If you recall in April 2007 I wrote a post mentioning how I had helped redesign the Practice Cafe website. Soon after that site was launched we quickly began to realize that the site had many limitations and flaws. The way the site was designed, was not conducive to a lot of growth and there wasn't much flexibility. At the time I was still learning how to design webpages and I did the best I could with the knowledge I had. One of the main flaws of the old site was that it was not very accessible as a website should be. not only that but we realized their was a lot of things we as a company wanted our website to do and say that it wasn't doing, and it was too hard to get it to do those things without redesigning it all together.
So back in July 2007 we decided to start refreshing our site. The last time we tried to do it way too quickly and therefore the site had far too many mistakes. so this time we decided we were going to take it slower and really think it through. After discussing the specific goals we needed the site to achieve I came up with a rough design for the site, shown above (click on the image to view a larger version).
However after further discussion we realized that I wasn't looking at this opportunity as giving myself a blank canvas. This design was only a slight modification of the old site, and I think I was trying to hold on to too many elements of the old flawed site. Another flaw to this design was that we wanted to have the entire waitress still standing to the side on every page of the website, since she has become one of the ways many people recognize our company. So I decided to start fresh, and I came up with a second idea for the website, shown above (click on the image to view a larger version).
Still this new idea didn't seem to really accomplish everything we had in mind. So we began to start to make several tweeks. One major problem was that we wanted the waitress to be one of the first things you saw on every page without having to scroll. We also needed her to be standing on the red checkered floor. So we finally came to a solid design which met all of our goals, at least on a graphics level.
So then we had a team meeting during lunch where we came up with a strong sitemap for the site. In the meeting we discussed in detail the goals we had for our site as far as content was concerned. We came to the conclusion that we wanted our website to be more educational, and informative. We wanted the site to be extremely user friendly, and accessible. Another goal was for our site to be better optimized for search engines.
At the end of that meeting we set a goal to launch the new site in April 2008. So 47 pages later I am happy to now say that the new site has been launched and is happily in it's natural habitat on the world wide interweb here. Please feel free to follow the link and visit the site, and please tell me what you think of the site?
I have to say that this website was very much a collaborative effort, so although most of the design and coding was done by myself, it was only after a lot of brainstorming and other discussions with Joel. Also Angie took on the job of writing and preparing almost all of the copy for the website, and I have to say she did a very beautiful job. She really turned the site into a very educational and informative site. Shara also helped write and prepare the case studies, and all of the partner pages of the website and did an equally fabulous job. Then as a team we all took turns reading, re-reading, and searching the site to catch as many mistakes as we could find and fixing them all the way up until the last moment when I was given the "OK" to set the refreshed site FREE on Thursday April 17, 2008.