In time for the 43rd anniversary of Apollo 17, the all new Apollo17.org is now live!
A few months into the process I had gone as far as I could go. The site was completely functional, had a new layout, the navigator interface was singing, but the site still looked like it was built by a developer (me). I reached out again to my good friend, Chris Bennett for help. Chris is a very talented, multidisciplinary guy. I knew he had both the coding and design skill to take the site to the next level. Chris took the layout I had arrived at (from his original recommended approach of photo-first) and applied his own visual design concept to the site. It’s truly rewarding to work with people of complimentary talents. As the site took shape with Chris’s design, it went from being a personal hobby project of mine, to having a life of its own. Chris also trimmed down (greatly) a lot of the copy I had written while trying to explain things on the site. The simple summary of “A real-time journey through the Apollo 17 mission. Every moment relived as it occurred in 1972.” was really all that needed to be said. I couldn’t be happier with the results of Chris’s efforts. I owe him huge.
Update: Dec 12/2015
The response to the website has been nothing short of amazing. Thousands of people have visited throughout the anniversary so far, and I have received many notes of compliments and thanks. I heard through a friend close to the mission that Jack Schmitt, the Lunar Module Pilot on Apollo 17 saw the site and thought it was great. I never thought any of the crew would see the results of my efforts and it’s humbling to know that Dr. Schmitt saw it. I also heard that Gene Kranz, Flight Director of the mission said that I have “made the mission come alive once again.” Fantastic!
NASA’s Johnson Space Center shared apollo17.org on Facebook and Twitter. This drove a big spike in traffic and really got the word out among those interested in the history of spaceflight. It was a real compliment that they thought the site was share-worthy. Some people even thought NASA had made it. Nope.
I have also received a lot of positive feedback on the user experience. While there’s plenty of opportunity to make the experience more palatable to a broader audience, the vast majority of people not only understood how to use the site without instructions, but loved how the navigation enabled them to consume such a vast amount of content. I have some ideas on how to improve the interface, but these can wait. For now, I’m going to keep spreading the word about the site during the mission anniversary as best I can.