Thesis: home sick, sitemap time

OOTO today with the flu, so I’m using the time to organize my thoughts and some of the initial research I’ve done for my capstone project. I’ve got a good bit of historical data and sociological commentary, and the content is beginning to form a cohesive shape.

I like working with the content first and then seeing how it’s going to affect the rest of the site design. While I’ve been slowly working on it and fretting all the while that I’m behind on my sleek schedule, I think that taking some extra time with the content has been well worth it.

Loose organization

The site will most likely see a title change based on domain availability. Not having a credit card or bank account right now  (prior to the Wall Street crisis, not in reaction to it) means that I can’t just go and reserve the domain yet, so I haven’t researched that yet. Ideas include ‘MountRushmoreRevisited.com’ (.net, .org), “MountRushmoreRetold.com”, “MountRushmoreReconsidered.com”.  Stuff along those lines. Since I’m going to begin coding everything by the 12th of October, I’ll be making the investments and straightening out domain name hosting at the very least after the next paycheck.

The content suggest certain sections of the website.

  • Flash Timeline: This will contain the historical timeline of the development of Mount Rushmore, starting from the 1846 Fort Laramie Treaty and moving up through present times
  • “In Their Own Words”: Probably a Flash panel for the home page, this will be a closeup of Mount Rushmore with mouseover sound files and graphics treatment. Mouseover one of the heads on the monument and voice over will read the words that appear, giving a very racist quote against Native Americans which was actually said historically by each of those figures. I’m aiming for a bit of the ‘historical shock value’ with this, and hope that the juxtaposition of the patriotism of the figure and the sheer level of historical racism will entice the viewer to explore the site more.
  • Who’s Who: There are a lot of players on the stage for Mount Rushmore and the Paha Sapa (Black Hills) saga of American History, from General Custer to Gutzon Borglum. This will be a Flash panel which will display brief biographical chunks for selected portraits of key players.
  • Red – The Native Americans and the Paha Sapa: This is an HTML section of chunked and hyperlinked articles with facts and history surrounding the Native American/First Nations claims and activities in the region.
  • White – Manifest Destiny, Gutzon Borglum and the KKK: Also HTML/CSS section with articles about the interconnection between the philosophy of Manifest Destiny, the KKK connection with Gutzon Borglum, and the role of racism in the purposeful creation of a monument intended to generate a national identity
  • Blue – Old Grief, New Hope, and the Skies Ahead: HTML/CSS articles which will look at recent developments surrounding the Mt Rushmore monument. The Crazy Horse monument will be covered, as well as quotes from the US Supreme Court Justice Black when he summed up the latest attempt of the US govt to settle the land/treaty disputes still outstanding with the Sioux. Also it will cover the new steward of the Mt Rushmore site who is himself Native American, and it will also investigate the progress that is being made to finally update and include mention of the shadier side of Rushmore’s reputation within the park’s official materials, films, and publications.
  • Bibliography & Links : Self explanatory.

Color palette will most likely be US Flag colors: crimson, white and pale gray, deep midnight/navy mix. Black used as text color or for accents.

Next steps

Now it’s time for some storyboarding to think through the functionality of the site. I left myself the bulk of the time for the actual coding and debugging because I know that’s going to be the big one.  Before I get there I should probably do up formal wireframes and sitemap. Yeah, good idea. Well, that’s going to suck a bit, but it helps in the long run and it’s better to have too much documentation than not enough.

At the same time, I should populate the wireframes with whatever copy I have. It’s time to generate the copy content formally as well as start to edit it down. I want to keep my chunks to a 100-word maximum, and no more than three chunks of text per screen, roughly. Even that feels a bit text heavy. I might go to 75-word chunks and 3 per screen.

So… preliminary sitemap should be done tonight.Wireframes will follow. Initial design explorations as well. I have 9 days to get things to the point that I can begin working full time on the coding. I think I’ve got enough energy and resources for it, though it’s going to suck. But I’ll just work on things one day at a time until I’m through.

It’s only the first week of October and already panic is setting in. Oy.

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One response to “Thesis: home sick, sitemap time

  1. Don’t forget the .info domain. Less widely used and camped. Also makes a lot of sense for an informational site.

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