We're super excited to be starting a new series of features that's all about how local agencies do what they do. This month, we got ahold of Littlefield's new site the just launched for DitchWitch.com and spoke with Interactive Director Steve Roop who gave us the inside scoop.
Tulsa Egotist: What was the client's initial brief?
Steve Roop: DitchWitch.com was getting long in the tooth, and they wisely felt like it was time to freshen the site up and incorporate some modern website features and elements that have arisen since the last site was built. An emphasis on the brand’s new "We're In This Together" campaign—featuring dealers, operators and customers—was also desired.
TE: What were the largest design challenges with this project?
SR: Ditch Witch has a ton of great photography that we didn't really feel was getting its due on the old site. Putting these great product shots (shout out to Amatucci Photography) front and center was an early goal.
We’ve also grown a loyal and rabid fan base on social media that practically "bleeds orange", so stronger incorporation of social media elements and discussions was a no-brainer—we wanted to leverage some of that engagement on the main site. And, of course, Ditch Witch's mobile usage has been growing at a rapid rate the last 18 months, so getting ahead of this trend with a responsively designed site played into early planning.
TE:What were the largest design challenges with this project?
SR: We were moving a site with thousands of pieces of content from a less-than-backend-friendly system (Ektron) into Drupal—plus adding five translations for most of that content. Let's just say the man hours involved in getting these things better configured from how they were will greatly benefit everyone involved moving forward. Drupal was key to that.
We're still rethinking and reworking some site elements—evolving them I should say—as new features with third parties come online. That's one of the nice things about working as closely as we do with Ditch Witch, we're never really done with their online properties, which helps keep ideas and opportunities fresh. They're a great client to collaborate with. This was a big job, no doubt, but we're usually working on several online tasks for them at once as well, just always moving.
TE:You guys used Drupal as a CMS to create an immersive responsive experience - what was the decision behind using Drupal / responsive?
SR: The previous iteration of DitchWitch.com was built in Ektron. For all the developers out there who have worked in this system (or are currently), we know your pain. Seems like the Ektron showed up in Tulsa about six years ago and sold their system like a door-to-door vacuum salesman (sucking product implication intended). It was everywhere and seemed like a good idea at the time, so I can understand how developers and people would buy into it.
Things have thankfully changed online since then. So, getting away from that system into a free, open source and modern environment like Drupal was important. In my opinion, that's just how you do websites in 2013. Paying for a license? 2004 called, they want their code back.
Responsive design was, likewise, an easy call. Mobile usage across the web was rising, DitchWitch.com's mobile usage was rising. Easy. It also helps us more elegantly manage content and user experience across various platforms by keeping everything under one roof, so to speak.
TE:What was one important lesson learned?
SR: Languages and translations online are not to be trifled with. We used a third party to provide translations for the site, but there are lots of logistics involved to make that happen. I would definitely handle that a bit differently on the backend on a second go-around; it's a big task.
TE:What's the goofiest thing that was suggested for this project?
SR: There wasn't really anything too goofy that came up. Like I said, we've worked with Ditch Witch a long time and they're a great client; we're all on the same page in that regard.
If anything goofy came up during our design and development phases, it was probably something I suggested with the menu layout or such that my team wisely got me back on target with. We've got a good process and collaboration model here at Littlefield, and a team of talented designers and developers that makes my job much easier and the end product much stronger.
For more on Littlefield brand developement, visit their website here
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