Moving from Drupal to WordPress

The INIT lab is updating their website by moving from Drupal to WordPress. Our purpose is to increase awareness of the research we conduct here at UF. Drupal uses blocks and modules whereas WordPress has a greater access to themes and plugins available for customization. For these reasons, we decided to create a new website using WordPress.

I have been working on converting all of the pages from the current website to the future one, which is planned to launch at the end of the summer. As this is my first time creating a website, I have gained several new skills and learned a multitude of techniques.

I first started planning the aesthetics of the site by researching other lab websites. On the University of Washington’s MAD lab website I saw the artistic balance of presenting a photo portraying the business side of their lab, and another portraying the lab’s fun and creative character. The second shows viewers their enthusiasm to conduct research. I also looked at WisconsinHCI’s website which boasted edge-to-edge images and a clean-cut presentation. Lastly, I saw the and decided to also present a slideshow of photos on the Home page to present the different projects being done in the lab in an elegant way.

I am also doing research on ideal screen size proportions to make sure each image is not “fuzzy” and to make sure that a smaller screen-size does not hinder the viewer’s ability to read information. I created a mockup and shared it with my lab mates to gain a greater scope of perspectives and to understand what they would like to see in the future of the website.

WordPress offers a plethora of Themes ranging from elegant and fancy to modern and clean-cut. I decided to make a Child Theme of Seguente to utilize for our website since it would allow the structure of a crafted theme with the ability to customize. Furthermore, Seguente was the theme with the most similarities to our vision for the future website. Since then, I have been editing the style.css file to implement all of the changes to make our website express the character of the INIT lab. By implementing the changes, I have learned the versatility and flexibility of CSS. One thing that I previously considered difficult to do, but have found easy through the tools with CSS, is creating a hanging menu bar at the top.

Currently, there are over 30 pages on the new site and if all goes according to plan, the website will be launched in mid June. I am a rising sophomore, and I look forward to seeing how more of what I learn in my classes can be implemented while doing research as I continue with my courseload. As I am new to the lab, this is my first project. I am advancing through this project by learning through experiencing and making mistakes. In the future, I would like to learn more about how versatile WordPress is.