Last week was the official launch of the latest site I built, The Charter Project. This has been an on-going project for a group of University of Windsor Law students. Their aim is to promote the 30th anniversary of the charter of rights and freedoms here in Canada. While there has been several stages to this site this represents the full public launch of the Charter Project. To coincide with the site launch there has been a wealth of media produced including; Public Service Announcements for broadcast on TV and in Theatres, Interviews with High ranking Layers and Celebrity endorsements.
From a tech stand point this is also the most ambitious site I have built. I started from the groung up with WordPress, my current CMS of choice. Say what you will about WordPress but it’s a well supported platform with a large community of developers and and is pretty wickedly modifiable to any need. Several “big” plugins were used on the site that added necessary functionality my clients required notably: WPML, the multilingual content plugin, and bbPress to run a forum on the site.
Using bbPress for the forum seemed like a no brainer, it’s built by Automattic, the guys behind WordPress, comes ready to go as a plugin, and integrates users fron WordPress seamlessly. While the bbPress Plugin is version 2.0.2 (as of this writing) it clearly has a ways to go before theming a bbPress forum is as straightforward as theming for WordPress.
Adjusting anything other than basic CSS for a WordPress/bbPress forum is a bit of a nightmare. Developers must copy a dozen or so files and folders into the root of the WordPress theme folder, and understand how to hack the functions.php file. This is pretty messy process and makes differentiating bbPress and WordPress files confusing. I look forward to a day when I can just place a custom bbPress theme folder into my WP custom theme folder and have clear separation of each.
That said, I’m still quite happy with what I could do with bbPress. Once I figured out the mess that is custom theming, bbPress is functional easy to use and works well for admins of the site and users of the forum. I look forward to seeing waht the future holds for this product.
This was my attempt to build a responsive site for a client. While I have built responsive sites in the past (this one, for example) working with a client it more interesting. I took a different approach to it than I did with lineandpixel.com and I feel the results are better.
I used HTML5 boilerplate as a base structure and built up from there. If you are a developer and you don’t know HTML5 Boilerplate, shame on you! It provides many of the resources required to build a good responsive site right in the source, including modernizr, jQuery and other goodness. On top of this I added CSS3-mediaqueries.js for older browser compliance and the lovely FitVids and FitText. As opposed to using a pre-built CSS grid framework like I did with this site I opted out and went with the mobile first approach to design, everything on the site scales from 320 pixels wide (mobile) up to 1024+ pixels (desktop).
The mobile first / responsive design allows users of all platforms to use and enjoy the content of the site no matter where or how they choose to view it. As The Charter Project site aims to reach as many Canadians as possible this seemed to be the best solution to ensure that this goal is achieved now and into the foreseeable future. This development process is the way forward considering the explosion of mobile computing. Every site I build in the future will use this process a starting point.
I’m interested to see how this site grows in the future, there is a lot for users to explore and interact with on the The Charter Project. My hope is that the Charter Project is an experience that will engage Canadians, and convince them to talk openly about the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. With loads of videos to watch, a workshop for teachers and student to use facilitate learning and a forum for users to discuss on, I believe The Charter Project is well on it’s way to becoming the resource for anyone interested in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The Charter Project and I have worked together and achieved what all sites wish to accomplish, delivering valuable content to users that need it.