This website has been a very challenging and rewarding project to undertake.
On a personal level, particularly from a technical aspect, it has also been the most satisfying website I have produced to date. The brief here was to create a platform from which Stream Solutions could promote their series of training courses. Having recently acquired AATC status, official Apple Certification can now be achieved through Stream. Consequently the style of the site should sit comfortably within Apple’s own guidelines, and yet have its own distinct flavour… a “Lenor freshness” was sought, which had been identified by the client in my previous work.
The site also had to be functional as well as stylish. It was imperative that the client be able to update the site regularly themselves. For this reason, once again, WordPress, with its easy to use admin area, is the ideal solution to power the site as a content management system (CMS) and a news stream/blog. So, with the end goal in focus, I set about creating the site.
Step one: Sketching (yes, sketching!). Initial ideas are drawn up on paper, I’m not one of those designers that heads straight for the computer, I’m actually glad to get away from it! Concepts can quickly come to life on the sketchpad and the not-so-good ideas can quickly be dismissed too. After a couple of hours, 2 or 3 sketches have potential for development, so it’s on to the next stage…
Step two: Create homepage mock-ups in Photoshop. As part of my quote I had specified that I would offer 2 different design options. Stream would then make a choice over which style to develop. The chosen design (top right) was preferred to the second option( right). With a few minor adjustments to the layout, we were ready to commence the technical side of the site build.
Step three: Convert website design to HTML with CSS. This is where a fully working mock-up of the website is created. The transition from the design in Photoshop to web browser requires precise planning and attention to detail. Coding the pages by hand and seeing the site literally come to life before your eyes is immensely satisfying. Once the bulk of the pages are ready, the design is presented for sign off by the client and we’re on the home straight.
Step four: Build a WordPress theme from the HTML/CSS. WordPress is essentially a database-driven blogging platform that also has great CMS capabilities, it allows designers, such as myself, to create custom themes that run within this highly-flexible framework. With the HTML approved and robust, the pages are reworked to create a series of WordPress templates, each with specific functions, ultimately creating a unique theme where all elements are editable from within the admin control panel.
Step five: Add content. This is easier said than done sometimes :) it can be a lengthy process, collating text and images, but… once we’re done, we’re ready for launch and handover to the (delighted) client. Yippeee!!!!
The site was launched at the end of January 2011.
As of May 2011, Apple are officially citing Stream Solutions’ Training website as the #1 example to follow for all European Apple Authorised Training Centre Websites.
A rejected visual and the final approved design…
Paulo grasped what we wanted immediately and offered some great tips on how to improve on our idea. He covers everything from SEO to a detailed manual on how to take control of your own site once it’s up and running. He delivers everything you expect and more from a web designer.