This was a whirlwind of a project. We usually set aside at least two months for a project – this one took just two weeks, start to finish. While this may sound like plenty of time to build a website, it’s surprising how little time it really is! In this case, that’s a big part of what made it so fun.
Since we were under such a time crunch, we had to make some firm decisions from the outset, and build the site with those in mind. For instance, we needed some Flash-like effects – the fading in and out of a menu, scroll bars that don’t look ugly in the middle of the page, and a fixed size layout. Rather than write this code from scratch, we decided to use the jQuery JavaScript library. This was a great decision, and a great fit for a website of this size! I would highly recommend it, and I’ll certainly be using it again soon. We also used the Yahoo User Interface Library’s simple CSS framework, great for starting a site with a clean slate.
We didn’t have long to build the site, so we decided to use the simplest thing that works for content management. And that means Ladybug. This is a dead-simple way to let our clients manage their content, and it was a perfect fit, since they didn’t need anything too advanced. While we’ve never been able to build a version of Ladybug for other designers to use, we’re very near to having something even better, so stay tuned for that.
Also, because we were building a fixed layout, we could essentially build the site from sliced Photoshop file exports, which works quite well. They even work great in Internet Explorer 6, the bane of every web designer’s existence. Unfortunately, the transparent PNG graphics don’t, and while there are plenty of nice hacks out there to get those working (I tried three such hacks), none are reliably able to handle complex rollover states of the kind we’re using on the site. It started to get too complicated, so we took a step back and rebuilt all the graphics at the last minute. This wasn’t ideal, and did involve some working on the weekend, but you have to expect that sort of thing when you’re testing on IE6.
So we’re very happy. It was a fun project and a great client to work with. And to top it all off, we got to listen to an interview with Jessica on NPR’s Morning Edition this morning. What a nice way to launch a website!