New Template (of sorts)

Last week the new Bridgewater State College layout was unveiled. This has a lot of my work in it. The design of the layout was produced by a consulting firm the college hired to help develop the new layout.

Once we got a template that Institutional Communications (the new name for the Public Affairs dept) was happy with it was handed off to me to convert into something usable. IE/Mac users will not have a great experience (still working on that), but it should be good back to IE 5.0. There are lots of areas where I see improvements being made over the next year. Besides compatibility I see adding some extra style-switching bits to the left of the font-size/search bar at the top right such as picking what font to use for the base of the layout. I also see going through the CSS and trying to greatly compact it to cut down on the amount of data people have to download.

I’ve already started doing that with the images. Originally many of the “brand images” were 300-400k in size. I’ve cut a lot of that down to well under 100k per image. A lot of the second-level pages still need to be re-compressed and I’ll eventually get to them. Right now there’s still a lot of back-end coding to work on and that’s my primary focus for the next few weeks.

I was thinking about producing a version to post on my site for the world to use, but decided fairly quickly that would be a bad idea. It’s a design that is certainly wholly unique to BSC and it should probably stay that way for at least a little while.

We opened a demo version to people on-campus for a few weeks prior to going live. In that span of time we really haven’t had much in the way of negative feedback. The actually day we rolled it out into production we had virtually zero feedback. This, in my opinion, was a good sign. It’s rare that you’ll hear about the good things you do, but you’ll always hear (very loudly) about the bad things you do. The calm of the roll-out seems to indicate we’ve got a layout people like.

There are some things I don’t like, such as color and typographical choices in some parts of the web site, but I am not alone in creating nor maintaining this web site and so it can’t be only about what I think is best.

I still believe it’s not a bad idea to stay away from using Calibri in web sites (even though we use it for most of the headings). The size differences between Calibri and Arial mean people who don’t support Calibri will have a much different experience on your web site.

Well just wanted to post a note about that (it’s turned into a novel).

Have fun!

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One thought on “New Template (of sorts)

  1. Works fine for me in Asia. PPC Mac /FF

    You mentioned downloading speed, how does enabling gzip compression fit in to page design?

    I understand you can set the site server if you own it.

    Can somebody on a virtual host do anything on-page to enable it and increase download speed?

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