Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Brand new website!


It has been a while in the making, but I've now posted the new version of the  Jim Harper Designs website out on the Internet. 

This is the first major update to my site in far too long. In the interim, website design has changed dramatically.

Now, a large percentage of people surfing the web do it via smartphones. While in the "old" days one laid out webpages assuming they would be viewed on a standard computer-based browser, that type of design causes the smart-phone user especially to have to view the verbiage in such a small font size as to render it almost unreadable.

The  the updated site is created with a responsive design at its core. I eschewed using a CMS system (e.g., WordPress, Square Space, Joomla) for this particular project, for a "hand-coded" site using a Bootstrap base, just to show some coding savvy for those who are looking for a website designer. I have done work in a number of CMS systems including WordPress, Square Space, Joomla--the Bound for Glory radio show site I run is built on WordPress, so I have those skills as well. A good designer, even if designing on a CMS system, should know what is "under the hood" to be able to customize the site for their client's needs. 

The home page features my little cartoon character, Sylvester K. Nordlefink taking a walk, and an interactive graphic at the top that also acts as the website's main menu. I had originally designed this "you gotta have art" menu ten years ago, and had used a html image map to create it, but the new version utilizes an SVG graphic that allows for greater interactivity. SVGs are less likely to be depreciated as accepted html code than image maps in the near term, and have the ability to resize to fit whatever screen you are viewing it on.

There are a number of other features built into the site, including the "accordion" style of page layout on my Graphic Design page. I have over a 150 images just on that page, and I needed to figure out how to make all of that work without making the page too long or overwhelming. The accordion layout did the trick.

Most of the images as on that page I also created as thumbnails--that pop up a closeup view when clicking on them--that also saved space and loading time.

I also took some time to work on some of the "hidden" features of websites--optimizing the site for search engines (commonly known as SEO). Responsive design, "alt" tags for all the images, Open Graph meta tags, and more help bring sites up in the rankings.

Ir rook a month and a half to pull everything together and get it all coded, and there are a lot more features that I hope to add in the future, but for now it was time to get it out the door. Hope you enjoy, and please send me feedback!