Website proposal.


LOOK AND LAYOUT

The site will definitely benefit from having a more sophisticated look. The Imani Winds spirit would lend itself well to a somewhat more restrained - but still festive and glamorous - style. The goal would also be to please, not tire, the user's eyes: avoid pure white and neon green on black, avoid red and green together, avoid text over graphic background, and add distinctive formatting to the text for better readability (for example, the repertoire page is pretty much a block of white text on black background).

Since screens tend to become larger and larger in these recent years, it's a good idea to use a centered layout as opposed to having the site "glued" to the upper left corner of the window.

The navigation should be duplicated, in text form, at the bottom of each page as a small comfort for users - especially since a few pages do turn out be fairly long.

NEW FUNCTIONALITY

Changes and additions that would enhance user experience:

  • Add a search function (should be very useful - there's a wealth of information on the site!)
  • Reorganise photo gallery and photo archive so that album titles are showing properly. Get rid of pop up windows (many users have pop ups blocked completely) - it's a much better and more user-friendly practice to have images load on the same page where thumbnails are. Also, currently the gallery pages produce Javascript errors that need to be corrected.
  • Add a built-in player so that music is readily available to the user at any time during their visit. Alternatively, play included mp3s via small inline stylised players. Both approaches make for a much smoother user experience than linking directly to media files.
  • Add "permanent" boxes that are shown regardless of where the visitor is on the site. It's a good idea to have two - one with with the nearest upcoming events, the other with recent news in a dynamic "ticker" (linking to entries on the news page)
  • Add an RSS feed. This is an extremely useful and important feature for every site that is updated fairly regularly. Users can subscribe to the feed (via their web browser, a feed aggregator application, or a mobile device) and be presented with a short summary of the most recent updates as soon as they happen.
  • Add an online contact form as an alternative to just using email links (with possibility to choose the subject and recipient)
  • In the calendar section, add direct "buy tickets" links to the listed events.

STRUCTURE AND TECHNICAL NOTES

Considering Imani Winds' level of activity and popularity (the site is fairly large as it is and will grow very fast!), it would be great to organise all information present on the site into a relational database. This will make both managing the content and presenting it to the user much more effective; the difference is much like difference between a roomful of books and a properly catalogued library. On user's side, a database will allow for effective, flexible presentation strategies (including easy implementation of search with various filters, etc); server-side, much updating work will be automated.

If necessary, I can create a content management panel that will allow to easily add and edit any information on the site via an intuitive web-based interface.

The current version of imaniwinds.com is written in textbook-perfect HTML of 15+ years ago, which means it's compliant with the oldest browsers in existence. This is a great thing, but the good news is that with careful application of modern technologies the site will degrade gracefully for visitors with outdated browsers, while boasting added functionality - and being, simply, more fun! - for users with newer machines and browsers. It's advisable to use contemporary technologies like CSS, PHP and Ajax to enhance user's browsing experience by providing new features and dynamic content.

Last but not least:
DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT PRINCIPLES

I stand by the following principles of good usability:

  • Ease of navigation and good readability
  • Cross-browser and cross-platform compatibility
  • 100% valid, standards-compliant HTML and CSS
  • Clean, error-free Javascript
  • Graceful and lossless degradation for incapable browsers (even if a visitor has javascript disabled, cannot view images and cannot display CSS formatting, the site will remain completely readable and usable for them).

***

TIME AND COST ESTIMATES

  • Redesign / reorganization with extant info structure (no database or content management panel): 2-3 weeks / $1700
  • Same, with database: 3 weeks / $2100
  • Same, with database and content management panel: 4 weeks / $3000

Upon completion, routine maintenance (minor changes, corrections, troubleshooting, etc): free.
All image retouche/correction related to the project: included in the estimates.



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