The History of Vigistry.com
I registered my first Internet account with Mint.net and put my novice web design skills to work. Strangely enough, my debut site had little to do with art. Rather, I dedicated it to Good vs. Medieval. This site had buttons shaped like opening books, and it promoted my first literary experience, What Goes Around. Along with basic text and graphics, this site was loaded with Easter Eggs. Visitors were challenged to solve a mystery, and by searching for clues throughout the site could they find the secret ending page. One person actually contacted me saying she dissected the html to find it. Cheater! A small art gallery was added a few months later.
At this time, the art gallery became the focus of the site, and my comic babes took over the shift. This was an experimental phase with lots of gathered script goodness. On load, the home page graphic changed randomly to show the colors and face of either Bluette, Celest, or Centura. This was accompanied by a random selection of bad midi music playing in the background. How obnoxious! The buttons were oval shaped, multicolored and gaudy. Worse, with the Holidays in mind, I added garland and blinking lights to the mix! A makeshift guestbook was created in which I received the entries by e-mail and uploaded them myself. It was a beginning, and notice how this scheme didn't last very long.
Employing the less-is-more tactic, I ditched the overdone effects and set up the home page to resemble a bimonthly magazine cover featuring a new piece of art per issue. The galleries were constructed in simple paragraph format with a thumbnail on the left and its description on the right. Designing the covers was fun, but the insides got stale pretty quickly. Where's the fun in a finished model railroad?
It was the debut of columns and "nori" background, a design style I stuck with for a while. The huge page headers and buttons were a thrill to create. Buttons were in! Every web site needed buttons to flash, blink and do tricks when someone pressed them! Each gallery had different backgrounds and different colored columns, but functionality wasn't really dealt with. I was having too much fun with buttons!
My blue phase marked my transition from Adobe Pagemill to Dreamweaver, yes. Now all sorts of fun was to be had! The header graphics remained big and gaudy, but the button fad wore out. Some major changes were made to the interface due to lovely frames and behaviors. Thumbnails that were once stacked in paragraphs were now arranged in mosaics, and mousing over them brought up their descriptions in the bottom frame. Full-size pictures opened in separate windows, and to keep the bottom frame occupied when there was no activity, it played a Flash animation (created in Macromedia FreeHand!) It looked good on the outside, but tons of escaped html code (%62%61%64%21) from those lousy Dreamweaver behaviors made it a nightmare to edit.
Oh boy. I got carried away with crazy Dreamweaver effects and discovered the grief of cross-browser incompatibility. The galleries had a nifty feature in which a menu of thumbnails could be scrolled through, and clicking them brought up full-size pictures without loading a separate page. The more whimsical stuff included pixies that swarmed the title banner and could be swatted with a click. An earlier version of this insanity rendered little blood splats and sound clips of anguished screams— just because I could... on select browsers. Mousing over a tiny hotspot in the title banner brought Weed out of hiding. Because of all the bells and whistles, the simplified back door was created.
The first design under the official Vigistry.com name. After reading the book of Google Hacks, which explained content, link webbing, and recommended that a good web site should be at least a hundred pages, I put it to the test. That's the home page; look at all the content! And the hundred-page quota was no problem. The interface with thumbnails appearing in the top frame and opening in the center worked very well, which is why I don't wish to change it— just improve on it. I also started learning CSS, so that definitely needed to be improved. The fancy mouse pointers (sword, heart-and-arrow, and laser gun) were a sign of my having too much fun with CSS.
XML was traded for the much easier and versatile mySQL, so organization became so easy. Designwise, flaming buttons, sliding panels, and live-scan magnification were introduced, as well as decorative elements that overlapped the content such as fairy Celest, there. Not having her block the scrollbar could have been a better plan! Behind the scenes, lots more work was put into search engine optimization, and some art pieces started popping up on image searches. Succubus images prove rather appetizing to spiders; go figure.
So a big Succubus Bluette started gracing the left column, flirting with the main window yet minding her space; dynamic content flexibility among screen resolutions was introduced here. Pretty as the home page was, visitors now came mostly through image searches; thus the art pages themselves were designed to do the welcoming. And lastly, a site you might have heard of called Facebook, with its ubiquitous Like button, expanded its plague to Vigistry.
Although I mostly promote art, all aspects of Vigistry got a fair share of the design template. Not just limited to art thumbnails, a Good vs. Medieval section and interactive section were featured in a side panel with sliding tabs. Each could be maximized or minimized depending on what you wanted to see. Viewport responsiveness was another major focus of this version. A Google+ button came and went, followed by Twitter. And browser sniffing is still alive with Firefox hanging on Google fonts and Explorer being Explorer. Anyone using that hopeless browser got sent to the no-script site. Can't technology just get along?
Vigistry has entered the world of touch-screen technology! Buttons and menus were greatly minimized in anticipation that fingers would start doing most of the browsing work. A user could swipe in one of three directions to navigate galleries; the side gallery and description box were also finger controlled. The site's focus went back into art as I hadn't been writing many GvM stories, and Flash games were, well, Flash. These extras, along with others, were placed in a separate "more stuff" gallery. I first started building this release using the JQM framework, which turned out to be presumptuous, intrusive, cookie-cutter, bloated, and crash-prone according to this artist. I trashed it for my own homemade, untampered code because programming should stay fun and creative.