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LANGHAM STATION

graphic design and web programming

 

CASE STUDY

Getting Visitors Hooked

Client: Picante Sportfishing

Category: Web

Picante Sportfishing was in dire need of a facelift. They had not updated their site in seven years and it was showing. In 2007, the company approached Infowit, who contracted me to work solely on creating and developing the redesign, which launched in April 2008.

The Problem:

Built in 2000 when Web standards was just a sparkle in Jeffrey Zeldman and company's eyes, the site employed nested tables and text images for its layout. It was also a static site, making updating very difficult. Adding a yacht to their fleet meant not only creating a detail page but also updating the detail pages of all the other yachts that linked to each other. Also, the client wanted to increase the number of search engine referrals.

The Solution:

The first part involved redesigning the site to meet Web standards. Not only would the site load faster, it would also be optimized for search engines. The other part of the solution was to introduce a dynamic architecture that included moving some of their content to a database. This allowed me to develop a content management system so the client could update their site whenever they needed.

The Process:

During my initial meeting with the client, we covered the issues with the current site and discussed the client's wish list. The meeting was also an opportunity to go over the process we would follow in redesigning his Web site.

  1. Research: This entailed studying the competition's Web sites, not only to discover certain desirable features but to get a feel for certain conventions established in his industry that his visitors would expect to see in his site. Since Picante already had a Web site, I set them up with Google Analytics and waited a few weeks in order to gather sufficient data. I was now able to determine the geographic location of visitors (great for online ads or special offers), which were the popular pages, who the referrers were, and what search terms people were using. From my research, I delivered a report with recommendations to the client.
  2. Architecture: Before we could talk about the "look" of the site, which is usually the client's primary focus, we needed to hammer out some of the behind-the-scenes issues such as the database table relationships, the site map, and page functionality.
  3. Visual Design: After clarifying the architecture of the site, I was actually ready to begin coding even before a visual design was chosen. This is one of the many advantages of Web standards. By separating content from presentation, I could streamline the development process. I presented a Photoshop comp of the home page, which was eventually revised after client feedback. After the look of the home page was determined, styling began and we were able to move on to determine the look of the interior pages.
  4. Coding: Of course, the process does not follow a linear path, and coding is an example of how two stages can easily and efficiently occur simultaneously. Once the architectural issues of the site are determined, coding can practically occur immediately. The database can be set up, for example, while I am still working with the client on the site's visual presentation.
  5. Client Testing: During development the Web site resides on a testing server where the client can review the site and test out its features. Since the site also included a content management system (CMS), the client also needed to test out the system to see how easy it was to update the site on their own.
  6. Launch: The work is not done just because the site goes live. I still provided (and continue to provide) technical support, including updates to the site that fell out of the scope of the CMS.