Historic Places Trust - Our Properties

Size: 22 template pages

Government status: Crown Entity

My professional status: employee at Shift

Website client: Historic Places Trust

Dates: July - October 2008

Categories: Front-end developer, Govt web standards tester, Writing for the web, CSS-based layout, e-govt/WCAG compliance, Sitecore, E-commerce, Government websites, Large sites

Brief: to build a set of template pages for a new website for the Historic Places Trust, which focused on their properties around the country that are open to visitors. The design was complex and beautiful, and was a real joy to build.

The site included detailed information about the Trust's places to visit, venue hire, events, exhibitions and tours, and included an online store. The programming and integration of the templates was carried out by Datacom using the Sitecore CMS.

My responsibilities included:

  • Development of the site 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 a range of accessibility elements, including skip links, alt tags, titles, summaries, captions and full accessibility coding for forms, with e-govt testing of all pages
  • Inclusion of swfobject for Flash elements and the creation of noFlash content
  • Extensive testing of the site 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
  • 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
  • Writing a very detailed and comprehensive handover document for the Datacom team so that their integration into Sitecore would run smoothly and they would be able to replicate our design/build pixel-perfectly
  • 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 while they were doing the integration
  • Development of print stylesheets sitewide.

This was one of the prettiest designs I had worked on in ages, and it was such a pleasure to build. The designer (Sue Quigley from Shift) and I worked closely together to ensure that my templates were an exact replica of her original designs.

The templates were integrated into the Sitecore CMS by Datacom, so it was important to maintain close communications with HPT and the Datacom team, both to ensure that my templates could be integrated easily into the CMS, and also to ensure they had sufficient information to create a pixel-perfect rendition of these templates within the CMS. This included the production of a comprehensive handover document for the Datacom programmers, and many joint meetings.

Sue and I were absolutely thrilled by the fact that Datacom's integration into Sitecore resulted in a pixel-perfect replication of my templates, which is something that you can't always rely on to happen when you give away your templates to another company. Datacom were a real pleasure to work with, and the handover experience, while fairly slow and painstaking, was extremely good.

The Historic Places Trust liked Sue's design so much, they migrated their entire existing site into our Our Properties templates. This migration was handled in its entirety by another design company.