Rebuilding Barn21: What, Why And How?
16th January 2018Writing this makes it real… I am going to rebuild the design of Barn21 from the ground up, and I’m aiming to have it done by June 2018.
The Barn21 homepage as of January 2018. Hopefully if you're reading this after June 2018 it's changed. Image by Barney Sheppard
What exactly am I going to do?
The project timeline. Image by Barney SheppardI’ve decided that now, early 2018, is the ideal time for me to expand my skills through a refresh of the design of Barn21. This means redesigning the look of the site, learning to build websites from scratch, and reformatting all the posts so they match the new aesthetic. Whilst this takes place, I am going to write updates as I reach each checkpoint to aid my motivation and describe my trials and tribulations from the project. Hopefully it will make for an entertaining, informative and inspiring read.
The first part, the redesign, should be relatively straightforward since I have designed layouts before and am well versed in the relevant programmes. After that comes the tricky bit, building the website. Although I briefly messed around with html during secondary school and have an AS level in computing, I would class myself as an amateur when it comes to coding websites. I expect that the learning curve will be steep, but I have plenty of time and determination in regards to conquering challenges. Hopefully my learning will trigger a chain reaction of growth that will result in an exponential development curve. Like using Photoshop etc., I expect that once you gain momentum everything else drops into place, although right now it all seems pretty daunting.
A laborious task will follow completion of the coding, reformatting all the articles to fit with the new configuration. This seems easy enough on the surface, however as of yet I have no clue how to construct an archive of posts that will function with a website ecosystem. For example, how to organise the information chronologically or apply tags and categories to the posts. Once the articles have been reformatted, all that will remain is for me to host the site, which, you guessed it, I don’t yet know how to do. Since Barn21 has always been a WordPress site, I have never involved myself with the intricacies of web hosting; I’m interested to explore how it all works.
So, that’s the timeline, and I’ll be keeping you updated along the way.
Why am I doing it?I’m sure many of my friends and university classmates would back me up when I say that I’m a perfectionist and like to be in control. In its WordPress form, the appearance of Barn21 is heavily restricted by the theme I select, with only a small selection of possible alterations. This irks me, and there are a number of aspects of Barn21’s design that I would love to change but can’t because of the limited nature of the system.
The Wordpress gallery is ugly. Image by Barney Sheppard For some reason heading text is smaller than paragraph text. Image by Barney Sheppard The site is clunky and a pain to navigate. Image by Barney SheppardThe gallery page is very ugly and poorly proportioned, plus it gives no clue as to the content on the page behind it. Another negative is that heading text (h1, h2 etc.) is smaller than paragraph text. Also, the categories are shoehorned into a dropdown list instead of displayed across the header, increasing the number of clicks a user must take to visit a certain part of the site. By building the site from the ground up I will be able to control every single thing, which should result in a more unified and engaging, as well as better streamlined, site.
I could solve many of the issues with a more powerful website builder such as Wix or Squarespace, however I want to create the site from scratch in order to learn a new skill. With the increasing importance of website design in attracting business, I feel that being able to build them myself will benefit me both in my future career as an architect and generally as a designer by gaining a knowledge of how website design works. Who knows, if I enjoy doing this maybe I’ll offer to design websites for other people. Whilst I am not treating this project as a new year’s resolution, learning to code websites has been a goal of mine for a while and now seems like the perfect opportunity to pursue it due to my minimal work commitments here in Spain. I am due to return to England in June 2018, so this seems like a logical deadline.
How will I do it?Whilst this plan may change as I gain more knowledge, I have an idea in my head of how I will achieve each stage of the project. At first, I will use hand sketches to introduce preliminary diagrams showing how each page should look, as well as a loose site map to establish how the pages will link link together. During the mock up design stage I will predominantly be using the Adobe Creative Cloud package, specifically programmes such as Illustrator, Photoshop, and After Effects. Since I have used all of those programmes before this stage should not take too long. However, when I start coding the site I will be completely in the dark. Currently, I think I am going to use Dreamweaver for consistency’s sake since it is part of the Adobe CC package, and because it seems relatively intuitive. Plus, I paid a lot for my Adobe CC Subscription, so I’m damn well going to get my money’s worth. I have not yet researched how I will host the site, but I will update you in a later post.
In order to actually learn how to code html and css etc., I plan to use YouTube and written website tutorials. There is a mountain of information regarding this topic online, so I just need to find the most useful and relevant resources. I plan to write a source list at the end of each entry in this series as I build up a network of reference material. Hopefully this will act as a handy guide and set of tools if you want to create a website for yourself.
As you can probably tell by the tone of this article, I’m really DIYing this. I know at times it’s going to be frustrating confusing, but hopefully in the end I’ll be able to achieve what I’ve set out. In my mind, the challenge is part of the fun with projects like this. I can’t wait to get started.