Gifted and Talented: Support for Parents and Whānau

Size: 5 pages

Government status: Government Ministry

My professional status: contractor at CWA New Media

Website client: Ministry of Education

Dates: June 2004

Categories: Website designer, CSS-based layout, e-govt/WCAG compliance, eZ Publish, Government websites, Small sites

Brief: to design a Key Collections website as part of CWA's Te Kete Ipurangi portal website, which gave parents of gifted and talented children information about how best to serve the needs of their child.

This site was housed within the main TKI template. As such it was subject to the same rules for templating as the rest of TKI, which was written in XHTML/XML and used CSS-only formatting.

My responsibilities included:

  • Design of the website using the Ministry of Education's Gifted and Talented printed material as an initial inspiration
  • Ensuring that my design was possible within CWA's strict XHTML/XML template for TKI, and ensuring that the site would be fully accessible and easily navigable
  • Ensuring that my design was achievable using a CSS-only layout, as tables were no longer used by CWA in order to format or position the elements of a web page
  • Liaising with the developer to work out the finer points of design for CSS websites.

This was one of the first sites I designed for a CSS-only environment. As I had limited experience at that time in web development using CSS exclusively instead of tables (although I had been using CSS styles for a long time), I was on a steep learning curve. Not only did I want my design to look good and to reflect the branding already created by the Ministry of Education, I also needed to design a site which could be built using CSS, within the existing XHTML/XML template for TKI.

When I look at the design now, it looks incredibly simple and you wonder what all the fuss was about, but at the time it was A Big Deal, because I was learning a new skill, and I wanted to get it right first time - and do it well.

I did heaps of online reading and asked the developers all kinds of questions - "Can I have curved corners?" "Can you make the sidebar go all the way down the page?" "Can I have separate boxes for different elements in the sidebar?" "Can I have curved corners AND a border on my images?" - I really didn't want to make a mistake and design something that was impossible for them to build...