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Website Redesign in the Works for 20th Anniversary

Architecture in Fort Worth

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#1 John T Roberts

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Posted 17 January 2017 - 08:42 PM

I just wanted to let everyone know that a redesign of the website is finally in the works.  A friend of mine, Tim Young has volunteered to help me out and we are going to redesign the look of the site, plus make it much more user friendly.  Also in the plans are to make it easier to search buildings, articles, and for photographs.  Tim and his wife Donna are members of Historic Fort Worth, Inc. and they lead the Downtown Fort Worth Walking Tours.  Tim is a real estate broker.  We probably won't get the site changed by the anniversary date of April 17th, but it will be something that we will be working on throughout the year.



#2 beverlyb

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Posted 17 January 2017 - 09:15 PM

Donna and I are on the Fort Worth Downtown Neighborhood Alliance board. Donna and Tim are very cool people. Small World!



#3 John T Roberts

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Posted 17 January 2017 - 10:32 PM

Yes, it is a small world.  Most of the people that I know, also know someone else that I know through different associations.



#4 John T Roberts

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Posted 19 January 2017 - 04:59 PM

I'm surprised no one has commented about the site design.  I guess I will now reveal a little more information.  First of all, I wanted to say that we are not going to outright copy anther website, but Tim and I like the look and feel of the Chicago Architecture Foundation's website, and we may use that as a model.  Their building pages are graphically nice and have some great features.  Here is a link to their section on the Buildings of Chicago.



#5 JBB

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Posted 19 January 2017 - 09:25 PM

I browsed through several parts of the site earlier this month and I really think it is still nice looking and easy to use even if it has been several years since the latest redesign.  I'm excited to see what you come up with.  As the example site you posted shows, technology and style have made great strides.



#6 John T Roberts

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Posted 19 January 2017 - 10:17 PM

We are still working on the prototype.  So, I don't know how long it will be before we can debut part of the site.  You are right in that technology and style have made great strides.  This example is not too different from the style that I had developed a couple of years ago.



#7 johnfwd

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Posted 25 January 2017 - 07:08 AM

Playing the devil's advocate here, I guess:  What's wrong the current design?  Alas, the old saying, "If it ain't broke...."  Or is this just wanting to have a fresh new look?



#8 John T Roberts

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Posted 25 January 2017 - 08:52 AM

There's nothing really wrong with the old site.  However, the Jack White Collection is impossible to search.  The search features within the site as a whole are not too user friendly.  I had been toying around with this for about two years, and when someone offered to help, I jumped at the opportunity.  Here are the reasons why we are doing this:

 

1.  To improve functionality and searching.

2.  To provide interactive maps on the site.

3.  To have a whole new look.

4.   I wanted to do something special for the 20th Anniversary of the site.



#9 JBB

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Posted 25 January 2017 - 09:18 AM

I know this has been discussed, but I can't remember what came of it: Is part of the redesign going to include converting the Jack White collection from jpegs to something that can be searched?  That would obviously be a huge undertaking.



#10 John T Roberts

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Posted 25 January 2017 - 09:48 AM

JBB, that is actually the entire reason for doing this.  I had received several complaints over the last few years about the Jack White Collection, and recently Austin55 asked about the church that sat just to the southwest of Burnett Park.  I knew Jack had done a page that told what church that was, but I couldn't remember the name.  I looked and looked for it, and I uploaded the image to the site, but I couldn't find it.  The first part of the site that is converted will be the Jack White Collection.  I will have more to say later, and you can always come to the Forum Meeting to get more information.



#11 gdvanc

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Posted 25 January 2017 - 10:59 AM

I look forward to seeing what you come up with. Change is fun.



#12 John T Roberts

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Posted 25 January 2017 - 11:57 AM

Again if you want to take a look at the general appearance of how the site will eventually look, you can view the Buildings of Chicago.

This site is done by the Chicago Architecture Foundation.



#13 John T Roberts

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Posted 26 January 2017 - 06:45 AM

The Jack White Collection will be the first part of the site that will be transformed.  It won't go "live" until we get that section complete.  Then, Downtown will be next.  I'm pretty sure that we won't unveil that section until it is completely finished, or all of the building descriptions are revised.



