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. 

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. 

It has been a long time since I last blogged so I thought I would catch everyone up on my life!

For the first time since I was 10 I went skiing in March with Mark's family. I was forced to take a ski lesson but after a few hours I felt like I had learned everything I needed to know. 1. STOP 2. TURN 

We stayed on the mountain at Crested Butte, Colorado which was an amazing experience. I had a few falls and one major wipe out but I didn't break my knee like Stevie did!

While I was in Colorado I visited University of Colorado, Western Athletic Conference and University of Denver. It was great to finally meet some clients that we don't get to see face to face. I loved watching the basketball games but more important the food in Denver was amazing!

Once I got home from Colorado I had a few days in the office then I headed off to California with Dustin and Stevie.

We had so much fun at UC Riverside and loved every moment in California. I had never been to California before so a few things shocked me as we landed. First was the smell of California which I later learned was the cow field next to the joke. Second was the people in California do not follow the law when it comes to driving. Crossing over five lanes of traffic in California was quite an experience! I believe Dustin, Stevie and myself all bonded on that trip.

Now that I have been in town for a few weeks it is now time to visit some family. My sister is going to have a baby in June and I am going down to Auburn, Alabama to help her set up the room. While I am in Alabama I will be stoping by Auburn University and Georgia State to visit clients on the opposite coast. 

The next few months are busy with weddings, staff retreats, NACMA, and a new baby! It is going to be an amazing time!

Thats all for now! Enjoy! 


What's up, everybody?

My name is Dane. I'm a father, jazz musician, designer and intern extraordinaire - but you probably know me through my various interactions with or having to do with the pop machine here at Old Hat HQ. If not, go ahead and get acquainted:

Yeah, that aired on local television.

One can see how I might not be the hugest fan of the office pop machine. But I understand that the blame for my predicaments can not fall squarely on the shoulders of an inanimate object. Surely, in the twenty some-odd hours I spend here every week boxing gnomes and posting videos of my slow but steady demise, I could find the time to stock the pop machine. But listen, there is a physical limit to the amount of soda you can fit in one machine, and it is far exceeded by my boss's daily lust for Diet Dr. Pepper. Some close to the situation have said that it's impossible for a mere mortal, given the tools I have been, to adequately satiate Zac's obsession with those 23 flavors. And I'm inclined to agree. Truly, I have never seen anything quite like it. It's as though some wizard at Dr. Pepper used a map of Zac's taste buds to complete his cauldron of calamitously addictive carbonation.

So you can imagine my initial fear when the soda machine was found to have destroyed all Zac's DDP this morning.

When the pop machine runs out, and I have to get sprayed in the face with Dr. Pepper- it's too hard to blame myself. And it's too easy to blame Zac's rampant DDP consumption. The pop machine is the perfect scape-goat, and this morning's debauchery (cleaned up by yours truly) should keep the office on my side for at least a week. Pop machine fail. Intern win.





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