Creative Spirits — History
Isn't it fun to dig in old archives and compare the before - after? I've done it for this site and here's the result:
2000 — www.CreativeSpirits.de is born
Creative Spirits was conceived much earlier — I always had a name for what I did.
But in 2000 I decided to go for a website. This edition was made using frames and colours typical for Australia.
Images were scarce and knowing nothing about design I centered most of the content.
Site size: 900 KB
2001 — Content rules
Nothing much changed design-wise but I added lots of content.
A new section introduced resources like book reviews, newsletters, newspapers and postings. I added many images of scanned slides of my travel through Western Australia.
CSS rendered most of the styling.
Site size: 2 MB
2002 — A slight redesign
Small steps towards "design": The navigation is left-aligned and the site features a breadcrumb navigation.
"Further information" links supplement my content at the bottom of each page about Western Australia, a service which would prove very time-consuming to build and maintain.
I add the elaborate feedback-boomerang. The site still uses frames.
Site size: 3.6 MB
2003 — The revolution?
Except for the homepage and the Lyrics section, frames are scrapped. Images are no longer centered in the copy but jut out of the text to the right. This feature works with Netscape Navigator 4.
Over the year, many movie reviews go into this new section. Images are sliced to facilitate loading and make image fraud more difficult.
Colours are changed to lighten the mood. I add a custom error page, a robots.txt and search functionality. But the site still lacks design and good contrast.
Site size: 6 MB
2004 — Colour and navigation
Frames are gone now. I'm still not happy with the colour scheme and make it lighter again to improve readability.
The menu tries to accomplish the difficult task to show in two levels where you are.
I add the "Web design" section to promote my web work. The site complies to the HTML 4.01 Strict specification.
Site size: 13.5 MB
2005 — The revolution!
I drop the idea of using background colours to match the Australian landscape. Following a trend and the long search for a decent colour scheme I move to a white background and subtle reds and yellows for headings and design elements.
My studies on design show results in a much better contrast for the copy, repeating design elements and lots of white space.
A different pictorial header for each chapter puts life into the design. I drop the labour-intensive "further information" links. The site complies with the XHTML 1.0 Strict specification.
Site size (excluding downloads): 44 MB
2006 — Beautiful photography
2006 saw the addition of the 'photography' section. I not only wanted to offer top class photos of my excursions but also a user-friendly slide show without the overhead of Flash.
2007 — Content, content, content and Google
I have added much content to the site. Visits to the Indigenous Film Festival prompted me to add movie reviews which eventually paid off. Google rewarded me this year with a #1 rank for 'aboriginal movies' and a #2 rank for 'aboriginal films'.
I added a new section, 'Aboriginal Culture', for which I started to write researched articles. I try to use as many Aboriginal sources as possible to offer an Aboriginal rather than a white perspective. One of the popular entries, Aboriginal alcohol consumption, ranks in Google's top 5.
2008 — A new domain with a bad surprise
Early in 2008 I moved from the German (de) to a neutral (info) domain to reflect my living in Australia and to better serve my by now mainly Australian-English users.
However, I forgot that my homepage was in utterly bad condition. No SEO, not many links into my site, and consequently Google dropped my site out of their index after they re-evaluated it.
I had to create a new home page from scratch for traffic to recover to normal levels, which it did after about four weeks. It made it clear to me how powerful Google is when you get about 75% percent of your traffic through organic search.
Two years after adding the section on Aboriginal culture, 9 out of 10 most visited pages are from that area.
2009 — You are gridding me!
Building on what I had learned about grids and vertical rhythm I relaunched the site, aligning components to the grid and restyling my text so that all typography aligned to a vertical rhythm.
Click on the image to compare before and after.
It was a pleasant surprise that the Uniting Church in Queensland voted my site "Website of the Week" in August.
This year traffic reached 2,000 hits a day for the first time.
2010 — Defeat
About half a year after scoring 2,000 hits a day, the site had the first day with 3,000 single hits.
The respectable ABC website quotes my site in one of their articles.
I have to declare defeat—too little time for too much to do. I decide to introduce a content management system and work hard to create templates and migrate hundreds of pages manually. By year's end the main resources section has been migrated.
2011 — An unexpected recognition
In March traffic reaches 4,000 hits a day. The poetry section moves into the content management system. Many more entries for books come in as it's now easier to add content.
Together with a friend I present my site at the Aboriginal Studies Association Conference in Sydney.
In December I receive an email from the National Library of Australia which "has selected [my] publication for archiving because we have judged it to be an important component of the national documentary heritage." The site is now publicly available in the PANDORA Archive.
2012 — What's up?
Don't worry, I'll be working on this thing!
Watch this space.