What to do with all of this space?

Posted on July 23, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized |

To quote the Zude Users Guide, “As a Zuder, you have the ability to create unlimited web pages, so there is no need to try and do it all on a single unruly page.” Ah, hang on a tick, did they say “…unlimited…“? Really? Well, now I’m just going to have to decide what exactly I am going to put on all of these unlimited pages of my new Zudescape!

I’ve been doing the rounds of the pages of other Zuders and getting some really great ideas. There are some very creative people in Zudeland. One of the common themes that seems to run through all of the pages that I have seen so far is of individuality and personality. Every page, every Zudescape is different. Using the tools that Zude gives us to develop our Zudescapes with, they allow for unlimited creativity and Zuders can express their own style and personality easily using those tools.

So, that leaves me with the difficult decisions. How do I express my personality, my style, through the pages of my new Zudescape? First, I have to define what exactly it is that I want my Zudescape to be. This is going to be my presence on the Internet. When somebody looks up “Jed Kantos” in Google, this is what I want them to find first. Now, sure, there are techniques that I can use to manipulate the search results, that’s the easy part. The hard part is to define what exactly it is that people will find when they get here? Why would somebody look me up anyway? What would they be expecting to find? My Zudescape is going to become a “one stop shop” for anything and everything to do with Jed Kantos. Whatever it is you want to know about Jed Kantos, you will find it here.

Turning on Microsoft Word’s outlining feature, I start by typing out a list of headings and subheadings that I think are appropriate, including: About me, How to contact me, My interests, My friends, My family, My CV, and Where I live. I’ll add to and change the list later, but that’s a rough guide. Next I created a new simple website using Microsoft FrontPage. This is only a tool that I am using to help me to visualize the layout and navigation of the pages of my Zudescape, and the resulting files will not be used in the final design. I create pages in FrontPage and link them together in the Navigation View to form a rough layout for my Zudescape pages.

One of the targets of my Zudescape is to make the “Pages” button on the Zude toolbar redundant. I want people who visit my Zudescape to be able to navigate smoothly to every page within it, without having to resort to the “Pages” button. This is one thing that I have seen done with varying degrees of success on the pages of other Zuders, with Uber Zude’s arrows being one of the better navigation solutions that I have seen so far. I think that the most cliched look on Zude for navigation is the built-in rectangular gray buttons being used as a button bar. They seem to be everywhere! I want to have a navigation panel on the left of all my pages, which uses a JavaScript-based cascading tree menu to give access to every page in my Zudescape. There will also be a row of buttons along the top of each page to provide quick access to common tasks, such as for signing my guestbook. But, believe me, those buttons won’t be the rectangular gray type!

Okay, now I have a bunch of titles that I want to use for my pages, so let’s collect them all together and put them into Zude! Not being a particularly good web designer, and an even worse programmer, the JavaScript tree menu will have to wait for a while, as I need to figure out how it works first. I already have a template stored that will give me the background that I designed earlier. The first page that I add to my Zudescape is the “Welcome” page, which is the page that the “Enter My Zudescape” button will eventually link to. This is the first true page of my new Zudescape, while the “Enter Page” that I made earlier is really a separate entity entirely. The Welcome page is the first page that will have the familiar look and feel that I want to spread across my whole Zudescape.

Next I carve up the page into distinct areas, with the main content space in the middle, between two narrower blocks, one on either side. These will be used for the JavaScript tree menu navigation area on the left, and for my blog and other links on the right. Across the top of the page is a banner displaying the page title, the common logo, and above all the quick link button bar. To finish, I add a clearly defined bottom of my page, which is an idea that I got from another Zuder, Raven J. Wolfe, who uses a text object with the words “End Of Page” at the bottom of all her pages. I found this very helpful when viewing her Zudescape. I have used this idea with a twist, adding a copyright notice to the bottom of all of my pages. Zude is about freedom, and shared content, focusing heavily on the drag-and-drop functionality. Towards that end I have licensed all of the content that I create on my Zudescape under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 Australia License, allowing people to share and make derivative works for non-commercial use as long as I am attributed as the source. At the bottom right of all my new Zudescape pages I will display the License image and a brief copyright statement. The bottom left corner of each page will have a hit counter, using a Flash widget that I found on The Jack’s Zudescape.

This completes the setting of the boundaries for my pages. Now I start filling in some of the areas with my common content that will appear on every page. My “Jed Kantos on Zude” logo goes on first, up beside the page banner. Then I added my blog, the one that you are reading now, to the right hand side panel. I added this as a SpringWidgets widget, as it was the most configurable option available. I needed something that I could stretch to fill a long column, 250 pixels wide by 1,283 pixels long! The best that I could do was 999 pixels in length, but that was better than what competing products were offering. Sure, I could have used the built-in object from Zude for my blog and madde it as long as I like, but I was put off by the fixed white background color, and the fact that it only seems to display the headlines, not the content, of the entries. The quick-link button bar at the top of the page will come later, as I can’t realistically create the buttons without having the rest of the pages already existing in order to link to them properly. And, of course, my tree menu still looks like a semitransparent text object too. Satisfied with the page layout so far, and the common content objects on it, I exported it out as a template, using Zude’s *.zpg format. This feature alone is a huge timesaver and has already gotten me out of a situation with lost content. I can’t stress enough how important it is to make a backup when developing a new Zudescape.

The next step is to create the quick-link button bar. As I mentioned, I can’t do this without having destination pages to link the buttons to, so I now mass-produced a whole heap of pages, as per my navigation structure from FrontPage. However, I am not importing my standard background onto these pages just yet, nor my new template that I just created above. Instead I left the page with a blank white background and added some images to show that the page is still under construction. This simple layout was then exported as a template, and imported into all of the new pages I am creating. In one sitting I made thirty new pages for my new Zudescape! They are all now ready, with their individual Page ID numbers, to be linked into the navigation system of my new Zudescape, including both the JavaScript tree menu and the quick-link button bar. More on those objects to come in the next posting.

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