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From Concept to Completion: Weekly Web Design Series

Developing a successful Web site involves much more than just a pretty design; in fact, the most important factor for success is a thorough planning phase that lays out important details long before the first design concept is ever started. In “From Concept To Completion,” We’ll publish a new article every Monday that follows the development of the Greater Dunnellon Historical Society’s Web site, a pro bono project that we’ve recently taken on to build our portfolio. In this, the first installment of our series, we focus on our initial meeting with the DHS leadership, where we gather the information that we need to define priorities and develop a plan.

Client Profile: Greater Dunnellon Historical Society

Our initial meeting with the Greater Dunnellon Historical Society took place in an 1890s-era railroad depot that the society maintains as a community center and a museum for local historical artifacts. A Saturday afternoon farmers’ market was well under way, and the building was steeped in a rarely felt combination of bustling activity and historical ambiance. The depot regularly plays host to events ranging from bluegrass concerts to period costume dinners, so one of the main goals for their Web site is effectively disseminating information on these community happenings. We strongly recommended including a dynamic event calendar as one of the prominent features on the site, and DHS agreed.

DHS is also on a mission to educate members of the community about Dunnellon’s history as a turn of the century railroad and mining town. The society maintains a collection of photographs dating back as far as the 1890s, creating a great opportunity for us to simultaneously immerse visitors in history and add interest to the design.

Accessibility Concerns

Dunnellon is located in deep in rural north central Florida. In an impromptu survey, nearly everyone at the depot we asked told us that they connect to the internet using a dial-up modem. Since dial-up internet connections load Web pages much more slowly than broadband, one of our highest priorities in designing the DHS site is ensuring quick load times for dial-up users. Balancing a small page file size with an engaging design will be one of the toughest challenges of this project.

Our Role In Planning

Our initial meeting with the DHS leadership was very successful. We determined key priorities for information hierarchy, were alerted to a technological limitation that could have severely pushed back the launch date had it been discovered later, and gathered a ton of great samples of 1890s era typography and architecture, which we plan to incorporate into the site’s design. Next week, we’ll post the documents that we composed, which outline basic project specifications, a sitemap, and our design notes.

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