Website Redesign

by Danny Zawacki

As I mentioned recently and as you may have noticed, I redesigned my website because I felt it was a little dated. It was a lot of fun and it took me nearly no time at all when I think about it. But that’s not the only website redesign I’ve done recently.

I redesigned my company’s website. To was it was an experience is an understatement. Let me explain.

The translation company I work at is small, when I was hired there were only 7 other people who worked there. Now, we’re up to 9.5 people (half because we have a couple of people who are on an on-call kind of basis). It’s tiny. For each department, there’s really only two positions: boss and the level below the boss. Straightforward without any room for advancement. That’s not the point of the post. The point is that the company is small, and redesigning a website is still an effort.

The website that the company had been designed in 2007, if I have my facts straight. It’s easy to tell:

This is such a terribly dated website. The worst part about it that the image doesn’t convey is that the text expanded and shrunk with the size of the window. This could lead to quite unexpected results in formatting. Also, stock photos. No.

At some point in the early summer last year, we had a meeting and somehow I offered to work on the website. I got all the information I needed to play around on the server and started by moving the old website from static HTML pages to a WordPress install. I chose WordPress because even a person without any knowledge of HTML could still update the website if they really wanted to. Most of this work was done in my downtime and it moved slowly some weeks.

Then we had another meeting and my bosses asked for an update. I felt they had forgotten about my offer and my work on it had been put the back-burner  (I also had run into some formatting issues here and there which threw me off my game as I wrestled with ways to fix them). They asked for an update and I told them of the progress I had made. They wanted another update in about a month.

All of a sudden, I found myself leading the website meetings (rightly so as no one else expressed any knowledge of web design or coding). It was an odd experience for some reason even though I had led meetings before. I like to keep the meetings on task and moving along because no one likes to be stuck in a meeting all day. Also, I like to cover everything I need to cover. I soon found out that not everyone shared my same point of view and at times the meetings really got derailed. Somehow, we still managed to talk about what needed to be changed. Most of the comments I received was positive and there were suggestions on what should be changed and how (I was left with the task of figuring out how to implement it).

I didn’t do it all myself, I needed help on the copy rewrites as technical writing with a marketing flair was never my strong suit. The production team proved to be a valuable asset for this.

The cycle would go like this: I would hold a meeting and collect feedback. I would implement the feedback. Hold another meeting and then collect more feedback (once or twice contradicting earlier feedback). It went on like this for months. I think I led five or six meetings before all the content was set and the design was set and it was ready to push live. I think it could have gone on and on and on had there not been a deadline of having the website ready a month before this past week’s expo in Las Vegas. They wanted a more professional website for potential clients to view once they started making calls.

The result is this:

Cleaner. Modern. Organized. Easy to update. There are still things about it I might improve on, but overall I’m rather happy with the result.

All that being said, I’m not done with it. There’s more features to implement but were marked as low priority. Also, I’m obsessed with another aspect of the site, but I’ll discuss that later this week or early next week.