Project: ScandiPoetry

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  • Completed: 2015-08-19
  • Stack: HTML, CSS, SVG, jQuery, custom REST API, PHP, MySQL, custom CMS

Goal: A website for publishing poetry translations in an easy-to-read format.

I planned for this site in my head for a long time but it took a year for me to find the necessary time to actually code it, and after I commenced the coding, it took a further half a year to finish because, well, I redid the design three times. No less would do. The site features my own translations and copywriting after all - and I struggled to create something that I felt was fit to publish said things.

Worse yet, I eventually re-did the whole thing all over again - updated stack and updated design and... Well, let's just say that I couldn't keep my hands off of it.

Anyway, let's start from the beginning

I made the translations back in late 2012 / early 2013 out of sheer interest in the two poets. It is a kind of tribute, I guess. It also saddened me that their work - and particularly that of Gustaf Munch-Petersen - wasn't well known outside of Scandinavia. Or lacked proper translations for the matter. I felt I could provide that - not because I had extensive knowledge of or experience with translations (I'd never done any before - so I learned by doing during the project), but because I had extensive knowledge about the two poets in questions since their lives and work had always fascinated me.

Originally I uploaded PDF files with the translations to my (now discontinued) poetry blog, but then I became amazed at how interested an audience there was for them, so it was soon clear to me that I had to find a better solution. That was how the idea for the ScandiPoetry site was born.

I want to talk a bit about my workflow with regards to coding the site since (besides the re-designs) it has been the best and most continuous experience I have ever had. But before that, check out the finished ScandiPoetry site.

The Process

I started out extensively planning the site. To that end, I decided to make my first style guide since 2010. It's not that I haven't felt like doing it since, it's just that I haven't been in a position to, having no time for it during school work, and never being paid for it by clients. It has bothered me, but that's how the terns have been.

I considered the Illustrator approach I used back in the day, and concluded that I didn't see the point in jumping from program to program in order to create one finished project - so I opted for coding the style guide instead. 

Setting out, I spent days deciding on fonts and line height, then colors and icons. I coded all of it, and once I was done I had a nice package of base styling I could copy over into what would become the prototype. 

Then I started designing for real. I made three designs one after the other, as I said, since I simply wasn't satisfied. It had to be responsive, and I was juggling multiple menus. This proved tricky and I had to be creative to make it work. It took two mistakes before I came up with a solution I could live with - although I will readily admit to room for improvement.

Then, once I had the design down, I made fallback styling and tested - and tested - and tested... And then, once that was done, I could simply couple the prototype to my control panel, substitute the test content for the real, dynamic content, and that's that.

I wish I had the opportunity to work that way on every project - it was such a smooth and positive experience - every step naturally led to the other with no breaks and no complete re-starts. 

It's kind of funny to think that I've ended up like this considering how I started out studying design - but to be fair, that was 7 years ago, and things change.

The August 2017 Overhaul

I was never entirely satisfied with the navigation of the old design, and as it happened, I found myself with a nearly finished project that got canned in August 2017 that I could re-use for the site. It wasn't a complete fit, but as I went through the pages, I realized that the structure was exactly what I'd been looking for and just hadn't thought about in this context.

I stripped out everything unnecessary, kept the structure and styling of the other project, and the data of the original site. 

It was my luck really, because I'd been staring myself blind at the original site - oblivious to anything but the flaws it had.

As it is now, navigation is vastly improved and the only thing that needs tinkering with is small design details. Well, what do you know. All is good for something after all.

© Katrine-Marie Burmeister, December 2018