So we've been talking for several months about the next phase of our lucidus.net site. It had been around for more than a year and was looking a bit long in the tooth. Moreover, it was on Drupal 5 and needed to be brought current. However, as with every cobbler, our children were not getting new shoes when customers were ready to pay. That led us to an interesting approach that would help us put our money where our mouth is.
A key advantage to Drupal (or any content management system) is the opportunity to freshen it over time without having to completely pull the tree up by the roots and replant. In our case, the lucidus.net site was a mess under the covers. It was our place to experiment with new modules and approaches and had become a bit messy over the past two years. If there were a place that we could definitively prove the viability of the system over time (and different approaches), it would be definitely be our own site.
To that end, we have begun a process with the following objectives:
- Improve the site 10% at a time
- Show continuous monthly improvement
- Do NOT cut the tree and replant
- Apply lessons learned and best practices we've developed over time with Drupal
We've completed phase 1 which was to freshen the theme of the system. Believe it or not, the new look is the same theme as the old with some tweaks to the stylesheet and page.tpl.php files. So far, we have implemented the following improvements:
- Core navigation is easier to understand ("What We Do" vs. "Solutions") and look a bit more current. We also broke the primary navigation into two pieces to make "About Us", "What We Do" and "Our Work" easier to find.
- Phone number is much easier to find
- Added a "News" page link for current items
- Added "Our Work" which is a portfolio/clients page. (This will tweaked soon as we need to link to the projects and provide more screenshots but didn't want perfection to get in the way of "much improved")
- Added footer blocks that put news, blog entries and contact info at the bottom of each page. This improves SEO and also makes it easy to find for users without overwhelming the interface.
This was all done with a minimum of effort and the transition from old to new was (almost) effortless. Stay tuned for more improvements in January.