Building a better website

As you may have noticed, Gaia Resources has a brand new website. I thought I’d take the opportunity to collate some information from the various people involved in bringing the concept into reality.

The concept of the new website pre-dates my employment with Gaia Resources, however not really much was done about it until a couple of months ago. I believe the conversation was something along the lines of the following:

  • Mel: The website looks terrible.
  • AJ: Well do you think you could do better?
  • Mel: Yep.
  • … half a hour later AJ receives an email with a bunch of concept art.
  • AJ: Wow!
  • It looks like she really could do better!

From that point, Ben (K) was enlisted into the team to do all the heavy lifting on the website work. Due to the dynamic components of the website, we decided that it would be good to use a full blown web application framework, and Django was selected as we have experience in it, it’s fast to develop, and of course, it’s opensource!

Here’s what Mel and Ben had to say about the process:

Mel :The team were in agreement that the old website was getting a bit old, with images and content needing to be desperately revised and updated.  It had served us well but it was time for a new design, one to reflect our capability profile and business cards layouts.  So the challenge began.  It has been a collaborative effort, with everyone getting a chance to have their say and give ideas on how the new website should look and feel.  It was also a huge learning curve for myself within the web building environment, finally finding out that a pretty design doesn’t transfer well over to the development side (my workmates can vouch for my frustrations after hearing my pained screams from the office all last week, “Why won’t you work in IE!”).  Hopefully the new design is something you will appreciate too.  This of course is just the first revision – we would love to hear your feedback and comments to be able to build an even better version two!

Ben: When I was first asked to redevelop the website and got handed Mel’s awesome design work, my first thought was “Oh no I’ll need to make this work in IE6″. Thank goodness that saner minds prevailed and we only support modern browsers. After that it was just a simple matter of coding it up using Django validating the HTML and CSS using the free online W3C Validators. There were a few highlights including integrating Type Pad AntiSpam with Django to protect our brand new blog/news comment system and integrating with the Twitter API. All in all it was a relatively painless exercise which I think is a testimony to the hard work put in by the Django development team and the general maturation of the web.

So in conclusion, we all hope you enjoy the new website, and look forward to hearing what you have to say about it… which you can do in the comments section below, Jim.

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