We were invited by the the Santa Monica-based creative agency, Mistress, to design and build their company website. They had wireframes, a lot of great projects to showcase, and a very short timeline to build a highly-customized site.
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Their previous site was a custom content management system built using Ruby on Rails. Unfortunately, it had stagnated over the years without a full-stack dev team to support it. Updating content was far too difficult for producers and the design of the site felt heavy and outdated, unlike their company’s creative aesthetic.
Our design strategy was to focus on framing their gorgeous project imagery through a minimalist approach that lets the site fade into the background and the work pop to the foreground.
Our technical solution was to use WordPress for an out-of-the-box CMS that allows easy updates and the ability to leverage existing plugins for added functionality. Additionally, we designed a custom admin area that allows them to quickly monitor site activity without the need to visit Google Analytics. The timeline for this project was short, so we needed to hit the ground running.
Discovery – Early discovery entailed many mood and style explorations as well as thinking about the site from an administrator’s ease-of-use standpoint. How could the tools be as intuitive as possible to update? What existing technologies are out there that we can customize to better meet their needs?
Definition – We solidified the designs, finalized a sitemap, and began pinpointing the specific custom features the site would require. We decided that WordPress would be the best technical solution for the project based on the custom functionality they wanted and the sophisticated admin area the team required.
Development – With our tight schedule, the design and development needed to occur simultaneously throughout the project. Social embeds became a critical part of the experience as we needed to find elegant solutions for Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest within a very flexible case study template. Additionally, SEO was very strong on their old site, so we took the transition very seriously, from development best practices to notifying search engines of the pending migration.
Deployment – While WordPress provides a lot of out-of-the-box functionality, transitioning from Ruby on Rails to a customized WordPress platform meant starting a new dev environment from scratch. Once the platform was developed, we set up a new server and collaborated with their in-house development team for a seamless hand-off of the site with zero downtime.