Tonight the world (or maybe just North Dakota) finally got to see what I’ve been working on for the last several months. We launched the new EduTech website at about 5:30 this evening. So far, things are looking very good. I’m spending the night performing triage by fixing broken links as missing pages are discovered by a clever little php script that emails me with the location of both the missing page and where it was linked. It’s let me find problems very quickly, so hopefully I’ll have most of them taken care of before our daily morning rush when school starts.
I’m using the Movable Type blogging engine to manage the whole site, letting me make changes from any web browser on any computer. Each page is a PHP script now instead of just plain HTML, letting me do a lot of cool things, such as displaying different parts of the page depending on what section it’s in to sucking in RSS feeds from across the Internet and showing them on our site. We also have several blogs on the site, including the Security Blog and the PowerSchool Success Blog. This will help to keep our content nice and fresh.
On the more geeky side of things, every page should now validate as XHTML 1.0 Strict, the most well formed version of HTML that has some pretty rigorous rules to follow. Why do I bother? First, HTML that validates is more compatible with the wide array of browsers out there, making it more likely to look the same everywhere. More than that though, it’s a something that lets others know I take pride in my work and pay attention to details. I doubt if anyone will ever bother to take a look at the HTML source, but I can be happy knowing I put in a good effort.
The new design is a completely CSS-based too, which totally separates the structure and content of the page from the way it looks. This makes doing things like changing fonts, colors, and even positioning, a breeze. It also keeps pages lean (faster downloads) and makes website accessibility a lot easier.
I’d like to thank Douglas Bowman of Stopdesign for his presentations at Web Design World Seattle this summer, his inspiration, and for his bullet-proof CSS layout I based the EduTech design on. Doug, you made this job a lot easier for me. Thanks!
I’ve still got lots of small changes and tweaks to make in the upcoming days and weeks, but the bulk of the work is done, for which I’m grateful. I just hope the new design is easier to use for our customers and represents EduTech well!