Acuvic Websites

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Launching This Site

Last updated on June 28th, 2017 at 11:59 pm

It is always important that if you are launching a company whose main purpose is  put other companies onto the internet, your own site must be “leading edge”.

But to become a perfectionist leads to “analysis paralysis” with slipping completion dates and deadlines being missed. Hence a fast launch of this site was intended.

To achieve this, certain factors were leveraged to get the site launched in two weeks! Please note that the planning was started more that three months ago. The factors are:

  • WordPress is used (of course)
  • A one page, or “flat” site plus a blog
  • A page-builder is used for speed
  • Enough relevant information for a decision to enquire further

Yet we could not skimp on the technology and performance either. Here are the non-negotiable design specifications:

  • Must be fast loading
  • SEO optimised
  • Has to look modern and easy on the eyes
  • Good use-ability ( this changes as users become more savvy)
  • Must use https to help ranking and future e-commerce

So with such demanding goals, we set out to build this website. To start of, we decided that a local development environment would be useful. This help with the speed of development as the lag of the internet is eliminated. If you use fiber-optic broadband and a high spec’ed VPS or dedicated server, you could arguably get away without local site development. However, the WAMP package was already being used locally so it was simply loaded with a new WordPress install.

Then the branding needed to be established. With Google being so sensitive to duplicate content, we decided that an own logo (rather than stock) was needed. An SVG image was used to develop with vector based editing so that different sizes could be produced without image degradation.

A lot of time was spent on the presentation too. Modern CSS allows easing in of some content and parallax scrolling and a certain amount was needed. This is to “show off” what leading edge designs can achieve. But a balance need to be struck when it came to content animation – remember the times when blinking website content used to be the rage? Ugh!

Colour schemes are important to make things easy on the eyes. We are used to seeing colour in nature and many years of evolution has built in our need for harmonious “eye candy”. The main thing is to avoid “fashionable” schemes that are visually impractical. This also includes the rising wave of ridiculously small text sizes and light text colour that has little contrast with the white background. Asking a senior person to assess your site helps curb the younger developer’s enthusiasm for passing trends!

Plugins need to be chosen carefully as they can conflict with each other. For example Autoptimize plugin will break the page-builder interface but can be fully activated for when the site is finished. Just have to remember this when any edits are required. Also the website speed “hit” caused by the page-builder can be compensated for by using a cache plugin.

Lots of testing is also required. We found that while the site header on Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge (and Internet Explorer) was spot-on, Firefox badly mangled our header logo. Firing up the browser developer tools showed that it did not obey the re-size parameters on the image markup (we never researched which browser was disobeying the W3C standards). The direct solution was to regenerate the image at the exact pixel size that we needed. And then the Autoptimize plugin which had worked very well in previous projects, actually slowed our site loading when used here. This might be because we are already optimising javascript and css, some happening on the server-side. Yet another surprise was when our favourite security/caching plugin broke the site. We’ve written a blog about this. And of course testing on various view-ports (responsiveness) was carried out. What helped was that the Live Composer page builder had a facility to specifically change the website elements’ css for different devices.

So at some point during the business of developing and testing on the local staging platform, and although perfection had not been reached, we loaded the site onto a live host. We were battle-hardened enough to know that perfection on the staging medium would still mean more hacking on a live server. So we continued the development “live”. Many devs are scared of developing live, and this is well warranted in cases of e-commerce, well-established (read: many visitors) or heavily interactive sites. But in our case of a brand spanking new site with no Google listing, developing while being on public show was perfectly possible. In fact while these words are being written, the finishing touches are still being foisted onto Acuvic Websites!

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