Design and Development Notes on the OERxDomains Guide

I want to see if I can organize a Reclaim Today session wherein Tim, Lauren and I sit down with Michael Branson Smith and Tom Woodward to talk about the OERxDomains21 site. I figure the sooner we can capture some of the thinking the better. To that end I wanted to jot down a few notes of my own for that chat and beyond.

I really loved the headless approach, this was my first time using headless in production, and the way in which folks could use an application they were familiar with to add and edit content while never touching the design was quite elegant. I think it also underscores the value in truly designing an experience rather than settling for what any one CMS gives you when it comes to the visual frontend experience. Michael Branson Smith’s (MBS) animated movie posters created using HTML/CSS/JS were in many ways the inspiration for this idea—we wanted something that looked like those!

Vertigo, 1958 HTML Movie Poster

A piece that really worked quite well with the TV Guide program was that pre-recorded YouTube videos for the Domains21 track could be set to premiere at a specific time and day allowing everyone to watch them simultaneously—avoiding being a few seconds, or minutes, apart in the live chat. Tim found Youtube’s premiere option at the 11th hour, which was lucky for us because I don’t think we could have pushed Michael Branson Smith (the web developer behind the site design) any harder those last few days.

Originally, after being inspired by Digital Ocean’s Deploy conference we wanted each track to run as a non-stop stream. A channel that would use bumpers to punctuate sessions with possible “commercials” and the like in between sessions, but something that would keep the participants engaged and watching/commenting. That was not a possibility with our setup this go around, but I would be interested in figuring this out for a future version. I would like the channel/track to not only link to individual videos, but sew them together as an ongoing channel wherein there would be the live/pre-recorded sessions, the interspersed with Gasta sessions, commercials, brief updates, fun non sequiturs, etc. The idea being that once a conference participant is pulled into a session they would be engulfed by the stream (eyeballs and clicks #4life 🙂 ). In this setup we atomized the videos a bit too much based on necessity, but I think we could make it so no one ever tunes out of the various tracks.

On that point, MBS had the brilliant idea of having the channel changer on the TV player actually work to switch between active tracks. How sick would that have been? I want another shot at this just to realize the full vision 🙂 That said, I am sure I would not change anything about the website design and layout. It was truly a compelling experience to view sessions framed by the OERxDomains TV Bryan Mathers drew, and clicking-through the guide to get to them was half the fun.

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2 Responses to Design and Development Notes on the OERxDomains Guide

  1. Alan Levine says:

    This was the best conference program guide over, it was a joy to use and see each time. Congrats for pulling it off so well and for working in the conversion to local times. That means so much.

    One small, tiny request. I sure like seeing the front page https://oerxdomains21.org/ but it keeps redirecting to Day 1, shouldn’t it now just stay on the cover since the event is over?

    Do it again!

    • Reverend says:

      Thanks Alan, it was pretty fun to watch Tom and MBS go, and it really helped me understand when and where headless could be awesome.

      I stopped the redirect given, you’re right, it no longer makes sense. And I still think we could update the OERxDomains Guide so that it has more text about more of the sessions from both days, will see what’s possible.

      Appreciate the love, I’ll stop blogging about it one day!

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