New Website! (Soft Launch)

Posted by Thoracius Appotite on Sunday, April 5th, 2020 at 07:09 PM

I'm still working out the kinks and finishing all the sections, but I'm super excited to present the new website!

Ok, so really the only section that's really presentable is the "Synth Patches" section; I'm really happy with how that has turned out. The rest is still coalescing both conceptually and design-wise.

One of the things I've been struggling with while brainstorming for the site is how to organize and present the content. Instead of getting caught up in a conceptual hierarchy I've decided to take a more fluid approach and simply focus on the things I felt were most important to present to the visitor: I want a portfolio exhibiting my work across all the various mediums. I want a home for my music, where everything I'm doing in that realm can be found. I want a nice interface for selling my synth patch banks. Finally, I want to be able to post blog entries, so I can share what's going on with me or even write tutorials and reviews.

I implemented this through the use of a full-page rotating "carousel," to quickly introduce the home page visitor to the main content sections of the site. The user is then easily whisked into the deeper content through these visually-striking, interactive carousel panels. That's the idea, anyway.

It's totally agnostic to conceptual hierarchy. "Portfolio" and "Updates" are pretty broad and could easily conceptually be home to the vast majority of the content on the site. If I release a new music video for a new single, that could belong in my portfolio, under the music section, and under the updates section. This approach introduces a lot of gray area, that's something I'm still digesting how to handle before completing the site. On the other hand, "Synth Patches" is a specific product category. It's much more narrow, yet sits on the menu at the same level. Ultimately, it boils down to, who does the content serve? Of course, the visitor.

Web development used to be my bread and butter, but I've barely touched it in a decade. The web has changed a lot since then. Web standards and technology have changed. Mobile devices have become ubiquitous. There are all sorts of new frameworks and tools, two of which I've been learning in order to build this site — Bootstrap and jQuery. Bootstrap helps you style a site such that it displays dynamically for all the various possible devices (and therefore all the different screen sizes). It does this by fitting everything into a grid-column structure. If there's room, columns can be displayed side-by-side. If the screen is too small, it simply stacks them on top of one another. jQuery is a JavaScript framework that provides an interface to easily control the dynamic elements and animations. Doing this same site twenty years ago when I was first getting into web development would have been inconceivably complex (if even possible). However, with these tools, it was actually quite simple.

As for the back-end, I built my own simple CMS (content management system) based off my own stripped-down MVC-ish framework. Why in the heck would I do that instead of using an off-the-shelf package such as WordPress? Well, it gives me quite a bit more flexibility, and since my design and concept are so non-standard it actually ends up being much simpler and faster to implement. It should also load much faster, since there is no general-purpose bulk.

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