It is Super Fan 5k time here in Norman. If you are reading this blog you probably already have seen something about the 5k but it is finally here!!
When Zac first announced that he wanted to change to a 5k from Humayliation, I was excited.Mostly because thiswas painful.I have never had half of my face go numb like that without involving a trip to the dentist.On top of that, it turns out I am a little allergic to the grass wherever we filmed that video.Add in the pain of jumping in the air and landing on your back, I was happy to have to run a little for charity this year instead.
Setting something like this takes a lot of work and preparation. Kelby has led our efforts to put this event on and she has done a great job. Initially, I thought I would run the 5k, but I wont. I will be taking photos of the event as Old Hat’s third string photographer. When everyone that has talent is gone, they turn to me. I am excited to do it and I am excited for the race to be here.
Giving back in some way or another is something I love about Old Hat. Ironically, I am not a fan of being on websites or filming myself and posting it online. I try to keep a tight lid on what gets out on the interwebs about me. When I applied for Old Hat, Zac asked if I used Facebook. He asked because he could not find me on Facebook and it would be a part of my job. I keep my account locked down as much as possible. When Robert tagged me at a restaurant in North Carolina, I almost un-friended him and then quickly logged on to undo what he had done. I am not trying to hide; I am just not one to broadcast my life to the world. The point of this rambling is that when it comes to giving back, I do not even think about it. I ran for an hour on a treadmill last week, broadcasting my receding hairline to the world but really did not care. I am not near as entertaining as Zac, Robert, or Tricia but I wanted to do it to help out even if I bored the audience to tears. Twenty years from now, there will still be a video of my failed attempts to be a real soccer player and embarrassing myself online but I do not care because of what Old Hat is doing to help those in need.
The Super Fan 5k is raising money for Norman Public School Foundation and the Mary Abbott House. Both are great causes and the money is definitely going somewhere that it is needed. We are still accepting donations so if you have not managed to get to Norman for the race, go to http://superfan5k.org/donate and help Old Hat support two great causes. And who knows, after this weekend we may have a few more embarrassing videos to put online.
Know what's difficult? Running a business. Raising children is tough, sure. But the results of your failures aren't quite as immediate. If you screw up in raising your kids, you probably won't realize it until they're meth addicts or shooting at people from a clock tower. Running a marathon is difficult. But it's difficult for 18 weeks leading up to it and then for 4 hours during (or if you're a complete stud like me, 3 hours and 35 minutes). Running a business is always difficult. It never gets easy. No matter how well things are going, there are always new challenges. Back me up here, Trip Durham! And if you screw up, people lose their jobs. If you screw up BIG, you lose everything.
One of those difficulties we face every year is how to be properly prepared for the onslaught of "busy season" for the upcoming year. Right now we're in our "dead season" which doesn't mean that we don't have lots to do. It just means that compared to August, September and October, the spring months are a breeze. But Old Hat has been around for 9 years and each year we have seen exponential growth in the amount of work that we have coming in. And it seems like each year we are understaffed through those busy months. What I am faced with each spring is making sure that we are properly staffed for that time period but not OVERstaffed. We don't want to be put in a position where we have to lay-off someone after the busy season ends because we don't have enough work. We also have to decide when to bring in new people in order to train them and have them ready for busy season. If we hire too soon, we're putting money toward an unnecessary payroll expense for someone that doesn't have anything to do. If we hire them too late, busy season comes and they aren't properly prepared. So every May/June, we have to decide who we're hiring, how many people we're hiring and when to bring them on. Hire too many and we spend too much on payroll and profits suffer. Hire too few and everyone is miserable all fall because they're working too much.
Growing is painful at times. And even though you can analyze past successes and failures, study your numbers, etc... it's all just a big guessing game. Sometimes I guess right and sometimes I guess wrong. I've gotten better at it over the years but last year we had the biggest jump in growth we'd ever had and there was no way to know it was coming. It seems to have just happened. Do I prepare this year for that level of growth? Or do I prepare for what we had typically done in prior years? Or is this the year where it all levels out and we hardly grow any?
With Russell Westbrook sidelined with a knee injury, Old Hat Web decided to step up its game for the playoff season with the launch of two new sites. No this post really has nothing to do with Russell or the Thunder, besides me just being a big fan. The first site is obviously the one you are currently on, the Old Hat Creative website.
