Internship Week #4: A Very Long Post About Web Design

This last week working on the Florida in World War I project has had some road blocks. I really dived into working on the project’s website. The big issues, as I mentioned in my previous weeks, are design and layout. The current theme that is on the website is structured well, but the theme is not easily customizable. While I do have some coding skills, the theme is beyond what I can do. So I have been spending time looking for a theme we can use that in similar, but more customizable. Definitely easier said than done; however, I managed to find two themes that may (or may not) work in terms of layout. But the issue now is design. My fellow project coordinators and I really want the site to attract and keep the attention of as many people as possible, which means a lot needs to go into the design, even if it may seem simple. When working on a project like this, I think the goal is to present information professionally, but also presenting it in an interesting way to entice people to want to continue to look through it.

I started working on several different layouts, all of which are having their difficulties, but I think with time I will have some good options for the website. Below are screencaptures of three designs I am working on. They are without a doubt works in progress and need a lot of labor. Once item that I am spending time on is the header images. I want to utilize photographs available on Florida Memory (my two particular favorites are the ones featured in the screencaptures below- you can click each one to see a larger, clearer version of the themes), but the question is how to add in the project title without infringing on the photographs. This is something I will be working on over the weekend.

So below are three screenshots of various layouts and themes I am working with. What I like about each is that they are very simple, which allows for the use of photographs and images that will liven the pages up. The first screenshot shows a very basic design right now. My biggest challenge with this one is color. With the current theme that is up on the website, it is essentially switching it from a very dark, bland design to a very sterile white one. Hopefully this will be more of an option when I am able to create a header. The second screenshot is of the same theme, but the layout is a bit different. This theme gives the option of promo boxes, which would allow the use of photographs and images to link to a particular page. This could allow for some more color and a more basic header. But again, the issue is color, color, color. Now the third screenshot shows a similar setup, but with color. This particular theme is a little tricky to work with, but it makes it easy to adjust color. It is a challenge and I know this will take a lot of time, but I think once it all comes together it will be a great product.

I also worked a little bit with social media this week. The project coordinators and I want to start utilizing the Twitter account to generate conversation and to get people interested in the project. A couple of students in one of the undergraduate courses that participated in the project created a number of tweets to help get us started. While the posts are all very interesting, an issue came up where the Tweets are almost 140 characters long, but that does not include the characters needed for photos. So there has been a lot of editing involved this week, trying to make them work without losing information. Along with working on the website, I want to continue this weekend and next week to really get the account up and running and engaging with others. I also need to start working on creating my own content to put on the site as well. I am still trying to figure out exactly what I want to create, but in the next week I should have a better idea.

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