There were a myriad of moving parts and priorities that would need to be accounted for on the new website, many of which would be brought forward from the old site and reorganized. In fact, structuring the navigation alone would prove to be a considerable enterprise.
In the end, though, a new design, a new layout, and a new install of the powerful content management system (CMS) Drupal all resulted in a remarkable final product.
Making Sure More Doesn’t Become Just More
Of course, like all great accomplishments, there would be challenges. Working with large school districts and other sizable organizations has taught us a few things. For example, as the volume of content and its intended uses increases, so too does the planning which is required to organize that abundance of information. And this project was no exception.
Before: The Basilica's Old Website
Having so many departments and an immense navigation meant that extra time would be necessary to keep the site simple and digestible for visitors. A great deal of work was put into making the site easier to navigate while keeping the majority of the content intact.
However, wrangling a wealth of content on a desktop website is one thing. Keeping it easy-to-browse and useful for mobile visitors is another.
For that reason it was important from day one that the site be fully responsive (extra “mobile friendly”). Responsive web design can affect a lot of different areas within a project: design elements, content structure, navigation, device testing, and more. Because August Ash kept this at the forefront of our conversations, we were able to overcome the inevitable challenges that arose during development.
Other customized approaches to solving problems in the project included:
- Utilizing a second iteration of our own internal editor that allows for the main content of a page to be created with a custom asset interface. This allows for easy media management and the ability to instantly preview content as it will look on the frontend.
- We also implemented a media system that allows for assets, such as images and videos, to be reused throughout the site.
- Off-canvas menus, which have become more and more popular in the mobile UI world were another outside-the-box approach. This made sense from a usability standpoint because of the sheer amount of navigation items on the site. We used it for the main navigation as well as the sidebar information, and it proved to be a highly effective way to display menu information on smaller devices.
After: The newly redesigned and rebuilt website for The Basilica of Saint Mary
A Carefully Planned Outcome
In the end, AAI was able to deliver multiple features for the Basilica team to control themselves, including photos, slideshows, media, and other content. Every piece of this website is unique to the Basilica of Saint Mary for the purpose of giving them higher levels of administration freedom.
That heightened usability—for both administrators and visitors—combined with a fresh, new look for the design has led to a final product worth celebrating. But it wasn’t a product of chance.
As one person on the August Ash team summarized:
There were many in-depth conversations with the client during our planning and development phase, and these discussions helped shape the direction of the new website. It didn’t take long to discover the individuals on the Saint Mary team were completely invested in creating something great.
This commitment and open communication on the part of Saint Mary’s team not only aided the success of the project overall, but it contributed to a more gratifying one for our team as well. “As a designer-developer on the project, this helped make the process fun and more enjoyable,” added one of AAI’s developers.
The Basilica team, too, had positive feedback upon the launch of the site:
“It has been a lot of fun, and you’ve done a great job quickly handling all of our requests. I really appreciate your quick responses and fixes to the site- sincerely appreciate your hard work.”
Websites are never truly finished. And even when a site like this is launched with an entirely new look and updated functionality, there are always second phases and new ideas just over the horizon.
That’s why AAI has invested heavily over the years, and today more than ever, in our Client Services department. This team within August Ash is dedicated to one purpose only: supporting our customers and their websites all the way into the future.
With this in mind, we encourage you to take a couple minutes to look at your own website and consider your plan for managing it. If you’re not fully confident in that plan—or don’t have one—our team is ready to help. Let us know if you’re ready to take the next step.