One of the first websites I built, way back in the early days of this millennium and long before I started Big Big Design, was the website of the Gist Street Reading Series. This reading series in Pittsburgh features emerging local and national writers; it’s fun and informal, and I have been excited to be associated with it.
The site held up surprisingly well over the years, and handled all the archival content we threw at it. But the co-directors of the series and I wanted to add some capabilities: A way for them to easily add and update content on the site, better searching on the site, more quotes from past readers, better email list signup, and most importantly a podcast from the readings.
We kept the general look and navigation from the original site, but created a new site using Joomla, which is an open source content management system. The Joomla community has created a library of extensions, so we’ll be able to expand the site over time as needed, without having to program the code for each piece.
The podcast consists of brief excerpts from past readings — some are longer, being entire short stories, while some are short and contain only a single poem plus a short introduction. Each is read by the author or poet. The first is posted, and we’ll publish a new one on the first Friday of each month, the day when the Gist Street Reading Series is traditionally held.
The reading series is going on a six-month hiatus, so this expanded website was extra-important. The series leaders want to maintain contact with past attendees and readers, as well as potential future readers and funding agencies. The new features in the site will help to maintain those lines of communication and connection.