Wednesday, March 2, 2011

"Smart People - Smart Business"

Some animals hibernate in winter.  I seem to hibernate in spring.  Not really sleeping, but holing up in a cave working on a big project that is just bursting to get out.  Such was the case with the Dunwoody Chamber of Commerce

With the debut of Dunwoody's branding initiative, all of the marketing materials - including the website - needed an overhaul.  I had originally planned to reevaluate the site's structure and content after about 2 years.  Instead, we had to start looking at an overhaul about 8 months in to the previous design.

The original site was one that I organized, but didn't have much to do with in terms of design.  I was handed a Drupal platform, a pre-selected template, and an assortment of modules and told that I WILL make this work.

Within a few months, the staff were reporting difficulties in making their required content fit the format.  We already needed a different type of layout.  Further, the City Branding Committee had assigned a completely different color scheme to the Chamber's identity.  Because the scenario wasn't complicated enough, the site's very hosting was about to fall through.  So the job was now, host, update architecture, and redesign.

First things first:  SDOC established a new server host.  This happened right before New Year's Eve 2010.
Next, build a layout.  The only guidelines were a standardized style guide issued by the Branding Committee and a new logo.  I was finally free to design the perfect showcase from the ground up!  All of the graphics were custom-made to find the balance between a modern, up-to-date aesthetic while staying true to the intent of the standardized guide.

Finally, additional modules were added for functionality - including custom "block" appearance, custom block placement, ability to host numerous sites at once (compare the Dunwoody Business Expo 2011 site within the site) plus others that are still in the testing phase.

The new site launched officially on February 26 at about 6 PM ET.  From the time I was greenlighted to assume hosting the site to the final launch, I logged about 70 hours on everything, including graphic design, module installation and troubleshooting.

The physical construction of the site was a one-woman show.  The office staff signed off on the project in stages before the big reveal but it was my 10 little fingers doing the work.  Again, the content is mostly turned over to office staff and approved volunteers for updating, while I remain available to the IT Committee for functional updates and inservicing for volunteers.

Come on by!  While you're there, check out the Dunwoody Business Expo.  It's shaping up to be a major event with a lot of people showing their wares, breakout discussion sessions, and award presentations.

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