#14 Now in Denton

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Posted 27 January 2017 - 09:22 AM

There's nothing really wrong with the old site.  However, the Jack White Collection is impossible to search.  The search features within the site as a whole are not too user friendly.  I had been toying around with this for about two years, and when someone offered to help, I jumped at the opportunity.  Here are the reasons why we are doing this:

 

1.  To improve functionality and searching.

2.  To provide interactive maps on the site.

3.  To have a whole new look.

4.   I wanted to do something special for the 20th Anniversary of the site.

 

I think the Dallas Urban forum also did a redo. I liked the old Dallas Forum better just saying. If you want to do something special for the 20th anniversary. How about a party at your house Mr. Roberts ? :laugh:  (Just kidding)



#15 John T Roberts

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Posted 27 January 2017 - 10:05 AM

Yes, the Dallas Urban Forum did a redesign of their site to not only update the look, but to provide better functionality.  I did give a sample site out to everyone, so you could see and explore a site that will have similar content and layout.  That link is in previous posts within this thread.  I would encourage everyone to take a look, and also provide their feedback here.  It won't be long before we will start transferring the photos and text from the Jack White Collection over to the new design.



#16 John T Roberts

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Posted 04 February 2017 - 09:12 AM

The website redo is coming along nicely and it looks great.  How would you all feel if fortwortharchitecture.com changed URL addresses?  I hate to lose the identity, but since I'm getting someone to help manage the site and expand it, it might be worth the trade-off.  Also, each building page will come with building statistics, related pages, and a map.



#17 John T Roberts

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Posted 06 February 2017 - 10:33 PM

Tim Young has let the cat out of the bag over on Facebook.  I figure, if he posts it, I can, too.  Here is a link to what Architecture in Fort Worth will be becoming.  Please provide as much feedback as you wish.

 

http://www.ourfw.com



#18 Austin55

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Posted 06 February 2017 - 10:51 PM

This looks lovely! 



#19 John T Roberts

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Posted 06 February 2017 - 10:55 PM

Thanks.  I'm looking forward to more comments.



#20 PeopleAreStrange

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Posted 07 February 2017 - 01:10 AM

A couple of questions for now:

 

Will this forum be moved to the new website?

 

How can I access the Jack White collection on the new site? I can't find it.

 

Overall, the home page looks nice, but I'm a little bothered that I cant read all of the text in front of the brick walls until they are entirely within the top half of my browser screen.

 

I'll explore more of the site later.


- Dylan


#21 John T Roberts

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Posted 07 February 2017 - 06:32 AM

With the exception of a few pages, what is on the site are listings and text in the history section from the Jack White Collection.  The architecture text is from my site.  This site will remain up and functioning until everything is moved over.  We have been planning to move the forum over, as it cannot be updated due to my host's issues.  If that doesn't work, the forum will remain in its current state.  I haven't had any trouble with the text over the brick photograph.



#22 gdvanc

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Posted 07 February 2017 - 01:35 PM

Overall I like it quite a lot. WordPress is a great choice for this kind of web site.

 

I think what PeopleAreStrange is talking about is the parallax scrolling effect on the main page. (It's called 'parallax scrolling' as it was developed for left-and-right scrolling games to allow 'foreground' objects to scroll at a faster rate than 'background' objects, giving the illusion of depth.) On the main page, you can see this if you scroll down past the 'Most Popular Places' panel, you'll see a break in the white foreground panel revealing the brick wall background and the 'Quick and Easy Search' section begins to appear. You have to scroll until this section is at the top of the page before you can see all of it.

 

This is a technique that some web designers love because it looks cool but some users find annoying. People can get pretty religious about it. In your case, I think it's coming from Elated's Search and Go theme your site is using on WordPress.

 

 

One thing I noticed is the blue markers on the images under 'Most Popular Places' aren't intuitive. They appear to be meant to allow you to find related items; for instance, for the W T Waggoner building there are four: one searches for other Downtown buildings, one other Featured buildings, one other NRHP buildings and one other Sanguinet and Staats building. That's a really cool feature, but there isn't anything to indicate to an everyday user that the buttons do that. There really isn't anything to indicate that they have a separate function at all until you click on them. Further, when you arrive at the target page after clicking, you view a list of related buildings but it isn't clear how they're related. For example, the fourth button is a link to a search for Sanguinet and Staats buildings. When I hover over it, the only thing that indicates that it's going to a list S & S buildings is that my browser shows the link destination in the lower left corner - something a casual user might not notice. No other cue at all. When I click it, I go to a listing of 7 buildings - but apart from the URL field on my browser, there is nothing to tell me that I'm looking at a list of S & S buildings. (I've only tried it in Chrome.)

 

 

Anyway, these are only quibbles. As I said, I do like the site a lot. I look forward to watching its continued development. Great job!



