Monday, September 19, 2005

Fun with HTML

Until I started this blog, I had done virtually no work with HTML whatsoever. Since then, I've mostly just tweaked and made slight adjustments to the Minima template Blogger gives me. I've made a few more wholesale changes to the Washington Lane West blog, but still, nothing fancy. (Even if it was a little tricky to get it to look how I wanted. I'm still working on it.)

So imagine my surprise when I found myself volunteering to take over web design duties for Theorizing, a lecture series I run with some other Comp Lit grads at Penn. Theorizing's web site, long inherited from at least two webmasters back, is even more minimalist than Short Schrift, and badly needed a re-design, not just someone to update images and text.

So I did my usual research spelunking, and eventually just hunkered down and downloaded a trial version of Dreamweaver 8 -- perfect for my uses, since I was just planning on designing a handful of related templates for one site and wouldn't need a full-featured editor just to change text later on. Dreamweaver made it a lot easier, but it still took some time and some quick learning to figure out how to make the changes I needed to make to get what I wanted. (Do you know what CSS style sheets are? I didn't.)

Anyways, here's a smallish screenshot of the new template I came up with (and will with luck be uploading and updating fairly soon):

It's a pretty basic sidebar format, but a few things make it nice for Theorizing. First, the main information you want -- detailed information on the upcoming event, and the complete yearly schedule -- is instantly accessible. Essentially, I'll have a variable index page: I'll be able to make pages for each of the talks, and rotate them in and out as each comes up in the schedule. Also, I'll be able to include capsule descriptions of each of the talks/speakers on the bottom of the main page. And, I'm adding a few links to archived descriptions and RealAudio/mp3 files of our past speakers in the sidebar right on the main page, without having to include everybody and everything. I'm hoping this will help people find our site -- we'll have lots of famous names (well, you know, famous for literary theory) on the main page. Which is also good advertising for us.

Anyways, I'm pleased with it, and who knows what might come next? A redesign of Short Schrift? A fantastic new home page? Chucking the whole academia thing and going into graphic design? Who knows what the days, weeks, and months to come might bring.

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