Saturday, September 20, 2008

Table of Contents

I'm doing a walk-through of my Mt. Rainier NP photograpy guide, checking a variety of small things like typos, grammer, spelling, links, phtos, etc. and doing updates, new information, news, links, etc. along with some tinkering with the design. To this end I started with a new table of contents. And before ya'll ask, as some have, why not a fancier design using pulldown menus, flash, etc, you know all that neat Web design tricks available now, I'll explain.

Well, I only intend to use new applications in selected places through out the guide and Website, for good reasons. The main design philosophy of my guide is simplicity, not just for the user/reader in terms of keeping pages within more conventional size for reading and printing, but also for me. You see, I'm not a highly technicallly knowledgeable Web designer-developer, and the simplier the pages are, especially using a template and consistent style, the easier the pages are to add and new update.

I only plan to use new Web design technology and applications as appropriate to the content, need and interest. This is shown with the addition of subject specific Web pages in the photo guide with Google maps. You gotta remember, I'm retired, older and a little, ok a lot, slower these days. And I have time. I'm not into deadlines because I've learned it adds unnecessary stress, especially when I'm learning something new.

So I develop new ideas with the design or content in small increments until I can imagine a major design idear or change, and then see the process to implement and test it, which I can do by tinkering with one Web page and the part is the beauty of the structure and organization of my Website. Every page is individual within a common template design, and can be changed without effecting the rest of the Web pages.

I realize this isn't necessarily efficient or productive from a Website perspective, but then it gives me tremendous flexibility with the content. While the pages are all designed around a specifc browser window and within a specific size content display, closer to paper publications, it allows me to vary the content within the Web page frame for the whole array of information, with text, maps, photos, etc. and even with newer Web technologies, such as Google maps, flash, etc., as I learn.

In addition, the difference between my Website and photo guide and others' is significant. While most photographers use a static Website, meaning what you see won't change very often over time, partly due to the design and partly due to less new content, mine is a very dynamic Website being updated routinely during the month. It wouldn't pay me to design a Website I have to completely rebuild every time I update it or write one using a script I have to keep rewritiing, testing and debugging.

This doesn't mean I'm a curmudgeon about Web designs. I actually look at a lot of Websites and pages to get new ideas, and I often look at the source code to see how it was designed and developed. I don't have the resources to use a professional Web designer, nor try to learn how to keep the Website updated if I did. It has to do with a small character flaw in that I like to understand everything about my Web pages.

To that end, I don't use wysiwyg packages to develop the Web pages, you know the ones you write text in blocks, move boxes around, and fill in gui boxes about features. I use source code writers, namely Adobe's GoLive and Bare Bone's BBEdit. It has a lot neat features for a code writer, but it's still about knowing what html, css, xml, java/javascript, etc. is and does. You write and it works or not.

Anyway, that's it and that's me. I hope you enjoy the photo guide, and yes, it will evolve, currently at WSR 2.4 and MPG 2.4. The rest will just happen as it does and I do.

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