Showcasing ExpressionEngine websites from all over the web
Spotlight on Digital Media and Learning
The fine folks at the Spotlight on Digital Media and Learning blog came to us with an existing ExpressionEngine Web site, and the need for a major overhaul of the site on front- and back-ends. We love a challenge, and the first one was to figure out how the site fit together. It was a bit of a mishmash of older ExpressionEngine coding and unused templates (or were they?).
Spotlight covers the intersection of technology and education to show how digital media is used in and out of classrooms. It was launched in 2009, and funded by the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning Initiative.
It’s always interesting to look at a site built by another EE company. Of course they do things differently—which is not to say better or worse—and seeing how another brain approaches a problem you consider “solved” prompts you to think things through again. There’s also a lot of satisfaction in taking many lines of code and condensing them into a few lines of code, and revamping any site created several years ago gives you a chance to do just that, regardless of the platform.
While we were operating on the code, we also stripped out templates that were not longer in use, redirected URLs, and generally made the backend easier for the Spotlight staff to maintain themselves. Then we got to think about design.
Because the Spotlight blog is funded by a grant program, and has a specific mandate, we knew we needed to give visitors quick access to information about the mission, and that the design needed to reflect the seriousness of what Spotlight is doing while still having a modern and attractive interface. Graphics of stick figures and primary colors were out; subtle and professional were in. We frankly love the result we came up with, which relies heavily on typography and a limited color palette to generate visual interest while letting the content—especially the video stories—be in the ... well, spotlight. Throw in some editorial process control in ExpressionEngine, a Twitter rollcall, implement the new design, and it’s like a whole new site.
Spotlight staffers tells us they love the new look, and so do their readers. We’re pretty proud of this one, and we can’t stop reading the stories either!
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