The site ww2poster.co.uk was constructed as an electronic resource to gather data and disseminate the research-in-progress for my PhD. The website ranks highly on Google, and has been referred to as one of the top poster-websites in James Aulich War Posters: Weapons of Mass Communication (Thames & Hudson, Imperial War Museum), 2007, receiving around 500 unique visitors per day from visitors worldwide. The site has generated contacts from other academics working in the field, and information from artists’ relatives.
This screendump illustrates the initial page for the www.ww2poster.co.uk website, which uses a poster image that rotates daily over the week.
- The site started from humble beginnings in 1997, with a single page, detailing the aims of my PhD, on Tripod.
- The site continued to grow and grow organically, until I decided that it had spiralled out of control, and set to develop a well planned and aesthetically pleasing site, but was limited to using Word 97.
- I soon realised that Word produced ‘mucky code’, and started to learn basic HTML, and in 2001 attended one-to-one training to learn Macromedia Dreamweaver 4.0 and Adobe PhotoShop 5.5, and redesigned and restructured the site using the techniques learnt.
- The design is formed on tables, which means that the design works with whatever size screen the user uses (I try to do this wherever possible), and is heavily information focused.
- Usability and accessibility are key to the design of the site, although more recent developments need to be studied, as my site is not entirely ‘Bobby Approved‘, to comply with disability legislation. Some examples of accessible features include the use of Alt Tags and Meta Tags, breadcrumbs and search fucntions.
- The search function is essential to the site, as approximately 50% of people are ‘searchers’, but a clear structure to the site is also important, as the other 50% are ‘browsers’.
- Hosted by 1and1.co.uk.
With the PhD is now finished, and in response to the various questions that I get asked, the site underwent redevelopment.
- I wanted to use XML, but poor teaching techniques mean that this was not learnt, and I have decided to use a simple contemporary (HTML) design which facilitates easy use of the information on site.
- The new site still used information from the old site, but gives more options for development, and uses transferable skills from research PhD in extracting relevant information and structuring it in a useful way to those who use the site.
- Re-thinking the site has meant thinking about those areas that are most heavily used and make my site unique, for instance, the information on artists has been given its own section, rather than hidden.
- Usability and accessibility, through the use of careful structuring, thoughtful information and images, colours and layout, is expected to be key.
The site uses a dual structure for webpages:
- The site is built on a table structure (planning to change this for accessibility reasons).
- The key content navigation is available at the top of the screen, but extra navigation is available at the base of the page (as convention allows for this), with links to information about the author (me), a site map, ‘FAQ’, and copyright information, as I look to comply with legal and ethical considerations. These all need to be developed further.
- A discrete visitor count is available at the base of the front page (which assumes that all visitors come through this page, although this is not always the case), and more information on this can be obtained from my site host. Around 500 unique visitors are on the site every day.