Design Project – Extraordinary Weddings
This was another web development project for an entertainment company located in Pennsylvania, starting with the web site template purchased by the client. Initially, the project began with modifications to the new web site template, however it soon became apparent that a complete overhaul was needed to optimize the images as well as the coding to make it more search engine friendly and loading much faster over slower networks.
But on the other hand, the client also wanted high-quality graphics so that the web site looked very professional and clean. It really came down to finding a happy middle-ground between what the client wanted versus what was practical and what really works. Finding that sweet-spot or balance took some time and patience.
While the client had already purchased a web template that they felt suited their needs, the problem was in the actual coding (HTML) of the site, which was compounded by the very heavy use of images with large file sizes and Flash elements. Slow page loading speeds were compounded even further by the liberal use of tables to create the actual page layout, which is actually a big ‘no-no’ in web development. This was also a problem because each time that any page content did not fit neatly into one of the tables, it distorted the entire layout of the page; it simply looked very unprofessional and the client was losing customers due to the extended page loading times.
But the client was reluctant to devote a lot of time or resources into reworking the web template in what was viewed as a turn-key solution. So a quick-fix was developed for the client that used Server-Side Includes (SSI) to break the page down into sections. This helped to increase page loading speeds slightly, but it was only a partial and temporary fix at best as search engine ranking still sputtered along, lagging well behind the local competitors.
The next step in the development process was correcting some of the actual page content issues. Again the client was resistant to a complete overhaul of the site, instead opting for another attempt at reducing page loading speeds. The SSI framework was replaced with a similar PHP version that dynamically generated pages based upon the site visitor’s choices. However this resulted in only slight improvements in loading speeds, measured in fractions of a second, but managed to display the main page content rather quickly, then filled in the dynamically called headers, footers, etc.
It should be noted that up until and including this version of the client’s web site were not W3C compliant and also had very poor search engine ranking. It should also be noted that with each change to the web site previously, capturing or redirecting existing web traffic to the newest version of pages and content when they changed was not allowed for either.
Finally in 2008, the reigns were taken off and RVHWD was instructed to “Clean it up and make it work right!” The client was busy, tired, confused and frustrated by the entire process; it was then that it was decided that the entire web site would be developed from the ground up, using images from the purchased web template and complying to W3C standards as well as good SEO practices. And for about three weeks, the client chomped at the bit, anxiously wanting to see what the new product was going to look like.
The new site was developed utilizing a content management system and development of a custom theme based upon the default WordPress 3.x template available at that time. The template was completed using PHP, XHTML, CSS, Flash, XML and JScript. It looked almost identical to the existing web design of the site, but had page load speeds greatly reduced to less than three seconds for most content. Tools that come standard with WordPress were expanded even further with the use of plugins and the results were a very happy client with more web traffic and customers.
This project also included some audio and video editing, streaming media, social media content, a live-help customer service feature, WordPress/theme modification and of course, search engine optimization as well as key-wording of site copy.
The client liked the end product so much, RVHWD was also contracted to design banner ads, business cards and a trade show display as well. Keeping things uniform, a common branding was established with these products as well, assisting with a consistently clean and professional visual message for potential customers. The results were very positive across the board!
- Web Hosting: RVHWD Advanced Package
- Cost of Project: $4,750.00
- HTML/XHTML, CSS, PHP, Flash, XML, JScript, WordPress
- Photo Gallery, Testimonials, streaming audio & video
- Custom WordPress Theme, social media, SEO