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The Simbotics website balances usability with abundant content while maintaining an aesthetically pleasing format, becoming a comprehensive resource for teams world wide. Immediately upon arrival, you are presented with a wide photo of our recent news; the home page also contains an easily readable team and robotics program descriptions, as well as our latest innovative resources.
The media section features news articles, publicity articles, HD videos and photo galleries from events with links to the original images for high quality printing. These outlets help other teams, parents and sponsors easily follow our progress.
Our FIRST and VRC sections contain pages for each year that display helpful information including the game animation, description and our robots and event details. Users are able to see where the events are held, the event results with convenient links to related photo galleries and event summaries.
Our resources section has gone through a huge overhaul. It contains English, Spanish and French resources regarding the fundamentals of robotics. All of our resources are also available on an iPhone, iPad and iPod touch app available for free. It has been downloaded over 3000 times in 74 countries.
The clean interface of our website encapsulates our team branding to give the full Simbot experience. Our philosophy has always been to continually strive for excellence and our website is no exception. The utmost attention to detail ensures a familiar, consistent experience throughout your visit.
"Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works." - Steve Jobs
Our attention to detail is what allows us to create a consistent, pleasant experience throughout the site. Our colour scheme features our team branding.
Website organization has been completely revamped to allow for a more intuitive navigation experience, including a more natural, hierarchical menu and URL structure. Last year we introduced cross-referencing for related information to make finding revenant content easier. We improved upon this by creating a brand new interface for the FIRST and VEX sections which features all content related to any season.
Our website is full of content aimed at both documenting our own teams past, as well as helping other teams' futures. We have focused on making our resources available for other teams, including an entire Kitbot on Steroids guide, our entire Textbook for Success, and our scouting database.
Webmasters and team members alike have ability to participate and collaborate by posting to our members-only forum, submitting photo galleries and other content. This enables members without any previous coding knowledge to actively participate on the website content, while members with a more technical background can focus their efforts on the behavioral aspects of the website.
The Simbotics website incorporates the latest web standards, such as HTML5 and CSS3, while maintaning compatibility with older web browsers.
As opposed to reinventing the wheel and indulging in a new content management system, we opted to use the open source Drupal architecture to develop a new Simbotics website. There is a steep learning curve when beginning Drupal because of its robust nature, but we were able to learn it thoroughly. We have implemented features in an effort to future-proof our website and ensure all content can now easily be migrated to a new design, when necessary.
We have a mobile version of the website that will work with all smart phones (iPhone, Android, Blackberry, etc.).
In addition, there is also a print-specific version of the site to ensure optimal ink and paper usage.
Reaching the largest audience possible is important to us, which includes adding support for people with disabilities. Browsing the website using a screen reader is easy because we have implemented quick screen-reader links to skip directly into the main content. Other features like text versions for non-textual object and new HTML5 semantic elements (time, nav, header, ect.) also ensure every person or machine is able to access the site.
We also have a complete mobile theme to cater the website for any mobile browser.
Performance and scalability
Having a quick website is essential and we achieved this using multiple different layers of caching. When a user visits the website they will simply hit a gzipped plain html file instead of a heavy database driven page. Externally, we also make use of the Cloudflare service to dramatically help website speed and reduce bandwidth.