First, let me tell you how wonderful my husband, The Gryphon, is. That should be clear to everyone who reads this online journal, but it bears repeating. He's volunteered to redesign my online literary quarterly, Wild Violet. This is something I've wanted to do for several years.
In 2004, my original cofounder and web designer left me, so I restructured the site, eliminating the flash graphics (since I had no flash programming skills) and using roll-over buttons instead. I also streamlined the navigation and design schemes. But I was admittedly limited by my methods: designing pages in Dreamweaver through the use of tables and basic HTML code.
Here's the current home page:
And yes, if you haven't already guessed, I do have a fondness for violet. It's simple but readable. I tried to make up for the bare-bones nature of it through use of color and graphics.
However, over the past couple of years I've been wanting to add more interactivity to the site. My wish list includes, but is not limited to: an arts blog, comment capability, a bulletin board, a links page, and writer's/artist's resources.
This weekend, The Gryphon suggested investigating publishing platforms and finding something that might allow us to create a more sophisticated page. As you might know, he's job searching right now, so he has a little extra time to devote to this project. After doing some online research, including reading user reviews, he downloaded WordPress, which is often used for blogs but also, more and more, for magazines.
Next, he searched for some themes which might be usable for a literary magazine, and we plugged sample text into several that he downloaded. Our favorite so far was created by Michael Oeser, a theme he calls Branford Magazine (at least a few of these theme designers appear to be jazz fans).
Right now, we're talking about how to organize the site, as well as what to do about earlier archives. Then, when we know what we need, we'll work on tweaking the look and designing new graphics.
For inspiration, I've begun searching for other literary magazines, to see if I can find any that use a similar format. So far I've discovered a few, including 52nd City, Appalachian Heritage, Barrelhouse, Boston Review, and Caketrain, all of which offer something unique in their design which I find interesting.
I'm open to ideas and would love to hear from anyone who has thoughts about either content or design features that will help us expand Wild Violet from an online quarterly to an online community of writers, artists and those who appreciate the arts. You can contact me via e-mail or by commenting.
There are benefits to The Gryphon having more time on his hands.