Today we are announcing the launch of our new website. Our old site has been around since 2014 and has served us well. However, it was time to refresh things and to make our site much more integrated with our projects and data.
In terms of appearance, the first thing that may be noticeable is the increased use of colour. We've drawn from the ODI HQ brand colours so that we provide a consistent feel with the HQ website. The colour use also lets us convey a sense of how our space feels on hack-days/data-jams; bright and dynamic.
Back to basics
Unlike many sites, we've gone back to basics and have removed our bloated content management system (Bloaty McBloatpress). We weren't really making full use of its features and, without it, we have a lot more flexibility to integrate with other things we create.
Recently we created a dashboard to display summary stats about what we've been doing. This is powered by data in a series of CSV files stored in a repository on Github. Our website was going to be using some of the same information so it seemed sensible to make the dashboard the one place we update; if we have information in multiple places we'll always forget to update one of them. Following the principle of "eating your own dog food", our website now uses the dashboard CSV files as data sources to automatically update things like the list of sponsors in the footer and the list of projects.
Next up was a page to show our upcoming events. We didn't actually have one on our old site but we were updating our events on our Google calendar. Rather than give ourselves two places to update, it made sense for the website to re-use the information on Google Calendar. As our calendar is open, it is easy to export it as an iCal file that can then be used to automatically update the Events page. We use the "available/busy" status on Google Calendar to add a note if the workspace is open/closed for co-working. If we've added an Eventbrite link to an event's description, we turn that into a nice button. We also assign colours to events automatically by analysing the letters used in the title. That means events with the same title will have the same colour.
Alongside a visual and technical refresh, we have plans to expand what we offer on the website. News and blog posts will be more frequent, with a long-term view to having guest posts from the amazing people who get involved in our events, talking about the projects they were inspired to create. Collaboration is a vital part of what we do, so we relish any opportunity to share what people are up to in and around Leeds.
We also aim to be as open as possible, so we've added more information about the space, our services, how we can help you, and how we are funded. A frequent question we got asked was 'What is ODI Leeds?' often paired with 'What is open data?' so we've done all we can to make this much clearer.