March 18, 2013
At the end of February, I was happy to launch an end-to-end branding and website redesign for Cedar Lake Christian Assembly in Biloxi, MS. I brought in Drew Rodgers to do the logo and print work, and I handled the web stuff. In the end, we gave them a new online identity and responsive site, and I walked away with a handful of notes (in no particular order):
- Sass is awesome. For those who don’t know, Sass is a preprocessor language that lets you mix variables, plugins, and other fun tricks into your CSS. Since you can compile it to CSS while developing, there’s no special compatibility needs in the production environment. I played with it on previous sites, but this was my first large project using it from the very beginning. From my experiments before, I had a good framework already built, and I got to use Sass to do all the math for responsive layouts.
- I love HTML/CSS wireframes. After some pencil sketches, I was able to create a responsive wireframe using a plain HTML template and a lot of Sass. Later, I used those same source files as a base for the fully-designed mockups.
- My clients and I don’t need static comps. I was skeptical at first, but we went through most of the design decisions using the responsive wireframe and some style tiles (showing colors, fonts, and buttons). After that, I was able to create a single set of HTML mockups with a home page and a single content page. We iterated a couple times, but it was fast and the client never felt the need to push for more options just for the sake of options. Best of all, what they saw worked like the final site (except for IE bugs) because it was actual, responsive code.
- I need to return to videos for training. I had abandoned them after a bad experience, and because I dislike my voice (a personal issue). In the end, though, interactive screen sharing pushed my U-verse (and my clients) past the limit.
- Every website needs a goal. It’s obvious, but even a church website needs a goal for the users. Online video and integration with Church Community Builder is so important to Cedar Lake, that we added buttons for non-mobile users to access them from any page (and mobile users get them added to the main menu dynamically).
- TYPO3 version 6 is the best yet. I decided to take the risk of using the newest version (and spending time fixing old extensions). They still found a few rough edges in the editing and management experience, but it’s definitely the best version of TYPO3 I’ve ever turned somebody loose on.
- All that matters in the end is that the client’s happy. We worked through miscommunication, choppy internet (which later died), new processes, and conquered a 600 mile distance to launch a site. At the end, we were all happy with the results, and my main contact, Kristy, was nice enough to write a testimonial in case I ever get time to update craftandstory.com.
I had a great time rebuilding this site from the ground up, and I got a few more lessons to take to the next big challenge.