Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Open source experiment: Ignite Baltimore home page

It's time to update and refresh the Ignite Baltimore website. As Ignite is a not-for-profit labor of love, we've tried a few different approaches over the years to having a website that looks nice and can be easily maintained (e.g. we need quality work but don't have the funds to pay for it, so we try to barter).

I've concluded that the best way to do this, something I would recommend to anyone else running a project like this, is to make a super simple site with a few pages, with a design I can execute myself, and then link to external sites when we need specialty content. In Ignite's case, we'll be using EventBrite, Flickr, and YouTube to host all of our dynamic material. This means the site itself can focus on being a resource for things that don't change as much, like "About" and "Contact Us" and "Speaker Guidelines".

The current prototype is here: http://ignitebaltimore.github.com

I'm developing the new site out in the open on GitHub. This means anyone can contribute to the new site. If you have an improvement, please fork the project, make your changes, then send me a pull request. The repository is here: https://github.com/ignitebaltimore/ignitebaltimore.github.com.

A note on self-reliance: I know this site doesn't look as beautiful as it could, or as it should (given the high-touch feel of the event), but I also have decided that I'm not going to let my lack of design talent stop me from building nice things. On pretty much every software project I've worked on, I've felt hamstrung by a lack of design help. I mentioned this to Gabe Weinberg who advised me to treat design like just another facet of programming to hack around, over, and through. I've decided to take him on that and focus on making things that look "good enough", and that's what I've done here.

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