Eastudies.org 2.0 - Behind the scenes
This artcile is a about the development of Eastudies.org 2.0, the changes in design and programming languages used. If you want to learn more about the initiative or the team, check the respective sites.
Eastudies.org was created in 2004 and by 2007 the site is accessed from 54 nations with over 250.000 visitors so far. If you keep in mind that the site has a fairly small group of potential visitors (we don't have "harrypotter_volume7.pdf" online, we're not offering Spider Man 3 trailers, you get the idea...): Asian Exchange students in Germany and now in Version 2 Western Exchange students in Asia. So a quarter million is a lot.
Updating the Eastudies.org look
All these visitors now know the look of Eastudies.org and we decided that we would not change the appearance but carefully update it. Let's have a look at what changed in Eastudies.org 2.0:
Obviously the site is streamlined, the overall look and feel the same. What many won't realize: The site has been fully — 100% — recoded. Let's have a look what we did.
The site is rewritten in dynamic HTML with all layout defined in external stylesheets (CSS). That does not only greatly improve loading times but led to two more major improvements: 1.) Specific stylesheets for clean printing — Try it! and 2.) A niftly styleswitcher let's you change from the classic white look to a new black design scheme.
Our News and Updates section heavily relies on Wordpress, which runs PHP 4.2 and MySQL 4.0. This way our editors can post updates from virtually everywhere and without writing code.
We really wanted to include sIFR, a method for including dynamic rich typography into Eastudies, and it look fantastic for the headlines. Unfortunately the method didn't fully work with Asian text, so we finally axed it.
Our authoring system is based on wordpress (MySQL databases and PHP.) The code is fully validated and accessible (so it can be used by people with disabilities).
We optimized eastudies.org for modern browsers and we recommend that you use Firefox 2 or Internet Explorer 7 to access the site.
PS: If you're interested, just have a look at the code — but please don't steal our work.
-Arne, 24 May 2007