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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Sloan, NY (Suburb of Buffalo, NY, USA)
    Posts
    132

    Red face Building new site

    Technically, I giving the original site a complete and major face lift using Designer Pro X. But I really want to make the site shine and stand out compared to other municipality sites in this region of Western New York state. I've been working on this off and on for the last 6 months. I think I've gotten through all the planning and am now about ready to start building the site. I've been reading through the print manual for DPX (I'm showing my age but I do so much better with the book in my hand) and have learned quite a bit but I'm still a little shaky on one major point, hence this post.

    I really want to do this the "right" way, meaning to take full advantage of the software's capabilities. While this might sound like a totally "newbie" type question, but: Should I start out focusing fully on the index page and just add the "shells" of the remaining pages for navigation purposes then develop them later on? I'm sorry, but that has always kinda stumped me about this app. All the software I have used in the past has not encouraged, for want of a better term, that path. Rather, it has always been along the vein of doing each page, separately, at a time and linking them all together as you go along.

    I know the longest journey still starts with the first step and I'm just looking for some advice about that particular step of this journey. How would some of you attack a redesign project which will include more than 50 pages? I've attached a rough draft of my site map in pdf format so you can see how the site will be organized.

    Thanks so much for any and all assistance!
    Jack
    Attached Files Attached Files

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    Location
    Placitas, New Mexico, USA
    Posts
    38,852

    Default Re: Building new site

    Hi Jack

    From experience I would work on your home page first, not the content but everything else including the pasteboard color (if any), the page color, add your guidelines, create your text styles for your headings, body copy, etc. Try to include everything that will be included on all the other pages. Create the first button for your navigation bar or add a Nav Bar from the Designs Gallery. Then duplicate as many pages as you will have on the site then duplicate a few extra pages.

    Create a few smaller test sites to get an idea of how this will work. Then once you have the basics down, start to build the site.
    Gary W. Priester
    Mr. Moderator Emeritus Dude
    , Sir

    gwpriester.com | Custom-Stereograms.com | eyeTricks on Facebook






  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2000
    Location
    Bracknell, UK
    Posts
    8,480

    Default Re: Building new site

    I agree with Gary. Don't try and do a "big bang" and I strongly encourage you not to have "Under Construction" pages. They make any site look unprofessional.

    I have a bit of a beef about these kinds of sites. Often they are organised according to the structure of the people and organisations involved and the end user going to the site to actually use it is an afterthought.

    Professional design companies use things like "user stories" to imagine the kind of person that might use the site and what they want to find.

    As an example, for a site such as this I might expect local news to dominate the front page with links to what is going on now and in the future.

    I see that "Village Life" features way down on the list of menus and I think it would be my priority on a site like this. First in the list of menu items are links to local officials. Nice and flattering to the ego, but hardly a priority for most users.

    Anyway, good luck. Start small at first. As Gary says, the home page is usually the thing that defines the look and feel of all other pages.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    SW England
    Posts
    12,662

    Default Re: Building new site

    Jack, I would also add lots of guidelines in a Guide layer so when you clone your first page you can align things down to a pixel.

    Acorn

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Sloan, NY (Suburb of Buffalo, NY, USA)
    Posts
    132

    Default Re: Building new site

    Thanks to all of you for your suggestions. It's kind of funny but I cannot seem to think straight about something like this or any major undertaking no matter what I do until I pose the question on a public forum. That act seems to be some sort of catharsis. I go to bed that night and the next morning upon awaking the solution is in front of me before I even get out of bed. Asking the question somehow relieves some internal pressure that keeps me from lucid thought on the subject. I don't understand why I am like that but, good or bad, that's just me.

    GW, I wholeheartedly agree and that's exactly what I was thinking when I woke up this morning. That makes the most sense being that it's basically the root of the site and everything else branches out from the home page.

    pauland, I absolutely abhor "Construction" pages! One of my suppliers for my insulin pump supplies has had pages under construction for 5 years now! The site is currently working and I don't plan to switch versions until this one is finished. In looking at the site stats from the last 4 years the photo and event pages get the most hits consistently. The site map I included is basically the navbar on the page. I hadn't yet settled on an order. I really want to emphasize the site as an interactive resource for our residents. My first incarnation has been pretty well received in the village. It has received a lot of compliments from people whose opinions I really respect, some of whom developed their own business web sites. They have all said that the site is very easy to use and navigate. I take that to heart because about 60% of the residents are, at youngest, retired and many are 75+. I have conducted some impromptu classes at our Senior Center and was really surprised at how savvy some of these "oldsters" really are.

    But the demographics have changed since I first built the site. There are a lot of new young families in the village. Over the last 4 years the 65+ group has dropped from nearly 80% to the above-mentioned 60%. The village has one of the best school districts in the region and I want to incorporate content for those families who are moving here for that reason primarily. I'm trying to work with one of the local TV stations to get some "feeds" for news and weather but I'm getting promises rather than results.