#23 John T Roberts

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Posted 07 February 2017 - 10:50 PM

Donnie, I think over time, some of these issues will be corrected.  Thanks for the input.



#24 PeopleAreStrange

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Posted 09 February 2017 - 12:07 AM

Upon further exploration of the site, I'm a big fan of how you can see thumbnails of pictures before clicking on a link to see the picture.

 

Are you still in the process of transferring pictures? There are some Jack White / "The Way We Were" pictures I can't find on the new site.

 

With the exception of a few pages, what is on the site are listings and text in the history section from the Jack White Collection.  The architecture text is from my site.  This site will remain up and functioning until everything is moved over.  We have been planning to move the forum over, as it cannot be updated due to my host's issues.  If that doesn't work, the forum will remain in its current state.  I haven't had any trouble with the text over the brick photograph.

 

A suggestion: whenever you move this forum to the new server, please do not update the forum software. The Houston Forum used to be almost identical to this forum, but then they "updated" (read: downgraded) the software and made it less user-friendly. My issues with the new Houston forum:

 

- No more "View New Content" bar. It takes more clicks to access a similar "custom activity stream."

- There are no longer post numbers at the top right corner of posts.

- Avatars are annoying circles instead of squares.

 

I'm happier with the current forum software than Houston's new forum software.


- Dylan


#25 John T Roberts

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Posted 09 February 2017 - 08:42 AM

Dylan, thanks for the comments on the forum issues.  I visit the Houston forum from time to time, and I was starting to notice the same things, and I was wondering if we should update the software.  There are other issues with transferring the forum and it was decided it would be the last thing tackled.

 

As for the Jack White Collection, not near all of the photographs and information has been transferred.  The site is really not ready for public consumption, and I did not let everyone know the location until Tim Young posted it.  I don't have a problem with him doing that,  but there is still a lot of work to do on the new site.



#26 John T Roberts

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Posted 20 April 2017 - 09:50 PM

I forgot to remind everyone, but this last Monday, the website celebrated it's 20th anniversary.  I started it on April 17, 1997.



#27 tamtagon

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Posted 22 April 2017 - 05:32 AM

I forgot to remind everyone, but this last Monday, the website celebrated it's 20th anniversary.  I started it on April 17, 1997.

 

Happy Anniversary, congratulations and thanks!



#28 John T Roberts

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Posted 22 April 2017 - 07:47 AM

Tamtagon, you are welcome.  It has been a pleasure to run and to let everyone know about Fort Worth.



#29 Now in Denton

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Posted 22 April 2017 - 07:50 AM

I forgot to remind everyone, but this last Monday, the website celebrated it's 20th anniversary.  I started it on April 17, 1997.

 

Thank you for all your hard work you do Mr. Roberts. I know it is not easy at times. Your hard work does not go unnoticed by me. Same goes for "Architecture in Fort Worth" I enjoy rereading the information. And notice how you keep it updated. Thanks again ! :rolleyes:



#30 John T Roberts

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Posted 22 April 2017 - 11:18 AM

Thanks, Now in Denton!  It is hard to keep things updated and since we are trying to develop the new website, that is taking up some time.  The new website is sort of taking a new direction, and now I'm not so sure that it will ever replace this one.  If that doesn't happen, then at some point, I will have to update it.  I guess I should just take the attitude, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it".  Maybe, redoing this website won't happen until I retire.  At 59 years old, you see I have a few more years that I need to be working.



#31 JBB

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Posted 22 April 2017 - 11:25 AM

Congratulations on the anniversary of the site! I still remember stumbling across it sometime in 1999.

#32 John T Roberts

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Posted 22 April 2017 - 11:32 AM

JBB, you were almost here since the beginning!  20 years is a long time to be doing anything, but I certainly have enjoyed it.



#33 JBB

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Posted 23 April 2017 - 03:14 PM

I got here as quick as I could!  I think that was the first time I had dial-up internet access that wasn't AOL.



#34 Austin55

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Posted 15 June 2017 - 10:31 AM

How are thing progressing?



#35 John T Roberts

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Posted 15 June 2017 - 10:35 AM

Believe it or not, very slow.  Now, I'm not sure if this should be the final solution for this site.  I will just have to wait to see.



#36 gdvanc

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Posted 06 July 2017 - 09:38 AM

A belated Happy Anniversary, John! I haven't been around lately as much as I'd like, but I can't tell you how much I appreciate the work you put into recording Fort Worth's architecture as well as giving us all a forum to discuss it.



#37 John T Roberts

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Posted 06 July 2017 - 10:34 AM

Donnie, thank you!






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