New Zealand String Quartet

Size: 15 WordPress template pages

My professional status: employee at Shift (phases 1 & 2), and then independent web designer/developer (phase 3)

Website client: New Zealand String Quartet

Dates: Phase 1: November 2007 - January 2008. Phase 2: July - September 2008. Phase 3: February 2011 - August 2014.

Categories: Client liaison, Project manager, IA & UX, Website designer, Front-end developer, Writing for the web, Content-loader, Webmaster, CSS-based layout, WordPress, Medium sites

Brief:  I worked on this project through a number of phases, as follows:

Phase 1: to build a new WordPress website for the New Zealand String Quartet. The old NZSQ website was built in DreamWeaver, and required NZSQ team to edit the templates by hand. A WordPress website would make it easier for them to edit, and would allow a wider range of elements to be included in the site, such as a music player, recordings section and tour schedule. (January - March 2008)

Phase 2: addition of the New Zealand music, photo gallery, Adam Summer School, donors and friends and blog sections of the site - plus rearrangement of the information architecture to accommodate these and design of the new pages and sections. (July - August 2008)

Phase 3: rearrangement of the information architecture to accommodate a number of new pages and sections, and then ongoing site maintenance and support. (February 2011 - August 2014)

Shift initially had a sponsorship agreement with NZSQ which later became a site maintenance agreement, and in February 2011 this relationship came to an end. Shift's owner, Selwyn Feary, recommended that I take over the ongoing maintenance and upgrade relationship with NZSQ, which I was very happy to do.

I maintained and took care of the website from February 2011 onwards, initially in partnership with NZSQ Manager Elizabeth Kerr, who enjoyed working on the website; and then I took over webmaster duties completely when Rose Campbell became Manager, as websites weren't really her thing. The website was re-developed in August 2014.

Hi team NZSQ! I wanted to take this opportunity to say how much I appreciate you all, what a great, substantial and consistent contribution to our work you make and what fun it’s been working with such clever, talented, professional, user-friendly and collegial people - and I look forward to keep in touch with all of you somehow! My thanks and very best wishes to you all.

Elizabeth Kerr, Manager, New Zealand String Quartet Trust

My responsibilities included:

Phase 1:

  • Development of 15 template pages in CSS and HTML 4.01 Transitional, which were then broken down and integrated into a set of WordPress templates by my Shift colleague, Dominic Collins
  • Liaising closely with Dominic to ensure that all templates could be easily integrated into WordPress
  • Hand-coding in HTML 4.01 Transitional to a reasonable level of accessibility
  • Extensive testing of the templates (and later the WordPress site) at all stages of the development process, ensuring complete consistency across the following browsers and platforms:
    • PC: Internet Explorer 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
  • Integration of the Wordtube music player which is used in various places across the site
  • Development of a comprehensive WordPress training document for the client, and participating in the training process itself
  • Development of an ongoing working relationship and liaison with the client.

Phase 2:

  • Review and alteration of the existing information architecture in order to accommodate a number of new sections into the site
  • Design of all-new pages, sections and widgets, to fit seamlessly into the existing design while retaining an identifiable "look" of their own
  • Integration of a New Zealand music section into the site, including rearranging the IA of this section, and consequent wrangling of the PHP in order to display and style the current navigation and sub-navigation item correctly, whatever the level within the site-tree
  • Research and selection of an appropriate WordPress photo gallery widget, and integration and styling of this into the existing site
  • Integration of the new Adam Summer School section into the site, including links to the Adam Summer School Facebook page which had been set up by my Shift colleague Anita Funnell
  • Integration and styling of the new donors and friends section
  • Integration and styling of the new blog section
  • Ongoing maintenance, updates and assistance as required by the client.

Phase 3:

  • Alteration of the existing information architecture (following a review by Shift) in order to move some existing sections and accommodate a number of new sections and subsections
  • Design development of the new pages incorporating new content types while still retaining design consistency with the rest of the site
  • Restructuring the functionality of the sub-navigation, which had become inconsistent across the site, and which I felt needed to be made consistent and more logical and user-friendly
  • Editing a number of new and existing pages within WordPress to ensure that they would display correctly
  • Ongoing maintenance, updates and assistance as required by the client.

In phase 1 my job was mainly to build a series of HTML templates, replicating the beautiful (and very unWordPess-like) design of my Shift colleague Chris. It was Dominic's job to wrangle the templates into some kind of working shape within WordPress during phase 1, but in phase 2 this was my job, and not being an expert in PHP I had to do quite a bit of research and learn fast. I feel pretty proud of what we achieved, and I was particularly pleased that my dogged determination to "make it work" in phase 2 resulted in the proper display of current navigation and sub-navigation elements - something we hadn't achieved in phase 1.

Two and a half years after I last worked on the website it was really cool to hear from Selwyn again and to be recommended by him to take over the maintenance of the site from Shift. I had really enjoyed working with Elizabeth Kerr, the NZSQ's manager, and it was great to catch up with her and to help with the site restructure. I loved working on this website again - 3½ years after it was first launched it still looked lovely - and at the time I think it was the best example of a WordPress site I'd been involved with.

In August 2014 the website was re-developed by another company and my webmaster services were no longer required.