We recently launched a site for the design exhibition Some Assembly Required. We put it together a bit differently than most of our sites. Here are some of the details of the products and tech used for it.
We started the site with a design concept already defined by the design department (Andrew Blauvelt, Design Direction and Chad Kloepfer, Design). The design example we had to work with was a postcard with a dotted outlined type that split the page in half. We approximated that feeling with a large horizontal stripe and the same dotted logo in our design.
When deciding what tool to use for the site build we considered creating it on our own admin but instead we decided to use a Wiki software called PmWiki. That program allows pages to be edited easily by a group of authors. Each author can create, edit and delete whole pages or any section of a page. The software sets up a flexible organic structure that allowed us to add pages or whole groups of pages to the site easily and with out prior planning. That was extremely helpful since we were under time constraints that didn’t allow for a large amount of time spent planning an information structure. A wiki could be accessed by anyone in the Walker or outside to edit and add content. And finally the Wiki being a prefabricated software product itself seemed a good conceptual match for a show about prefabricated architecture. There are some formidable downsides to using a wiki. There is a limited range of styles and layouts you can use. It does not tie into our existing database so content reuse later will be more difficult. We decided the good outweighed the bad for this application.
This wiki is skinable through the editing of several files. Most of the design is handled in the CSS files with only a few graphics. Any image graphics are added by authors. We had to turn on HTML in the PmWiki settings because the design needed a couple of DIVs dynamically filled above the logo. Typing HTML into the wiki text window runs counter to the wiki philosophy of keeping authors away from code and layout so they can focus on writing. Unfortunately I couldn’t contain all of this design in one PmWiki template. I’m considering doing a little clean up on the skin and releasing it to the wiki community but we may have hacked it just past the point of being useful to anyone else.
If you are interested in seeing how our wiki skin works I put the source up:
In our set up each wiki page generates a corresponding wiki page to fill the top row. To make full use of the prefab skin you will need to look at the markup to see what HTML was added to the wiki content. We have txt versions of the top row content online for the homepage and a content page.