Loving the Little Wins

2011 has started pretty well it has to be said. As I have mentioned before #bebettr went off with barely a hitch and Eventstreams is picking up momentum (though my role is negligible there!) and it turned out the waves of positivity I felt about my new job before Christmas were not an illusion I really do like it and find myself the most settled I’ve been in a long time.

The job is not without frustrations though and as someone who tends to need to have at least one or two interesting projects on the go to feel content the contracted web environment can drive me to distraction.

However the last couple of days have been full of small wins. I dug up my old Balsamiq license and downloaded the most recent version which is miles better than when I last really did anything major with it. I’m currently working on some ideas for rolling out some kind of shared platform for our ‘child’ organisations for a mix of money saving, brand strengthening and technological reasons and I was looking to come up with some ‘show and tell’ fodder as I sell the idea internally.

I had fun checking out the common navigation elements and features of the existing sites and working on boiling them down into something consistent I could use as a ‘proof of concept’. I have also been playing with the idea of some kind of shared top bar (like BIS) or footer to bring the sites together more. In the end I got into a bit of a loop with that though so decided to pick one (bad) site and work out a way of improving it without making radical changes to content provision. The idea being it would make a better demo if I could show a before and after kind of thing.

As it happens I found that I had a pretty strong idea of what I wanted to achieve and the mock-ups came together pretty quickly. So quickly in fact that I decided to push on and actually build a demo site.

Not surprisingly I decided to do this in WordPress. I’m not someone with great technical skills these days but am pretty proficient with WP and thanks to a very handy guide from Steve Boneham for setting up XAMPP/Wordpress on a memory stick combined with Mike’s guide to handy CMS-like WP plug-ins, the old faithful Morning After theme, a great deal of copy and paste plus a splash of compfight.com sourced CC pics I ended up with a pretty decent looking, functional site.

So by 4pm today I found myself with a fully functional demo site that mirrors the content of the existing site but gives a flavour of what could be achieved using a tool like WordPress very quickly and cheaply. Plus it doesn’t look half bad all things considered! If I was to go forward I’d look to arrange for a custom theme (or some kind of framework) that better represented the visual identity but for now I’m pretty happy🙂