Open Doors Student Site
3 comments | Posted: 18 May 07 in Featured, by Nathan Smith
The student site of Open Doors UK was designed and coded by Jon Hicks and is powered by Textpattern. I like how this site’s design feels distressed, yet is still neatly aligned on a grid. The bold colors help to set apart this youth oriented site from that of its parent, opendoorsuk.org. I also like the use of texture. It’s just enough to be appealing, without appearing overdone or contrived.
It’s that fine line of design (hey, that rhymes) which I find difficult to balance. I tend to shy away from wicked worn in favor of the lightweight safety of cleaner, corporate-safe design. This is why I have respect for those who can painstakingly craft and perfect a more organic look and feel. When it’s done wrong, information and graphics tend to be in tension, but done rightly they coexist well. Jon has done a good job of harmonizing.
He has also broken the mold with a slightly slanted take on site navigation. The main sections of the menu are tilted by about 5° and line up with the lead photos, while the menu sub-sections are set horizontally level.
I like that the Upcoming Events page is marked up according to the hCalendar microformat, enabling users to add any or all events to Google Calendar, iCal or Sunbird directly from their browser. This is made possible by Technorati, which provides a parser that converts hCalendar into iCalendar format, that has become the de-facto standard for event sharing and coordination.
Overall, this is an exemplary site. The design is edgy – appropriate for the target audience. The XHTML is well structured, making use of the latest advancements in code conventions to provide richer semantics and data portability. This is what happens when designers care about information and not just aesthetics – the user gets the best of both worlds. Bravo, Mr. Hicks.
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