    At the end of the day, this is a small village. It's about one square mile and the 2010 Census shows about 3500 residents. But I really want to give them an easy-to-use tool they can go to every day and find what they need whether it's news and weather; a calendar of school events or Rec Department activities; Arts Council events; electronic forms to rent a space for a reunion or birthday party; phone numbers; games for their kids; any other useful tool, things I haven't yet thought of or all of the above.

    I look at the sites for other municipalities and some of them haven't been updated in months or even years. They all seem to be just a bunch of static pages with the bare minimum so they can have a web site to list on their business cards. I want something more than that for our residents.

    Acorn, I'm not sure I completely understand your suggestion. Are you speaking in terms of my planning the site or in implementing its launch. I was thinking today about incorporating some pop-up tips to help the transition from the old site to the new site which will have a few more bells and whistles. I'd appreciate your expanding on that a bit because, either way, it sounds like a good idea.

    Thanks so much again for your help, guys!! I'm sure as this goes on I'll have plenty more questions!!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    Location
    Placitas, New Mexico, USA
    Posts
    38,852

    Default Re: Building new site

    What if instead of trying to build the Empire State Building, you build a modest 5 story building. That is, create the bare bones essential site. Then as you feel up to it, add more sections.

    For 3500 residents you do not need an encyclopedia. A pamplet will work for the start.
    Gary W. Priester
    Mr. Moderator Emeritus Dude
    , Sir

    gwpriester.com | Custom-Stereograms.com | eyeTricks on Facebook






  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2000
    Location
    Bracknell, UK
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    8,480

    Default Re: Building new site

    I took a look at the existing site and I have to say there's a real feeling of community about it, so I think you're doing a great job. So many of the sites like this are without any soul. Forget my earlier criticism - I can see that you put the soul of the community first.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    SW England
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    Default Re: Building new site

    Quote Originally Posted by Acorn View Post
    Jack, I would also add lots of guidelines in a Guide layer so when you clone your first page you can align things down to a pixel.
    Jack, the guidelines are your framework for the floor plan of each of your stories in the building you are constructing.
    If you don't have the walls all in the same place the tower will lean over all to quickly and your spend all your time adding scaffolding.

    Acorn

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Sloan, NY (Suburb of Buffalo, NY, USA)
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    132

    Default Re: Building new site

    Thanks, pauland, that really means a lot. You guys truly know what it's like to develop web sites that make an impact. I really want to build on the positives of the existing site and add some content that encourages residents to turn to it first. And, yes, one of my goals is to make the site easier to maintain for me or for whoever takes over in the event I can no longer handle it. I did not put a lot of planning into the first incarnations of this site. I had a basic idea of what I wanted to convey but I really did not know what to expect. The current site averages about 650 unique hits a day, which really isn't too bad, I think, given the target audience.

    Gary, I understand your point, but in my page count I have to include the "extraneous" pages, too, e.g. additional photo pages; history articles; meeting minutes, etc.. They have to be factored into navigation. There are approximately a dozen "core" pages along with a few additional links in the existing navbar. All the other pages are offshoots of those core links. The board meeting minutes, for example, go back four years to the original launch of the site. They have to remain "archived" on the site for public access. Photos are the same way although, because of the sheer number of pictures, I'm trying to limit the photo links to the previous 12 months only. I'm still working on how to make past photos available for anyone who might want them without eating up my server space. I purposely have quite a bit of space but it's still finite. Photobucket's site rebuild has put a very bad taste in my mouth and I'm trying to figure out an alternative so I can give it the boot.

    I know I missed a lot of tricks in Xara's pocket to the end of making maintenance easy. I also now know I could have added a lot of functionality that would have brought more residents to the site. Sitting down to really RTDM has shown me a lot of things I did not know the program does. I'm hoping that this makeover will correct those deficiencies without complicating the feel of the current site. I'll be asking for a lot of help from you guys over the next few months so I hope you don't mind!

    In the meantime, thanks again for your input and suggestions. Everything you tell me or ask me to clarify really helps to crystallize my thinking about why I'm wanting to do something. That is priceless to me.

    Hope y'all have a great weekend!
    Jack

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Sloan, NY (Suburb of Buffalo, NY, USA)
    Posts
    132

    Default Re: Building new site

    Quote Originally Posted by Acorn View Post
    Jack, the guidelines are your framework for the floor plan of each of your stories in the building you are constructing.
    If you don't have the walls all in the same place the tower will lean over all to quickly and your spend all your time adding scaffolding.

    Acorn
    I just came across that chapter in the manual so now I understand your reference. I didn't start at the beginning of the book. I focused initially on the sections relating to overall site design and bounced around from there. I read all I could read that way then started from page 1 and started going through. Thanks for the tip!

 

 

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