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Pacific Aikido is an English-language Aikido dojo operating at various schools within Tokyo. The site has been built with two goals in mind. The first is to provide some information about Pacific Aikido to potential students, and the other is to provide a platform on which the owner can communicate directly with his students and their parents. Therefore there are two sides to the site, the outward facing public site, and a private back-end for current and existing students/parents, requiring a login to access.
We at Jaypan are coders at heart. Drupal, while often thought of as a CMS (Content Management System) is actually a CMF (Content Management Framework). This means that at its core, Drupal is a framework, which provides many APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) allowing developers and designers to hook into the system, and create new functionality without having to code it from the ground up. Using these APIs, various developers (including Jaypan) have created the 20,000+ modules available on Drupal.org.
An example of a Drupal API that we have used is the Image API, that allows for the re-sizing of images by the system. We created a settings page that allows the site owner to upload images, and these images are automatically re-sized by the system, and used in the slideshow and the gallery. This means the site owner can update the site at will, without needing to re-size images to specific dimensions, thereby keeping the site from going stale, and hopefully appealing to students who can check back at times and find pictures of themselves.
The contributed modules available for Drupal are an excellent resource for building websites on Drupal. Users with little to no programming knowledge can piece together the modules they need to put together sites with powerful dynamic functionality. However, we at Jaypan prefer to use fewer modules, and code sites to our exact specifications. The Drupal framework provides an excellent resource that meets the best of all worlds -- we can code exactly how we want, but do not have to do it from the ground up, and for certain types of functionality we can use contributed modules that have thousands of users and testers, ensuring powerful, stable code. Add this to the security provided by using the various Drupal APIs, and for us, Drupal is not just our choice for Pacific Aikido, but for all of our projects. We are Drupal developers.
Pacific Aikido is an English-language Aikido dojo (martial arts school) operating at various private schools within Tokyo. The owner of Pacific Aikido is interactive with his clients, and until now has been providing a professional, personal experience for his students and their parents primarily using email. The owner wanted to streamline his communications with parents and students, in order to provide the best possible services for his clients. As such, the site has been built with two primary goals.
- The first is to provide some information about Pacific Aikido to potential students or anyone else interested in the school.
- The second is to provide a platform on which the owner can communicate directly with his students and their parents/guardians, and provide information in a central area where students can reference it when necessary.
Because of the nature of these goals, there are two sides to the site, the outward facing public side, and a private side requiring a login, for students, parents, and staff.
The private side of the site works under the idea of 'groups'. Groups were provided using the Organic Groups module, which allows for private sections of a site, containing content only available to members of that group. Users are added to these groups, and then are able to see their group page, with events, messages, and information about the group. Integration is provided with Google Maps, to show a map for groups that are schools, and school contact information is available to members of the group. The owner can create group-specific pages, and share these pages with whichever groups he wants, ensuring that he only has to enter data one time, while making it available to as many or few groups as necessary.
The site also has a custom Private Message system, which we built in-house, taking advantage of Drupal's extremely powerful Form API, using the Form API's ajax system to load private message threads and messages on the page without ever requiring a page reload.
Additionally, the site has a custom course registration system, so that the owner can create courses, and a custom notification system to inform users of upcoming courses, asking for them to log in and either register or refuse the upcoming terms. All these systems are put in place in order to ensure that everyone knows what they need to know, when they need to know it, and that it is easy to find. The site has truly been customized to meet the needs of the business for which it was built.
In building Pacific Aikido, we looked at other Aikido websites, and it was immediately apparent that they had generally gone in two directions, either showcasing the art of Aikido itself, or focusing on the kanji (Japanese characters) for the word Aikido. We decided to go a different route, to focus on the 'Pacific' in Pacific Aikido. We therefore went with colors that denote the ocean and the sea; clear blues, calming greens and soothing purples. They point back at the fluidity of the water and the fluidity of the movement in Aikido.
Like the ocean these colors are never stable. Links and various elements on the page slowly change in color over time, and changing when the user clicks through pages on the site. Everything is anchored by the warm purple of the header. Subtly but directly inspired from the Dojo setting, the tiles of the homepage banner should remind us of the mat where partners learn the art. The transition is smooth as slides move out to make room for others. Once the transition is complete the grid is again rigid, disciplined.
And finally, we provided a gallery, accessible at the bottom of every page, so that users can see images of the students having fun and enjoying their time at Pacific Aikido, because in the end, that is what it is all about.