Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Beauty of Content and Structure

I recently created a website for our lab at school: Graphics, Imaging, and Games Lab (GIGL).  I found it strangely satisfying, even though I didn't write a single line of code or create a single graphic.  Instead, I used Drupal with a pre-made template.  I really enjoyed designing how the content would be structured.

simple-drupal-wallpaper-1920-1200-white by matt.farina

The website requirements weren't complicated.  We wanted a place to post news and information about our projects and publications.  We wanted a central place where we could blog about our research, since some of us had private blogs scattered around the Internet.  We would show lab events, member profiles, and even image galleries of our work.

I had a great time designing the content types and how they would relate to each other.  For example, a project has related publications,  image galleries, and blog posts, so in each of those content types, I added a field that could refer to one or more projects.  I used the Views module to display these with the basic project info in a custom way, then created a View field for the project content type.  The view would show when the node was displayed and the rest of the fields would be hidden, giving me complete control over how I wanted to format the node.

I'm not sure how to explain it, but designing the content and structure well felt really good.  It's the same kind of feeling that I get when I make something more traditionally considered beautiful, like a good photograph or scrapbook page.  And I think it's even similar to creating software whose code has a beautiful structure.  It really goes to show how design beauty can be achieved in so many different ways.

(Note: Our GIGL website is live, but has a couple of small bugs and is still being populated with information.  Feel free to check it out anyway.)


Eugenia said...

Though I don't use Drupal much, I have heard that their community is stellar! Best of luck with your work :]

Gail Carmichael said...

It's true! Any time I wanted a module that did something, it was there.

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