Initial high-visual design in Photoshop.

Thanks for visiting my website, although I’m sorry to say that it’s still a work in progress. Somewhere in the region of 80% done to begin with but after years of procrastinating with websites I figure its time to chuck something up on the web and hope for the best.

Rather than hide all the stuff I’ve worked on, I thought I’d use my first post to describe how pp.net was put together and what is left to do.

Preparing the design

I started with a rough sketch, this is probably one of my first pages of notes. Most of my websites start this way – random scribblings on paper as I start to figure out what goes where and what I want to do. For once I have a really clear idea for a design in my head and a fair idea of how to put it together.

Mostly ineligible scribbling on paper, including a tiny pen sketch of the page layout.

Building the grid layout

I have to start building quickly, before I lose momentum (and give up, and go enjoy my spare time). This mentality has led to my website being on hiatus for the best part of two years. So I start to plan low-res visuals in Photoshop.

Coding of the grid layout begins in Taco HTML Editor.

I’m trying a few new things this time around. For example, since the last website iteration I’ve become obsessed with twitter, so I need a twitter feed. I’m also trying a brand new Content Management System (CMS) to save me time when the design is done. By the time I get around to start coding anything I am too invested too much time into my design to give up and go play games. I must finish.

Coding of the grid layout begins in Taco HTML Editor.

The weblog

The weblog was an absolute after thought – well I knew that I would be making one, but I wanted to concentrate on the games content. So rather than create something from scratch, I settled for Ensellitis’s theme for WordPress.

And then well into theming my weblog for wordpress I realised after some technical jiggery-pokery… that I didn’t want to use WordPress and why not try blogging in something else? So with Alex (the PHP and Javascript guru), I started Isolation in Frog CMS.

Coding of the grid layout begins in Taco HTML Editor.

Now hours of coding and testing follows. Alex had to do quite a lot of tweaking of the Frog backend to get to play nice with the design, that and getting the date images GIFs to behave was probably the trickiest part. The weblog was running in Frog after about 40 minutes of play on my end – and working fully (with all of the features I wanted from WordPress) after about a week. We both have other stuff to do full-time I sure we could have cracked it quicker.

Left to do

Start to finish technically, this has taken about three months worth of spare moments. My first lot of content took a month, as I wasn’t keen to rush my work out ASAP. As far as I am aware, the only things left to fix is the inspiration page, which is another task in itself. I’m also aware that blog entries, and my contact page, do not validate properly, because of the way the CMS interprets my forms, all other pages should validate, and look lovely in all modern browsers (and iPhones!). Hey as long as you’ve got Javascript on.

So I’m about two years late. Let me know what you think. Was it worth the effort?

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