Mar 07 2012
Just in time for the full moon — a new website for the Poetry Chaikhana!
Take a look, explore, tell me what you think:
The Look and Feel
I’ve been busily working on this redesign for several months.
First, I had to settle on a new look. I’ve always considered the Poetry Chaikhana website to be sacred space on the Internet, and I wanted the look and feel to reflect that.
I’ve tried to maintain a simple, spacious design. Visiting the Poetry Chaikhana pages should be a serene experience. I want you to instinctively take an easy, full breath when your browser finds its way to the Poetry Chaikhana. Sacred poetry is best savored when we discover those timeless moments.
After testing a few dozen predesigned website themes, I finally found one I thought came close to what I wanted. That’s when I started digging under the hood, so to speak, changing and adapting the code, to get the look and feel I wanted. Nothing too showy, but there are some subtle touches that I think you’ll appreciate.
The Nuts and Bolts
The unique challenges of creating a website for the Poetry Chaikhana are that–
a) I have LOTS of material — hundreds of poets, thousands of poems, notes on important sacred poetry themes, timelines…
b) I need to be able to maintain and regularly update this extensive site in my limited free time
c) I need to use web technology that I personally understand and have the software tools to maintain, since I can’t yet afford to hire someone
The solution I came up with years ago when I started the Poetry Chaikhana site was to use my skill as a database developer to build a rich, customized database. That gave me an excellent interrelated filing system for everything. And then I got a little fancy and figured out how to generate the website’s HTML code directly from the database itself. The result was a customized system that allowed me to easily add new material and regularly post a new copy of the site on the Web — and all the new pages were automatically integrated. (This is different from the more common approach of using a live database back end. Too much technical gobbledy-gook to explain why I didn’t use that approach.)
But a major redesign also meant a major database redesign. So I let the old design limp along for a bit too long. I won’t bore you with the geeky details of how I made the changes for the new site, but the Poetry Chaikhana database files have been extensively reworked so I can now generate and update the site with ease. And, future design changes should require considerably less front end work.
With a major update like this, I expect there to be glitches to fix and details to be tweaked. I’ve already got a small list started of things to do. Please let me know if you find any problems or come across anything that seems confusing. I want the site to be inviting.
Most of all, I really hope you’ll think of the Poetry Chaikhana as a great place to discover new poets and, if we’re lucky, a few Aha! moments. So, please, have fun exploring!
…Now, I can turn my full attention to readying the first of the upcoming books for publication. Keep checking back. It will be ready soon!
Sending a warm smile (and a satisfied sigh of relief),