National Library of New Zealand

Size: 37 template pages

Government status: Government Agency

My professional status: employee at Shift

Website client: National Library of New Zealand

Dates: July - October 2006

Categories: Client liaison, Front-end developer, Govt web standards tester, CSS-based layout, e-govt/WCAG compliance, Plone, Government websites, Large sites

Brief: to build a set of HTML/CSS templates for the National Library of New Zealand, to replace their existing site.

The templates would then be integrated by into the Plone CMS so that it would be fully editable by the National Library's web team.

My responsibilities included:

  • Development of the site in CSS and HTML 4.01 Transitional, which would then be integrated into Plone
  • Liaison with the client in order to achieve all their aims for the site, and to work through a range of technical and implementation issues with them
  • Hand-coding in HTML 4.01 Transitional to a very high level of accessibility, and following NZ e-government Guidelines
  • Inclusion of all possible accessibility elements, including skip links, access keys, alt tags, titles, summaries, captions and full accessibility coding for forms, with accessibility testing of all pages (level 1 mandatory, level 2 as many as possible, level 3 wherever practical)
  • Extensive testing of the site at all stages of the development process, ensuring complete consistency across the following browsers and platforms:
    • PC: Internet Explorer 5.01, IE5.5, IE6; Firefox, Netscape, Opera
    • 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
  • Development of print stylesheets sitewide.

This was a major project, and the design went through a number of iterations while I was building the templates. It was quite a challenge - a pixel-perfect design which had to be replicated in CSS, and which had to be consistent across a wide range of browsers and platforms. The website has a liquid layout, with min- and max-width setting, which I achieved using the cross-browser "Jello Mold" technique. The design was complex, and required me to regularly think outside the box in order to replicate it in HTML/CSS.

My perfect set of templates was then handed over to for integration into Plone. Sadly this was not as straightforward as they had anticipated and they ended up changing my HTML and CSS quite substantially due to the restrictive nature of Plone. Those original templates were beautiful, though. Kudos to the National Library team for seeing the project through to completion. It was quite a mission!

Other websites for the National Library of New Zealand