse over the slideshow. It starts automatically, and when it loops back to the beginning it show the first slide again! The thing that I like most about it is the fact that it is no bigger than the images that it displays so there is no wasted space.
After I drew up some rough sketches of the layout of the site, I jumped into photoshop to draw it all up. I reserved the top 50 pixels for navigation and the next 100ish for the title. Everything after that is all content. I threw a shadow on the the outsides of the content. I put a red gradient for the navigation bar, with a darker layer over it for the over states.
The biggest thing was the drop shadows. Everything has a drop shadow: the layout as a whole, the title, the nav bar, the nav bar over states, etc. I like how the site has a little bit of dimension. The last site had a “flat” look. With the new site the buttons actually looked pressed-down when you hover over them.
After I had the mockup done in photoshop I got the slice tool and made slices of everything that I couldn’t reproduce with CSS.
In Dreamweaver I started the same way I start every site: setup the main divs. A holder, to hold the whole site and make it possible to center it. I had the put in a nav div above everything else, since the nav for this site is the first thing you see. Header, content, and footer divs are self explanatory. On the homepage I had to create a left-column and right-column so I could put in a sidebar on the homepage and on the alumni website.
I put the shadow background image on the holder, put the red gradient on the nav div, and put together a nav bar with Dreamweaver’s built in navbar function with all the up and over states. I defined a title and content section for the template and I was pretty much done.
I added the drop down menus and breadcrumb links and I was done. We just had to move the old website over to the new template, which would be done mostly by the web design class at school.
There are a few features that we’re working on now and some last minute changes. I really want to get everything just right and make the transition go as smooth and cleanly as possible.