TGV Design are a branding and marketing communications company, with an impressive portfolio of design work. They commissioned me to build their website in WordPress. The website is now unavailable, but this is what it looked like.
TGV provided me with PSDs, visual designs created using Photoshop. These included mockups for the home page, blog, portfolio, contact us, and other pages, which had a consistent and eye-catching design. It was my job to turn these flat pictures into a working website. I’d like to share with you some of the techniques used to build the website …
How to make WordPress more flexible, and display information more consistently
The TGV website has very few static pages. Apart from a blog, its main feature is a collection of samples of their work, organised into collections according to discipline (branding, web design, exhibitions etc). For each of their clients, there’s a gallery of photos of work done for them.
Because this information needed to be ordered and presented consistently, I opted to use several features of WordPress that enable the creation of non-standard web content. You may have heard people say that WordPress isn’t a fully fledged content management system, that it’s just a blogging tool. Not true! The following three features enable you to create complex websites with information arranged however you want.
1. Custom Post Types : create new types of content, not just the standard pages and posts. For example, TGV’s website has “work samples”. A literary website I’ve worked on has “authors” and “books” as custom post types. You get a new box on the WordPress dashboard, alongside “Posts”, “Pages”, “Links” etc where you can add and edit your new type of post.
2. Taxonomies : organise multiple lists of terms to describe and categorise your content. For example, a book can be categorised by language, genre etc. On the TGV Design website taxonomies are used to organise their portfolio according to discipline, client and sector.
3. Custom Fields : add new types of information to your posts. For example, a book might have publication date, publisher and author as custom fields.
I used WPMU DEV’s CustomPress plugin for WordPress. This plugin makes it easier to create custom post types, taxonomies and custom fields, and integrate them into your website templates, without having to write a lot of code from scratch.
An important feature of the TGV Design website is its use of carousels (also called slideshows or sliders). There are lots of carousel plugins to choose from, and I found one called yCyclista that did exactly what was required. There’s a gallery feature built into in WordPress that lets you upload photos and associate them with any page. The yCyclista plugin takes this gallery of photos and turns it into a slideshow, with thumbnails below a large image. Some customisation and styling was required to get it looking right, but the plugin’s code made that easy to do.