So I just spent 2 hours messing around with the look and feel of the site. It’s pretty entertaining. Figuring out how parents and students will see and navigate the site is obviously step one. Putting this together on WordPress has the awesome advantage of allowing me to see how the site actually looks on a smartphone. The smartphone issue was one of the things that made me abandon site version 2.5. Most of my students will use this site on their phones, so most of the layout design involved me starting at my phone after each update. If you do build a student/parent facing site, thinking phone-first is the way to go.
The new site also allowed a number of cool little changes that I hadn’t considered before I restarted.
The Google Translate widget was awesome. That should make for some entertaining mistranslations, but it will also open the page up to a bunch of parents and students learning English. The only hassle I’ve found with Google Translate is that the pop-up window doesn’t show the language list well, so languages at the high part of the alpha list, including Spanish crucially, are not clickable. But it does work fine on computers and tablets.
The search box was also something I didn’t consider heading into this rebuild. I’m sort of leery about it. The whole idea of my site is to create a hierarchical structure of information so that my students don’t just use the “omnibox” search methodology. I want them to know how to drill down through a file structure to get information, but that search box short circuits that. On the other hand, the box will let students and parents actually find what they need. So I won’t fight that battle.
The other little widgets, “Top Posts & Pages” and “Tags” also might turn out to be useful. I have to have a bunch of students and parents clicking before I see how handy those get.
Setting up my background using a repeating toothpick took an hour all by itself. I had an old version from the last website, but I wanted a better mix of people this time. All the standard (and appropriate) inclusionary considerations came into play in choosing the people. Then I had to refresh my Photoshop skills to put the thing together and color and shade it the way I wanted. I do remember from building my last site versions that getting these little things just so at the beginning of the business really helped later, but that advice is of course true of everything.
But generally, I have the look and the structure down how I want it and I can start populating the pages now.
The site as of day 2: