I’ve been working with the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market for five years now — designing, building and maintaining their website, writing blog posts and photographing artists and their great work.
Their site for the last three markets had worked well, but it was built on an older content management system and needed some freshening of the design and more functionality before this year’s Market in mid-July.
Stronger images, easier to update
I worked with the Market on a new design, aiming for a cleaner look and a wider main column for displaying larger photographs. The Market has a deep library of excellent images that show the real people around the world that are helped by the Market (I’ve taken some of these images — that’s one of mine used on the bottom-left of the homepage — but there’s a talented pool of other photographers who also contribute images). Being able to display photographs in a wide main column gives them more impact, and also gives more flexibility in wrapping text around images, especially for blog posts.
Another aim was that the site be easier to update. While I’ve written nearly all the blog posts in some years, this time round most were written by Clare Hertel Communications — the PR firm that’s also worked with the Market for many years. Making the blog section of the site full-featured but also easy to use was very important.
Once the new design was approved, I planned the move to WordPress from the older CMS — a job that was more involved than for a more straightforward site.
The Market sites includes a blog, a news section and a section containing hundreds of artists’ profiles categorized by the countries they’re from, and the years they’ve attended the Market. WordPress by default only supports two types of content — regular site pages and blog posts, so I devised an architecture based around using custom post types and custom taxonomies to cater for all the different types of content and classifications required.
This means that adding an artist lets you specify a country and years attended when you’re adding the content, and then displays the content in the right place on the site. I also implemented WordPress’ ‘featured image’ functionality to automatically generate thumbnails and associate them with blog posts, news releases and artists. So adding a new blog post for example, automatically places its title and thumbnail on the site’s homepage without any direct editing of the homepage.
Then we moved all the existing content to the new site, and then tested the new version prior to launch.
The WordPress framework for the site now makes it easier for the Market to updated the content themselves, and also allows us to use some of the wide range of plug-ins available to add extra functionality. This is seen in the front page slider which displays revolving selection of banners. It’s also search-engine friendly and easy to add updates and patches as the WordPress core is constantly updated.
The blog area now supports captions for images, embedding maps into posts, and auto-generated slideshows.
Good-looking and built to last
The result is a site that has a contemporary look, a solid custom-designed infrastructure and a framework that supports the range of content uses the Market needs.
The work was completed in time for the busy build-up to the Market, and the site made it much easier than in previous years to add this year’s new artists, blog posts, news releases and other content. It also held up well to the large amount of traffic it receives around the Market weekend — peaking this year at over 4000 visits and 15,000 page views a day.
As the Folk Art Market moves into its tenth year in 2013, their site is a key asset in good shape, and it’s ready to support new endeavours and requirements in the future. I’m proud to have been involved with such a great Santa Fe non-profit organization for the last few years, and look forward to continuing my work with them.