The home page for the Poetry Daily website

Poetry Daily
One of the Most Popular Poetry Sites on the Web

Our principal designer’s college degree is in English literature, not art or graphic design, so it was easy for him to say “yes” when Don Selby and Diane Boller asked him to donate design services for a fledgling web site called Poetry Daily. Their concept was summed up in an idea borrowed from poet Billy Collins: The urge to “tie the poem to a chair with rope and torture a confession out of it” lessens when poetry arises freshly each day. Their plan was to post one new poem every day, along with information about the book or journal from which it was drawn and a short biography of the poet. When we first designed the site in 1997, we decided it would work best if it was kept utterly simple. Therefore, graphically speaking, the whole site consists of three page designs and a handful of header, footer, and navigational graphics. We underscored the daily nature of the site by creating a background showing a manila envelope with the Poetry Daily Logo (our work too!) as the return address and a postmark in the opposite corner. Don and Diane’s web skills were quite rudimentary in the early days, so it was important to create a site where they could easily manipulate the central HTML elements without having to worry about the graphical “wrap.” In the intervening years they have built this site into an extensive and much-loved resource for both poets and poetry lovers.

Bringing Poetry Daily into the Modern Age

When Don and Diane came back to us in 2006 asking for a site redesign, we decided to take the process a step further. In addition to providing an entirely new graphical layout for the site, we built a suite of site management pages which allow Poetry Daily’s operators to prepare the daily poems in advance. For almost ten years, Don and Diane had been manually editing HTML pages and uploading them to the site every night, 365 days a year. Don likes to joke that while the pages generally changed close to midnight early on, as time passed the new day’s poem would start to go up closer to 11 p.m., then 10 p.m. Now, with the management tools we provided them, Don and Diane can prepopulate pages up to 3 years in advance. (And actually go on vacation!) Using a combination of a MySQL database and the scripting language PHP, Poetry Daily’s administration pages store the appropriate information and the computers handle the rest.

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