Cottonwood Creek needed a way to manage a website for 10 separate, but related departments. I developed a ground-up content management system that allowed each department to have a unique look and feel.

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Designing for a Purpose.

Cottonwood Creek Baptist Church is a very large church in Allen, TX. When I arrived, they were rapidly outgrowing their existing static website, and they asked me to come up with a solution. One of the key requirements was that each department wanted the ability to maintain their own look & feel, as well as create and edit their own content.

To meet their needs, I developed a multi-departmental content management system and PHP framework to make it easy to develop unique looking department ‘themes,’ while maintaining the standard layout and navigation scheme of the larger site. The entire system was controlled by a central maintenance application, designed to be easy for ministers to use with little to no training.

Blazing a Trail.

The work I did fro Cottonwood Creek was done at a time when Firefox was still considered ‘new,’ Chrome didn’t exist yet, and nobody had really heard of AJAX. Designing a good looking website that could be edited by non-designers and still work in IE5 for Mac was, to put it mildly, challenging.

We couldn’t use CSS for much, because it just wasn’t supported well enough, so everything had to be done with table-based layouts. Nevertheless, Cottonwood Creek was one of the first sites to make heavy use of PNGs (using some clever hacks), and JavaScript UI.

Rapid Response.

Life at a large church moves quickly, and I was frequently asked to develop custom applications on very short notice. Custom front page splashes for special events were common as well. Using our existing code framework, I was able to easily deal with these requests, often turning around complete web applications within mere days.
Tyler Vano <>
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