We developed the OED web site prior to the launch of OED Online. The site was to provide general information about the dictionary and promote the online version.
We helped plan the site and then worked closely with the site's graphic designers, Denison Design, to create the web graphics. We created the site's pages in the form of templates and provided CGI scripts for the online forms. OUP added final copy to the pages and maintained the site themselves.
A prototype version of OED 2 had been based at www.oed.com and was receiving a lot of traffic. It was already planned to discontinue the prototype but Oxford University Press realised that they could use the address to publish information about the OED and gather information from visitors about an online service through an online questionnaire.
Limitless took over the oed.com domain and then began work with Denison Design to design and build the OED marketing web site. Paola Kathuria was the senior developer and worked closely with the graphic designers; Frank Wales initially wrote the scripts to handle responses from the online questionnaire and, later, programmed larger features.
The design brief was to use the existing Oxford brand of Times Roman typeface, navy, dark red and cream. Denison presented several design routes and OUP chose a home page similar to style to the cover of the printed OED.
Denison developed a button style in which typographical marks were used as section icons. Buttons changed from blue to green when you were in one of the sections.
The Word of the Day page on the marketing site featured a different entry each day. The entries were all based on a list chosen by OUP staff to show off typical entries, while avoiding those that were too long or complex, and those that might cause offence to the casual viewer.
Given this pre-prepared list, we wrote a program to extract the matching HTML-formatted entries from the existing prototype system, as well as a system to re-format the HTML into the style of the marketing web site and to display the appropriate entry on each day.
The web site was to be maintained by OUP staff and so the design had to be straight-forward; no new graphics were required if OUP added sub-sections to the site.
Changes and new pages were uploaded to a restricted-access development server for testing before being made live.
We developed a web-based administration tool to manage content on the development and live OED web sites. The tool examined files on the live and development sites, and presented a listing of new, obsolete and changed pages and images, along with comprehensive options to release changes to the live site selectively or in bulk.
Through the web interface, a back-up copy of the live site could also be made, and later restored, in the event that changes had to be pulled quickly.
This development/live set-up, typical of how Limitless builds web sites, meant that extensive changes could be tried out in private, while their release could be handled by different people from those who prepared or reviewed them.
We redesigned the Oxford English Dictionary web site in 2003.
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