I’ve been busy for the past few days in Photoshop CS3, developing a graphic that will serve as the entry portal to my website. I locked onto the domain about two years ago, but found that schoolwork just never gave me a chance to really sit down and work on making something with all the space on the domain. Now, seven months after graduating (and now that I have wireless broadband), I’m finally at the point where I can make something. As opposed to my Geocities days (which started about 12 years ago), Web development for me these days isn’t just a matter of jumping into a WYSIWYG environment and making a series of HTML pages. Yes, I well recall those days of Web 1.0… or was it really Web 0.5? :-) Things are a lot more complex today, but more exciting. In the past two years, I have found myself referring to Web 1.0 webpages as “tombstones.” They deliver information, but aren’t truly dynamically interactive with the user/passerby.
One of the big things that has slowed me down is deciding how I want that initial page to appear. For a couple of reasons, I opted against a Flash splash page, and am leaning toward doing something a little more artsy (though not too artsy… after all, I’m much more of a process engineer than I am a “makes pretty things” person). I’m taking care when it comes to my selection of typography, colors, etc. I have to admit, I am rather partial to black or dark pages.
I also plan on including a few entry “portals” within the initial portal page. Since traditional narrative development was my starting point in developing historical content, I want to position a hot spot (in a mini-graphic) for that somewhere in a leading position on the page. After that, I plan on creating a transition of hot spots (through more mini-graphics) for other history-related projects that I have worked on, from “interactive”/user-experience-focused print works to different projects on the Web (including blogging and wikis).
All-in-all, I want this to be transparent when it comes to keeping readers mindful of how the Web continues to give us the opportunity to deliver educational content in innovative ways. I also want to shed more light on the dynamic means of historical content delivery made possible through the electronic environment of the Web. At the same time, I don’t want readers/users to lose focus on traditional narrative as the foundations upon which we step-off into the more dynamic environment. I’m also intent on bringing some form of awareness to the fact that digital literacy (writing AND reading for the Web) is a modification of the way that we have written and read in the world of traditional print.
In other areas of this site, I want to create space where a reader/user will become immersed in interactive historical content, focused less on transparency and more on reader/user-experience. Of course, “memory” of the Civil War and other aspects that I have remained devoted to in blogging, will remain in the spotlight of this developing site (though I’m not saying that other historical eras might not slip in, somewhere within the site) .
As far as a wireframe goes, I think it goes without saying that it is an open-ended affair. Throughout the initial development phase, I need to make sure I don’t close down potential pathways for future development. I think the initial work-up is always the most difficult part. After that, I think things will begin to flow a bit easier.