I don’t very often write about my own work on my blog, so following the re-design and launch of United Online this evening, I thought I’d take the opportunity to review my latest little project for a change.
Over the last couple of years I’ve not really had the chance in the evenings to dedicate any time to my own projects but as I’d not done anything to Manchester United Online for a while, I thought it was time to freshen up the design and bring the code up to date.
I wanted to bring the design a bit more up to date and let things breath a lot more with a bit of space around the content. The old design didn’t really have any consistency in displaying adverts either so I wanted to group them in one location so the theme ran much better throughout the site.
When redesigning United Online, I also wanted to consider how CSS could be used much more effectively so by considering this during the design phase it actually made the coding of the site much easier and straight forward.
United Online has been built using semantic XHTML and validates to the W3C Strict guidelines. It’s also using web standards to ensure cross browser compatibility and uses CSS for presentation.
I’ve also taken this opportunity to use Cufón Font Replacement for all h1 and h2’s, partly to test it out on a fully functional website but also because the replaced fonts do add an extra touch of polish to the site and I didn’t fancy creating all those headings as individual images.
The Content Management
I was initially going to use wordpress but as the content was already held in a database and there were thousands of articles, I didn’t fancy converting all those articles into a wordpress database so the new United Online is currently using my own custom build content management system built using PHP and MySQL. Granted, the backend isn’t as flexibile or as professional as something like WordPress but it does the job and is a bit more tailored to exactly what I need it for. Being able to tag news articles with related players and then cross reference them to appear on a player profile as related news for example is something that might not have been so easy using an out of the box solution.
Time will tell if the new redesign is a success but I’m much happier with the site now as it’s much more flexible to add and change content as well as functionality. There’s still plenty more that I want to add to United Online but it’s definitely taken a step in the right direction.
Please feel free to leave any feedback or suggestions in the comments below. I may also be looking in the future to use the content management system to run other sporting websites so if this is of interest to you please feel free to get in touch.