Redesigning the Centre for Environmental History site

Well this took way more work than I expected! I’ve updated the Centre for Environmental History’s website with a new theme. The main reasons:

  • The old site’s homepage had a big ‘hero image’ slider for news items at the top. It was often difficult finding the right image (one that wouldn’t obscure the title text) and it was just a bit too ‘in-your-face’. The new News slider is understated, and allows readers to see more news items at once on the homepage.
  • The homepage now features three randomly selected bios and research projects. Readers get a glimpse straight-up at our great people and projects.
  • The People, Publications (books), and Research pages weren’t consistent, and the uSquare plugin I used made it too difficult to read our members’ bios. I made new individual posts for each bio, and updated the images for each of the research projects to suit the larger format. Now bios, research projects, and books, are posts which I can list with the site’s built in page templates or by simply calling all posts with that category. Much easier to manage, easier to share individual bios or projects, and consistent.
  • The new theme is great for featuring field trip stories. Tom Griffiths (CEH Director) has been asking me to get all of us posting stories to the CEH website, especially the PhD students. The ‘Stories from the Field’ series was our idea for getting us to reflect on field work, and showcase the kind of material that doesn’t usually make it into theses and journal articles – colour photos, audio, videos and narrative accounts of our trips. It’s a great thing to do, especially for the students – one benefit is being able to show people what your topic is in a concrete way (rather than some tortured academic conference abstract). Now prospective interviewees, conference attendees, other students, etc can check out your posts before meeting. The layout of the field trip stories is inspired by sites such as Medium. Check out the first in the series: ‘Digging Deep into the US National Archives’, Diane Erceg’s report and reflections on her archival research in the United States. It’s a great story complimented with fantastic images. (Diane is one my PhD students, writing a history of Antarctic tourism – thanks to Diane for willing to go first!)

There’s still a bit of work to go:

  • Creating new posts for all our books (and photographing covers for any I don’t already have)
  • Working on how Events will be displayed. I’d like to get away from NextGen Galleries and only use Jetpack’s tiled galleries. I’ll start adding an events category label to News posts that are also ‘events’. This will reduce doubling up, and I can easily list them on the Events page.
  • Some cosmetic changes (around the footer, etc)
  • Bits and pieces I’ve missed

CEH screenshot

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