Much custom programming went into this site to get our CMS (Content Management System) to filter our work in a new way. I feel that with this new redesign of our site, the Old Hat website has grown up. I was going to write a lot more about this site, until we launched a new flagship last night.
Enter the Kyle Field site. Texas A&M's football field is getting a make over and the 12th Man Foundation came to us to deliver an awesome website. Not to brag too much, but I feel we knocked this one out of the park. Design-wise I feel that these last two sites are some of the best designed sites we have made thus far. Programming-wise… well just check out "The Vision" page on the site from a desktop browser and see for yourself.
Lots of prep went into the Kyle Field launch, from file compressions to server configurations specifically for high traffic sites. As the time got closer to the launch anticipation was building. Reports from the client that people were already hitting the site that wasn't even announced yet… Of course all they got was a nice password protection box, but you could feel the excitement in the air. Then to see ESPN talking about the renovations just got us that much more amped up. We got the call and turned the site live. Nothing really prepared us for what happened next.
The second the site went live, 100's people were already on it. Within the first few minutes google analytics just skyrocketed. Here are some compiled screen shots of active users on the site.
The site was spreading around the world.
We were kind of sad to see it flat-line at around 2200 active users per minute. Don't get me wrong, that number is awesome, just watching it climb in real time was exciting and to see that our CMS was holding up to the task. A bit later we got word from the hosting team about the real number of hits they were receiving. This number just is unreal. From the period of 5pm-6pm the average number of requests per second to the server was… (drum row please)
In all my years of website building, I have never had a site with so many hits. It is still hard to get my head around that number.
I am extremely proud of the success of the site and our web team here at Old Hat. It makes the many long hours on the nights and weekends leading up to this event that much more rewarding.
Then to add to this, I came in this morning to find there are still over 500 active users on the site. And just a few minutes ago it spiked all the way back up to 2300 active visitors after someone tweeted about it.
This just goes to show you how promoting an event can really add to your site's success. It will definitely go in to our record book as a Site to Remember.
Now we are a day later(5/3/2013) in the process and wanted to let you know where the site sits.
111,148 unique visitors!!
80,000 views to the video on the home page!
198,913 pageviews in about two days of having a live site!
My life literally revolves around websites, well at least my work life. Everything we do is working towards our next project. The processes we have built are setup to make us better at our job. The funny thing to me is we established the processes based on websites we have built for everyone but Old Hat Creative. Now it is time to build a site for Old Hat…
Project Initiation: To me this was the most interesting aspect of building our new site.The last Old Hat site was completed before I worked for the company, before a lot of the people who now work here were here.Everyone who has any stake in the site, had an opinion about what it needed or did not.Features that were important (Random Animal Noises) and those that were not (I know he is disappointed but we did remove the Date with Geoff from our store).My job going into this is to be able to listen to what everyone wants and turn it into what everyone needs.Each division needs the website for a different reason and all of Old Hat needs it for the same reason.
Information Gathering: At this point we have heard a generalized description of what everyone wants.We know what is most important as a whole but need to drill down to why.Why does our CMO want to be able to send people directly to a page with our entire on site photo shoots?Why does my developer want to change the way we input and organize our client list?Why does Zac love those animal noises?
Within each change there is a goal that someone has in mind. My developer wants to change how clients are organized. Our CMO wants to be able to market easier. She wants to have a list of products we have easily accessible with quality images that explains why YOU might need that product. She wants us to be able to sort everything we do, quickly and easily. Zac really just likes animals… I guess.
As I mentioned before each request has an end goal. We may not always be able to give them exactly what they want but we can give them what they need. Maybe we do not give each product a page but give each page a sorting option. Allow people to pick and choose how they want to sort things so they can easily find the examples of products they need. Change the way we input content and clients so it is easier to build the database to hold all of that information.
Presentation of Concepts: Now that I have listened to everyone, it is time to start building this out.Dustin is incredibly important in all of this.He is THE web designer and had the opportunity to listen to what everyone wanted as well.He now has to turn all of these requests into something pretty.
This is where decisions start to get made and requests start to get culled. Some things are over kill. Why do we need to link to twitter four times and have a feed on the home page? Dustin is great at visualizing the site as we have these conversations and always produces something amazing. Unfortunately, his amazing design is not the end of the road because regardless of what he designs it still has to function. After he completes every design we sit down with our developers and walk them through how we envision the functionality.
