About two months ago, I approached a friend with a site idea. She is a missionary who has already been all over the world and has another incredible global missions trip planned for this summer. Getting to know her, I loved hearing all the stories she had on her travels and just experiencing her stories vicariously was something I enjoyed. I really wanted to take the stories she had and move them online, because I believe other people would really love to see them as well.

I have been wanting to take on an action-oriented project for quite some time to see if I could pull off anything original regarding engagement. I had nothing specific planned, I just really get joy out of creating something that can impact people who are browsing the web. They spend hours a day there, looking a noise, so why not give them a positive note and compel them to join in with us? I believe people all want to be a part of something, it’s just how to get their attention that’s the challenge.

That project is now live at I wasn’t able to get in the action-oriented approach I wanted due to time constraints, but I was able to find an fun way to approach presenting what events my friend Spencer had coming up and finding a place to share stories in the same place. There isn’t much content there yet, but we’re filling in the gaps and I’ve really enjoyed seeing her writing coming to fruition and being able to capture a small part of personality in it. This is my first big project where I have had this opportunity and am grateful that no hurdles got in the way this time around.

From a development perspective, one of the places I wanted to try some new ideas was scrolling. Parallax sites are really neat, and when pulled off right really grab people’s attention. The homepage on Illuminate Nations is a custom parallax implementation that is failsafe (yeah, I’m proud of that). The pages (such as the about page) scroll over the banner, which was a hard problem to code (several hours on that alone). I really liked an implementation of this that I saw on an iOS app and thought the effect would translate pretty neat to web, and I believe it did wonderfully. I also wanted to really showcase media (specifically photography) on Spencer’s site, because her stories are all accompanied by her photography and they are great accompaniment.

The site is built on Wordpress, and hosted on Appfog, behind Cloudflare. I originally tried running this on Rackspace and was rather disappointed in page render performance, so I forked over for much better hosting. Wordpress is getting a bit sluggish for my needs these days and while it worked here, I am open to other platforms for this sort of project in the future. The site was built in SCSS as well, another personal favorite!

Spencer plans on keeping her blog well-kept and full of her stories from her travels, which I may be sharing on Twitter. We’re going to get her travel stories as a whole on this site and hopefully some other neat things in the future.