Timeframes - National Library of New Zealand

Size: 36 template pages, managing thousands of images in the Alexander Turnbull collection

Government status: Government Agency

My professional status: contractor at Shift

Website client: National Library of New Zealand

Dates: July - August 2005

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

Brief: to build a CSS website as the front end to the National Library's huge image database within the Alexander Turnbull collection. The site allows users to search the collection of thousands of images, save their favourites and order images online.

Ali - I spoke to XX [National Library website developer] this morning and they have been busy integrating the homepage, search and results, and a couple of other pages. It's all good. They're happy with the code and it's easy to work with. He said to pass on his thanks for a great job.

Gerrard Smith, Project Manager, Shift

My responsibilities included:

  • Development of the site in CSS and XHTML 1.0 Transitional, which would then be integrated with the ENCompass database at the National Library
  • 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 XHTML 1.0 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 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 5.1, 5.5, 6,0; Firefox 1.0; Netscape 7.2; Netscape 8.0; Opera
    • Mac: Firefox 1.0; Safari 1.3; Netscape 7.2; Netscape 8.0; Opera
  • 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
  • Development of print stylesheets sitewide
  • Additional bug-fixing onsite at the National Library, once my templates had been cut up and used to skin the ENCompass database.

This site was the first commercial pure CSS site I built from scratch, and the learning curve was steep, to say the least! I'm very grateful to Shift for giving me that opportunity to show them what I could do. The site was 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 had a liquid layout, with min-width setting. As the min-width attribute was not understood by IE at the time, I used the new technique of the "Jello Mold" to achieve min-width in all browsers without the use of JavaScript or tables.

At the end of the project, the feedback from the National Library's programming team was that this was the best HTML and CSS they had ever been given. Not bad for my first attempt!

Other websites for the National Library of New Zealand