El Cortez Heights Redesign

This week simpledream web studio launched another standards-based web project: El Cortez Heights Neighborhood Association website. The group, ECHNA for short, is located in Tucson, Arizona. If you can’t wait to see it, then just visit site! If you want to know the why and how of the redesign, keep reading.

Why redesign?

To allow for greater control over the background technology and to streamline content production for the community-based website. The website had outgrown the previous setup and was ready to for change.

How was this accomplished?

By making a few big changes to the hosting, file management, and domain name as well as several smaller, much-needed changes to the visual design.

Here are the big changes:

  • Move to new host, Dreamhost. ECHNA was very tired of the Geocities ads that cluttered up the sidebar and the source code.
  • New domain name now: elcortezheights.org. Easier to remember and tell people.
  • The move to WordPress for site management allows a lot more control over the production and behind-the-scenes programming now. This is a huge improvement for site maintenance, stat monitoring, error pages, etc.

Now for some small changes:

  • Some basic improvements to the site were made, including ease of use and navigation. We tried to leave the look and feel the same, but update the design to be more professional and engaging. Still very simple and easy to use, though, and not complicated for someone to get around and find interesting and useful content.
  • Graphic elements were polished and updated.

You can view the old site (which is still up) for comparison. Also, compare it with a view of the original design from 2002. Needless to say, ECHNA has come a long way.

Move to WordPress 1.5

Just upgraded the simpledream.net/blog install to WordPress 1.5 —> it’s very worth it!

First of all, you can have pages now that are controlled through the main template. Very powerful, could be a solution to the Ward III Neighbors problem of using “entries” as sub-category pages. Instead of various templates to load and change when updating, you can control the look, links, and feel of all your “pages” as if they were posts.

One cool new feature is the Themes section, which allows you to skin one or more pages on your blog, more control over . A new Dashboard was added as the default landing page to your blog admin, so that you can see latest stats on your site and posts from the WordPress Dev blog. It is a bit cluttered visually, though, so it might have to be cleaned up a bit.

The mod_rewrite and comment spam features are very much improved too.