Historic Places Trust membership forms

Size: 7 membership/subscription/donation forms

Government status: Crown Entity

My professional status: employee at Shift

Website client: Historic Places Trust

Dates: July - October 2008

Categories: Showcase sites, Front-end developer, Govt web standards tester, Writing for the web, CSS-based layout, jQuery/JavaScript, e-govt/WCAG compliance, Sitecore, Government websites, Small sites

Brief: to build a set of 7 membership, subscription, and donation forms for the Historic Places Trust corporate website. The IA and design originally called for a large master form containing all the elements for the individual forms, controlled by a JavaScript file.

However, as the JavaScript became more and more complex I decided to split them into the 7 separate forms in order to achieve the functionality required. The programming and integration of the forms was carried out by Datacom using the Sitecore CMS.

My responsibilities included:

  • Development of the forms in CSS and XHTML 1.0 Transitional, which would then be integrated into the Sitecore CMS by Datacom
  • Hand-coding in XHTML 1.0 Transitional to a reasonable level of accessibility, and following NZ e-government Guidelines
  • Inclusion of full accessibility coding of the form elements with e-govt testing of all files
  • Modification and optimisation of the JavaScript file which controls the form functionality
  • Extensive testing of the forms at all stages of the development process, ensuring complete consistency across the following browsers and platforms:
    • PC: Internet Explorer IE6, IE7; Firefox 2, Firefox 3
    • Mac: Firefox 2, Firefox 3, Netscape, Opera, Safari 2, Safari 3
  • Ensuring that every page and stylesheet had been validated using the W3C Markup Validation Service and that it conformed to XHTML 1.0 Transitional requirements
  • Close liaison with the Datacom team in order to ensure that they could easily integrate my templates into Sitecore, including writing a technical handover document to explain how everything worked
  • Ongoing support for the Sitecore developers after handover of my templates, providing them with HTML and CSS for a variety of new elements and changes to the design and form functionality while they were doing the integration
  • Development of print stylesheets for all the forms.

The forms for HPT are probably the most complex I've ever built - especially with the original plan whch was to build one master form where elements would be controlled by the CMS. CSS form layout is tricky at the best of times, and with so many elements and such a large browser list it was quite a challenge, requiring painstaking coding and testing.

My Shift colleague Tom St George wrote the intial JavaScript for me, as the varied functionality requirements were complex and beyond my JavaScripting abilities. However, in the weeks following initial rollout, further functionality was requested by the client and it became clear that the master form approach would no longer work with a single JavaScript file. At this point I broke the master form into 7 separate forms and rewrote the JavaScript file myself, figuring out what each line of code was for and modifying it as necessary.