Websites need redesign and updating periodically to keep them fresh. It’s a good time to improve functionality, too. In my case, I’ve been posting large groups of wildflower photos to Turner Photographics since I started work on the book, Wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest. They were organized by year and then by season. Not the easiest way to find anything. Time for a redesign. Time also to split out the wildflowers into their own site.
After several weeks of work by my talented son, Ian, the new Pacific Northwest Wildflowers went live in early May. It’s user friendly, easy to update, and driven by a powerful database. The old functionality of browsing groups of photos based on where and when they were taken is still available, but better organized. New is the addition of all the text and distribution maps for the 1220 plants in the print edition of Wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest. You can browse these entries by plant family, genus, flower color, and flower type, essentially the same way the book is organized.
The powerful feature of the site is its search capabilities. Every page has a ‘Quick Search’ box so you can look for particular plants by Latin or common name or by photo location. Partial words are accepted, i.e. ‘trill’ will find trilliums. There’s also an ‘Advanced Search’ page where you can specify several key search parameters, such as finding all the yellow flowers in the aster family that grow in Crater Lake National Park.
Once you’ve found what you’re looking for you can build your own selection of favorite photos using the lightbox. Just click the little green plus symbol next to a photo to add it to the working lightbox. Click ‘Lightbox’ on the menu to see the contents and from there you can save your selection. When you save you get a URL you can e-mail to a friend or colleague that can be pasted directly in a browser window to quickly display the contents of your lightbox. It’s pretty slick, and doesn’t require logging into the site to use.
For the technically inclined, Ian built the site using PHP, mySQL, and Smarty templates. We’ll put much of the same design and functionality to work rebuilding Turner Photographics in the coming weeks.