Saturday, September 26, 2009

Designing a Random Photo Album

More on my Church Web Page redo:

It's nice to have a picture on the front page, showing the church, or, more importantly, the people who make up the church. It's even nicer to have the picture change occasionally.

The ideal way to do this is to make a Flash slideshow, something easily accomplished with SWFTools, available in fine Linux distributions everywhere. It's fairly simple: Load up all the pictures in order, and export the file, possibly making a political statement everyone in the Universe will ignore. ahem Sorry, some things die hard.

The advantage of Flash is that everything is loaded into your visitors browser once, and then stays there, rotating pictures, for as long as she/he is on the page.

The disadvantage, at least with the method used here, is that the pictures are always in the same order. Which means that the casual visitor, who only stays on your site for maybe 60 seconds at a time, will only get a few pictures, always in the same order.

Not to mention, every time you add or subtract a picture from the lineup, you've got to recompile the animation — not an onerous task, but an annoyance.

PHP can solve part of this problem.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

[Why Would You Want To] Run Multiple Copies of Internet Explorer[?]

Comes the time in the life of every web page designer, including those of us who are in no danger of losing our amateur status, when he must face the fact that half of is audience is going to be using Internet Explorer to view his artwork.

And not just the current version of Internet explorer. There's IE8, IE7, IE6, and, dear Lord protect us, even IE5 is sometimes seen in the wild. Of course, each version of IE has its quirks. IE6 does CSS badly, IE7 does it a bit better, and IE8 is better yet, though not perfect. To show you an example of the differences, here's a screen shot of one of our pop-up menus. The first one's IE8, but it's pretty much the same in all reasonable browsers:

Then there's IE7, which looks like this:

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Page Under — Construction?

More on Church web page design:

In general, I tend to agree with the notion that under construction web pages are lame. However, a church is a collection of committees, and not every committee runs on the same schedule as your humble webmaster, especially during a Washington summer. So some pages just aren't ready yet. I have the structure of the web site set up, and I don't want visitors to jump to the File Not Found page when they click on a menu item. Something is needed to fill that empty space.

So I picked this icon off the under construction is bad page:

It's Da Vinci's helicopter, of course. An object that probably would work, but just hasn't been built yet. Perfect for a web page that isn't quite ready yet.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Amateur Web Page Design

Let's put this right out front: I'm not a professional web page designer. I'm not even a low-handicap amateur web page designer. I flunked web page design.

However, I have put together at least one web page that gets a lot of attention in its field — more for its content than for its looks. So, I guess, I'm a somewhat competent web page designer.

As a result, over the last dozen years or so I've been in charge of keeping up my church's web page. The thing just grew, sort of like Topsy. It started out as a high school web design project, the designer left for college and I just kept adding things. Sermon pages, Christian Education pages, newsletters, etc.

It got to be a bit of a mess.