Relaunch of undpaul website

 

We did it. Drupal shops and other website companies are sometimes very fast in creating a new site for a client. But not so with their own website. It took us about half a year from initial idea to launch - guess this was pretty good.

We wanted a new design and we wanted a better structure, and of course we wanted to present ourselves better to potential customers and everyone else that visits our site at undpaul.de. Apart from some blog posts, the site is all German at the moment, but we are working on it.

The spark of conception

We thought about what makes undpaul special, and quickly realized: it is the people. All members of our company are very active in the community - and of course nice people you would like to make the acquaintance of :). So how about putting the people out in the open? The idea was to create a slideshow of big photos of us on the top of the front page. Darn, we did not have the photos. So hire a photographer and off we went to the studio. We were lucky to know someone who was good at people shots. The surprising thing was - we were done in under two hours and had a lot of great shots.

It was a lot of fun rotating onto the photo stage in several rounds and being shot in all our - ehm - glory. I can recommend the trip to the photographer to everyone, you might find out you can look better than you thought. Now we are able to present a shot of every team member along with a statement about their personal area of work or thoughts about Drupal to directly address the viewer.

Presenting your work showcases right

showcases-undpaul.pngWhat is the most interesting part of a webdesign shop for the client? Probably the sites the webshop has built to prove its competence. We wanted to highlight the best and create an easy navigation through the rest. So we tagged every sample in different categories and created multiple Views and slideshows to easily navigate through the showcases. This is a work in progress and feedback on how it works are very welcome. Jcarousel and Views Slideshow are great Views plugins for slideshows, especially Views Slideshow has great options that make almost everything possible.

Upgrading to Drupal 7

Our old site was running on Drupal 6 and this was a great chance to collect some experience in upgrading a site with a lot of CCK fields, comments, images and stuff. The upgrade went smoothly in general, but we had to touch a lot of things manually: Formatters get lost, so you have to rework views, image styles still get lost so you have to recreate them, text areas lose their input formats (might be fixed by now). Loads of stuff, some of which we still did not file issues of (shame on us). But in the end - having all our content transferred to Drupal 7 was worth the ride. Working in Drupal 7 - ah, like a breath of fresh air.

Fun with CSS3

This is the modern web. We do not have to limit ourselves to Helvetica, Times and Verdana. So we wanted a cool header font. Having found out that @font-face works perfectly well, I looked out for a nice font. After some experimenting and finding out that a cool font is not automatically one that looks good on the web we settled on Yanone Kaffesatz. But as this is a bit over-used on the web, we chose the light variant, which you do not see as often. Comminication about how that looks revealed something interesting (no secret really): Anti-aliasing makes thin fonts look a lot bolder on Mac that it does on PC. So find a size that looks good on both...

Box-Shadow is easy in modern browsers. Not so in IE - including IE8. In the end (and since our dropshadow Jquery plugin strangely did not work anymore) we settled on using IE's native shadow filter . The filter works perfectly well after some getting used to it. Alas, it has one drawback... It creates extra padding for all the shadows you add to elements. So conditional stylesheets for IE and all elements that have shadows on them. I doubt I will do that again :(. Rather search longer for a better script...

Putting it all together

The feedback we get to the site is quite encouraging. The personal touch we wanted to add appears to get across to the visitor. Having used some modern techniques may have been a learning experience partly, but hopefully has added a spark here and there. The site is very much a work in progress and more areas need work and the entire thing needs more content.
All in all it was and is a very rewarding experience to work on a site and being able to closely follow your own vision and ideas. A bit like decorating a great new flat and being able to use the best materials and furniture. What could be nicer?