The Gathering Archives

The Gathering Archives


Size: 400+ pages plus a WordPress blog

My professional status: independent web designer/developer

Website client: me

Dates: October 2006 - present

Categories: Showcase sites, Project manager, IA & UX, Website designer, Front-end developer, Writing for the web, Content-loader, Webmaster, CSS-based layout, WordPress, No CMS, Large sites

Brief: New Year 2006/07 marked the 10th anniversary of the first Gathering dance party on top of Takaka Hill near Nelson.

The last Gathering was held over New Year 2001/02, and as I had been involved in the organisation of four out of the six Gatherings, and had created the original Gathering website, I felt sad that there was virtually nothing remaining online about these iconic events.

In October 2006 I set about creating, designing, building and writing the Gathering Archives website, with the aim of becoming the authoritative source of information on the history and background of The Gathering.

The site is divided into different sections for each of the six Gatherings, and includes facts & figures, media coverage, Gathering artwork, photos, video and film footage, Gatherer stories and maps of the venue for each party.

I think you’ve done a great job with the website – it must have been a mammoth effort and a labour of love. Inspirational. Well done.

Jamie Larnach, DJ and event organiser, Entrain

My responsibilities included:

  • Determination of what should be included in the site and how it should be laid out
  • Scoping, information architecture and wireframing
  • Site design - with the graphical inspiration for each section being taken from The Gathering artwork for that year
  • Development of the site in CSS and HTML 4.01 Transitional, using Dreamweaver templates and library items in order to facilitate future updates
  • Hand-coding in HTML 4.01 Transitional to a high level of accessibility, and following NZ e-government Guidelines
  • Inclusion of a wide range of accessibility elements, including skip links, access keys, alt tags, titles, summaries, captions and full accessibility coding for forms, with e-govt testing of all pages
  • Integration of to force IE6 to display pngs properly - this was a design where the use of pngs in some places was unavoidable
  • Extensive testing of the site at all stages of the development process, ensuring complete consistency across the following browsers and platforms:
    • PC: Internet Explorer IE5.01, IE5.5, IE6, IE7; Firefox
    • Mac: Firefox, Netscape, Opera, Safari
  • Ensuring that every page and stylesheet had been validated using the W3C Markup Validation Service and that it conformed to HTML 4.01 Transitional requirements
  • Researching/writing/creating all content. My aim is for the site to be seen as the authoritative source of information about The Gathering, and to be a place where Gatherers can go and relive the memories - and to create it in a manner that is easily accessible and good to look at
  • Regular updates and additions - I've tended to work on the site in phases - I might focus intensively on it for a month or two, and then leave it for a while if I'm busy on other projects
  • Collection and inclusion of all press coverage ever received by The Gathering - this includes endless research at the National Library's National Newspaper Collection, much scanning and photocopying of microfiches, and the purchase of a special copyright licence which allows us to include these articles on the website
  • Collection and inclusion of Gathering photos taken by Gatherers and crew over the years
  • Collection and inclusion of Gathering videos and film - mainly stored on YouTube
  • Responding to many emails about The Gathering which I receive via the website - including submissions of material to be included on the site
  • Webhost management
  • The design, creation and upkeep of The Gathering Archives blog, which is built as a stand-alone WordPress site.

I'm quite proud of this website. It took me a year to design, build and write enough of it to get it online - and within a few days of it going live I received a phone call from Radio New Zealand, who had seen the site and had been inspired to create a documentary entitled The Gatherers, which has been broadcast and re-broadcast quite a few times since. It was great fun to reminisce with the producer, Kirsten Johnstone, and to be one of those interviewed for the show.

With an event as large and far-reaching as The Gathering, it's impossible for anyone to have a complete picture of what went on at even one party, let alone six! For this reason I have made the site as inclusive as possible, with a strong message to visitors that I need their input and submissions in order to put together the jigsaw puzzle that was the party.

I have clearly shown where we are missing vital pieces of information on the site, and have created a series of pages to enable visitors to make their own submissions. I'm planning to improve the submission process, as there are now much more direct ways of storing and receiving files (integration with Flickr etc) which weren't really possible when I first built the site. This will probably require a redesign of the homepage at least, in order to guide visitors to the "take action" areas.

The blog is built in WordPress and hosted on The Gathering Archives server. I used an existing theme and completely re-skinned it in order to match the design to the main site, while allowing it to have its own identity. I use it to communicate with visitors, let them know what's new on the site, and to include articles and essays that don't really have a home on the main site.


ONYAS finalist

Finalist, Best Content (Personal) - ONYAs web awards 2010

A multi-media mashup of memoir, fractured histories and anecdotes from a series of events that erased the memories of many that were there. Alison's site is a public service...

The Best Content (Personal) category is sponsored by New Zealand Post.

The ONYAs celebrate those who design, develop and create New Zealand's best websites and applications. They're awards by the industry, for the industry. I was thrilled that this labour of love was selected as one of the finalists.

Best Content (Personal) - Alison Green for The Gathering Archives from Webstock on Vimeo.