Web (Re)Design

Between VisCom and the corporate world, the one transition I can’t make is that of timing. During Soul of Athens production, when someone asked for something “soon,” they meant “pretty much immediately.” When an office coworker asks for something “soon,” it’s really more like “before the end of the week.”

That brings us to my first real completed project at work. From the time I got the official “Go” until the changes went live was somewhere in the neighborhood of eight weeks. Eight. Weeks. A VisCom quarter would have basically come and gone in that time and I would have forgotten all about anything I started so long ago. But here, I’m still tweaking things after launch. (As I should be, there’s still one small glitch.)

To preface, iCare is a software maintenance package. Instead of paying tons of money each time you decide to update software, you pay a fixed subscription price and all updates are included. It’s actually a good deal for the customer, but not an obvious value. (If Adobe tried to sell me the same thing for Creative Suite I’d be unsure.) So, how do we explain that online?

Here’s the original iCare page content, done by the previous Multimedia Developer:

And here’s the new one:

Our new addition is the Releases tab, to really drive home why a maintenance package is important.

Not super sexy or anything, right? That’s probably the biggest lesson I learned in those weeks of coding and recoding (and recoding). Form follows function supremely, and we’re here to inform, not woo, potential customers.

However, I’ll finish the next project faster having learned a few hard lessons.

  • Be patient. As I mentioned before, even priority projects take longer than I expect. If someone doesn’t get back to me “soon”, I ask again a little more politely.
  • Test everything in Internet Explorer first. IE users may be decreasing, but there’s still more of them than anyone else. I’m a diehard Firefox user and a Mac girl at heart, and it kills me to use IE9 on a PC at work every day, but that’s what it has to be.
  • Not everyone is a visual thinker (but remember who is!). I proudly show off my sketches and drafts but I’m not taking a web class with other students anymore. Coworkers may not have time to truly examine what I’ve shown them, or may not want to hurt my feelings/ask questions. If I can explain my visuals and try to tease questions out of others, that’s hands down the best plan.
  • Know your place. In my job position, I’m a code vessel rather than a web designer. Managers/coworkers know the products best and generally have good ideas for their web presence. All I truly need to do is make that as appealing and efficient as possible. Nothing you see above was my idea alone.
  • Know your CMS [content management system]. I wouldn’t have spent so much time learning JavaScript had I known our CMS wouldn’t take JavaScript. Whoops.
  • It’s cliche, but, honest communication. After VisCom critiques I can say what I’m thinking and digest others’ thoughts as well. But I’ve found that I don’t always get honest critiques back from coworkers. That leads to moments like “Why is that image still there? I never said anything because I thought it was a joke, but you never removed it.” Now that you’ve told me, I’ll remove it.
  • Nothing’s personal. In school I reminded myself that critiques weren’t personal (though they often were), but at work, that’s the case even less so. Everyone may love a feature but it doesn’t fit corporate guidelines or we simply can’t put it in our CMS. Sometimes my ideas suck, but sometimes they’re awesome and still can’t be used.