design

Monopoly Game Board Design (Illustrator/Vector Artwork)

While I was attending Kenrick-Glennon Seminary, a few brother seminarians and I had a long run of Monopoly tournaments, and we became quite adept at the game. Of course, my winning strategy was to always give up any and all properties to get Boardwalk and Park Place, buy a hotel, and hope someone hit the hotel before I went bankrupt...

I created this vector file (below) in Illustrator after many hours of path-tracing original Monopoly board art, my own hand-drawn designs, and some clipart. I was intending to print it on some cardstock and mold some actual pieces (like a biretta, a Liturgy of the Hours book, a pipe organ, etc.) to play the game, but never got around to that part before leaving.

(Click image to view larger).
Seminopoly

Decline in Church Architecture and Art

These images speak for themselves, but I will offer a few asides to help explain why I was saddened after visiting the Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago a few months ago.

Tabernacle - Holy Name Cathedral, Chicago
What... the... I think they might reserve the Body of Christ somewhere in that mess.

Rose Window - Holy Name Cathedral, Chicago
To think that, before the fire, there was probably very beautiful, meaningful and symbolic imagery in that stained glass. Now it's an abstract, and dare I say, boring sight. My eyes grew tired trying to see what was up there.

Archdiocese of Saint Louis Redesigns Website

Archdiocese of Saint Louis' Upgraded Website

The Archdiocese of Saint Louis today upgraded its entire website to a new design and a new platform, allowing offices and agencies to more quickly and more easily communicate with the faithful in the Archdiocese (and around the world!).

I've been working on this project (with a lot of help from Palantir, a web development company in Chicago) and some local developers for the past year, and I am pleased with the result (I hope you are, too!). I've written up more information about the technical aspects of the site on Open Source Catholic (read more about the Archdiocese of Saint Louis' Upgraded Website), and I will continue writing some posts about specific details on the Open Source Catholic website.

Some of the highlights of the redesign:

Building a Theme for Drupal 7

After having built out many themes for Drupal 6 (and a couple for Drupal 5), I'm going to start from scratch on a couple designs and build a theme in Drupal 7, which will be released sometime in 2010. I'll take you along my journey in this article.

Please note, this article is a work in progress, and I'll be updating it as I go. Hopefully, within a couple weeks, I'll have the article complete, and a nice new theme to release on Drupal.org (maybe), only for Drupal 7.

To get things kicked off, here are a few articles that have good background information on Drupal 7 theming:

Designing a Good Website

This article will help you to learn some fundamental principles in web design and to design your own nice-looking, functional website

Over the past eight years (ever since I've owned a Macintosh), I've designed many different websites. I've dabbled in different web programming languages and done many, many technical tasks (some of which I don't remember how to do). But does this make me a good web designer? Not necessarily. I've learned through experience and research only so much about web design. It's more of an art than a science really; but it takes a lot more than an artist's mind to design a functional and eye-catching website.

Adding Module Stylesheets using drupal_add_css()

A couple days ago, when building a quick site with limited functionality (basically a pretty front end to a database website), I ran into a hiccup with my custom module/theme for the site, which caused me to scratch my head for a few minutes.

In my custom module (called 'idcards'), I added a stylesheet for a couple forms on the site using the drupal_add_css() function:

/**
 * Implementation of drupal_add_css()
 */
drupal_add_css(drupal_get_path('module', 'idcards') .'/idcards.css');

Later on in the development, I added a custom theme (based off a Zen subtheme I use for many smaller sites), and in that custom theme's .info file, I added a stylesheet named idcards.css.

When I cleared all the caches, I noticed the custom form styling (added by the module's idcards.css file) was missing, and on further investigation, I found that the module's idcards.css file was not being added to the pages!

Full Site Buildout: Part 2 - Theme Development

Part 2 of a series: Building out a full Drupal site in a weekend.

Well, one plane flight down, and a conference to go, I have the main structure of the theme set up (locally; haven't pushed it out to opensourcecatholic.com yet). I decided to go with Zen 2.x's -dev releases, for the simple fact that it's new and the way the Zen project is moving. There are a few rough areas in the documentation, mostly in the 'Readme' file for installing a subtheme, but I got through everything okay.

This theme, I hope, will make its way onto the fine Drupal.org theme repository; getting a CVS account, I'm sure, will be fun ;-)

Designing for the 80%

Recently, an article on Accessibility appeared on Planet Drupal which caught my eye, so I clicked on it. When I was taken to the article page on d7ux.org, the banner across the top of the page caught my eye (as it was intended to do!):

Our UX Principles:

  1. Make the most frequent tasks easy and less frequent tasks achievable.
  2. Design for the 80%.
  3. Privilege the content creator.
  4. Make the default settings smart.

I think those four principles, especially numbers one and two, should be the driving force behind any web or product design.

Case Study: Saint Louis Review News Website

In what will be the first of, I hope, many case studies, I review the process of redesigning the Saint Louis Review website, from the ground up.

The Saint Louis Review is a local Catholic diocesan newspaper serving the nearly 500,000 member Archdiocese of Saint Louis. The newspaper has had a website since the late 90s, which was ported to a custom-designed CMS in 2001. The PHP/MySQL-based site ran quite well throughout the first decade of this millennium, but was in need of either a serious overhaul or a redesign, to go along with the paper's new tabloid layout in April 2009.

Old and New Saint Louis Review Websites

The decision was made in 2007 to port the website to Joomla, but after a few months, a new editor, and more work, it was determined that, due to its extensibility, flexible out-of-the-box permissions, and standards/SEO-compliant codebase, Drupal would be a better fit for the site. Work was begun in January of 2009 to transfer the custom CMS' articles database (over 17,000 articles) to a Drupal site, create a new template based off the colors and design of the new tabloid-format paper, and integrate an easier-to-manage ad system and back-end.