This is the part of the process where there is the most give and take. We want it to look this way but it will hurt the functionality. Developers think in terms of programming and functionality, not always design. Development is always a chore and we want to make sure the design we use makes sense to the users, while functioning like everyone needs it to. In the end however, this is a project that we all get excited about. Rarely do we get the opportunity where our developers can do fun things. If you are reading this blog, you know Old Hat and you know that we have fun but a site like this is fun because it challenges our team. It gives them the opportunity to do something they never get to do and if there is a new programming technique that most website budgets cannot afford; they might get the chance to do it. Our developers always want to do something awesome but some times they have to be realistic.
Every website is different. No matter what, there is some different aspect that will change with each site. This is a big reason why we use Drupal. It is an open source CMS and allows our developers to build custom modules or take existing ones to make changes.
After the brainstorming, the planning, and debating it is time to present the first drafts of the site to everyone involved.
Revisions: I have a love/hate relationship with this step in the process.We talked with the stakeholders about what they wanted and planned for their requests.In a perfect world, we nail it, and there are no revisions.Pigs also fly, there are never tornados in Oklahoma, and Robert’s hair looks like that as soon as he wakes up.
Back to reality, there are always revisions, usually, about two rounds of revisions. Everyone has a vision of what their requests will look like and those visions may not match Dustin’s. Sitting down with the stakeholders at this point is good for everyone. We will walk them through the design, explain the functionality, and make sure we have included the important elements. Once we go over it, we take their revisions and go back to Photoshop.
Production of Deliverables: After we have concluded the revisions stage and have received the design approval, it is time to start programming.Before we start programming we usually sit down with the developers to map out how we will program the site.Talk about what aspects are most important and look at the time frame we have.
Programming for most websites is a four-week process. Programming for the new Old Hat site has been a seven-week process. Typically other projects come up in the middle and our developers have to bounce around but big projects always mean someone may be working on the same site for the next two months.
Once we finish the initial build it is time to start testing. There are entirely too many web browsers available. Of course there are the major players; IE, FF, and Chrome but then there are many other obscure browsers out there. We only test the two most recent versions of the major browsers. Fonts render differently in each browser. There are a few standards but you never know what IE is going to present you with. There is a reason you will NEVER catch a developer using IE. We still have to look at the site on different computers, browsers, and devices to make sure it looks good. We also have to go through the entire site on those other browsers to make sure the important content is available no matter how you look at the site.
Once the testing is done and we have checked for other errors we send the link to the client and have them go through the site. This usually causes us to go into another testing phase as we try to recreate any issues the client is seeing on their end.
Delivery (TODAY!!): Old Hat Interactive mostly delivers its products to the web.Launch day can be both exciting and nerve racking.Typically, I wake up at least once in the middle of the night before launch day, worried about some aspect of the site I forgot or we did not build.It is always a challenge to keep myself from calling a developer.That is part of the excitement of launch day.We get to help our clients display a new website to the world.Something we built will be visited by 100’s of people that day and our work will be tested throughout that time.We work with our clients to determine a time for the launch and make sure everything is setup properly.
Today we launch the new Old Hat site. It has definitely been a process. In the end we created something that should help everyone on our staff as well as our clients. Take a look around, see what you can find, and let us know what you think.
Lent is the time of year between Ash Wednesday and Easter, when many Christians prepare for the Easter season by making some sort of sacrifice in their personal lives. The Lent season last 40 days, not including Sundays, and ends on Easter. Many give up things like coke or alcohol, others go out of their way to try and do something nice for others, and then there are those of this new trend.
I have noticed many friends and family members of mine giving up Facebook, or social media all together, for the 40 days. The biggest question I have is will they return to Facebook after the Easter season? If they do will they check it less often then they did before Lent? Will this trend continue in the future?
Another trend that is happening in the Facebook world, and not related to any religion, is one of people unfriending others. You have hundreds of friends on Facebook, but how many of them do you really talk to? People are moving back to the basics, and unfriending people they do not talk to regularly.
Twitter on the other hand seems to be more resistant to this trend, as people already choose who they want to follow. You don't have to be friends with them. You can read their posts and if they choose so, they can follow you back. I tend to view Twitter as the Entertainment channel on tv, but where you get to choose which celebrities you want to keep up with. And if one thing is for sure about many Americans, it's that they love their celebrities and all the drama of their daily lives.
As it seems that more and more people are moving away from social media, how will marketers and advertisers find new ways to reach out to their client bases in the future? Maybe more celebrity endorsements on twitter, will be the answer. Only time will tell.