Thursday, January 17, 2008

HLN Tech. Stuff

Greetings and salutations to the users of the Horizon League Network! Let me start by stating that even though I have followed blogging from its inception to what it is today, I have not really put forth much effort into blogging myself.

I typically spend most of my time actually coding something instead of talking about what I do or how I do it. I am really excited to be blogging with some top notch individuals who really care about the user experience and who pay attention to not only new technologies, but to the people who use their website. Every day I speak to Nate Flannery who runs the website and discuss ways to make the website better in terms of functionality and usability. It is a privilege to be able to work with people who listens to the user community and quickly acts on their needs.

With regard to the HLN technology, I guess I can really start at the beginning. First, I must give credit to MediaSauce
who created a really engaging design for the website. It’s been a blast working with them and they are very good at website designs, 3D, and also interactive motion via Flash.

For the technology side, as always, I try to do something a little new that I have never done in the past. With HLN, the website is really just a collection of pieces of information that are basically widgets. So instead of taking the route of developing a dynamic database driven website of a typical CMS, I broke up each information section into its own class that can be run independently by itself or dependant on information being passed into a widget.

If you take the live events section for example, this widget could really be run outside of the website if needed or when embedded into the website, it takes the page’s properties and will display the relevant upcoming live event information pertaining to a school.

What this means is that each widget has great flexibility in how it is used or where it can be placed within the website. A widget can be duplicated multiple times on a page such as the advertisements and each widget will still be unique.

I would say the difference between a typical CMS and this approach is that the widgets are not dependent on a fixed layout, but rather the position of the X and Y coordinates. That means when the HLN website needs a new design, we can change out the design and re-position each widget very easy so the current content does not have to be re-written. The design can then be anything that is imagined - hopefully.

My feeling is that a few years ago this would not have been possible due to non-standard browsers, but as browsers adopt unified standards, this type of flexibility is now possible.

My passion is usability for a website and I believe that this underlying core of code will allow me to continue to easily modify the website to really suit its users based on their needs and how they interact with it.

I think that is it for now. I can continue to ramble on with my thoughts on other aspects of the technology, but I think I’ll save that for another day. If anyone has questions on the technology, I would be more than happy to answer them in my next blog. Just use the feedback link in the website to ask those questions.


Derek Swanson

No comments:

Post a Comment