Expedition Journal
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Archive for the ‘Web development’ topic

The Ephemeral Nature of Design

Last Friday, Bert asked me to name a few cool projects we had created recently. My mind drew a blank. Not that we hadn’t made anything cool, far from it. It’s just very rare to ever look back. Once a project is delivered, we’re usually already too busy working on the next one to sit down and contemplate on our achievements. As they say over here: Out of sight, out of heart.

For the past fifteen years, I have, as a graphic designer, worked on all kinds of internet projects. And if there is one thing I understand, it’s that a lot of what I create is ephemeral. Some of the designers I know never wanted to make the switch to digital, because when you design for print, you at least have something substantial that you can touch and feel at the end of the day. With digital, everything remains virtual. Add to that, I work in a fast paced sector and much of what I create will soon quickly become outdated or obsolete.

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Working with WordPress

In the past few days, I’ve created two new blogs. One for myself and one for the Pangaea Expedition, the latter being the only reason for doing all of this. I had already created a fan page on Facebook, and while it offers quite a lot of interesting possibilities, it does have its limitations. The most important not having the ability to display high resolution maps and drawings.

And so I figured I would actually have to build a real site if I was really serious about launching the Pangaea Expedition experience. Starting from scratch was out of the question. It would need to have such nifty things like entry posts, user comments, automatic feeds and such. Coding all that by new year would be impossible and so I needed an out of the box solution. My eyes fell on WordPress, a popular blogging engine that pretty much has all the features I need.

Installing WordPress on my server was a straight forward act. The admin section is clean, easy to use  and all in all quite  impressive. Customizing the front end however took a little bit more work then I had hoped. The good news is, my HTML and CSS skills haven’t deteriorated over the years to the deplorable depths that I had feared. Getting the templates to look like my initial designs  went rather smoothly. So far, I’ve had very few cross browser issues to deal with. Fingers crossed.

Proving to be a bit more difficult was extracting the information from the WordPress engine and displaying it in way that I wanted it; not necessarily the way WordPress had intended it. To give them credit, they have done their best in making things as simple as possible for the template creator. You can quickly create template pages with a minimum of PHP coding on your part. However, the downside of this all,  is that in order to achieve this level of simplicity, some commands have had to mix content with HTML formatting.And  I hate that.

Maybe if I were to dig a little deeper into the WordPress API, that I would be able to get around this problem in a more elegant way, but for the time being, I’ve simply just hacked my way through it all. If it was works, it works, but it is still frustrating none the less. Unfortunately, working this way also  invalidates many of the options in the admin. But as these are usually options  that rarely have to be changed. It’s no real big loss. It just means I need to make some adjustments in the code itself if that were ever to happen.

I still have quite some work to do, but so far I am pleased with the results for the Pangaea Expedition. As for my personal blog, I haven’t bothered messing around with it yet and have simply gone for a ready made theme. With a bit of luck, I’ll be able to launch the Pangaea Expedition website soon.

T-shirts with the god Shiva print