Redeveloping a 7 Year Old Website

I recently had the great pleasure of doing something most people would consider a nightmare. Many years ago, when I still was working on sites in high school, I worked on a website for a banquet and reception hall in my hometown of Salem, Indiana, where I still lived at the time. It looked like this when I was done:

It’s nothing great by today’s standards, but at the time I was pretty impressed. At the time, it was my favorite site from my standpoint because I felt like I had some really good work for a great client and they were happy, too. However, the owners of the business retired and the business changed hands and we all parted ways.

The new owners did a poor job of maintaing the site and what they did maintain try to update, they broke.

Some 7 years later, the previous owners have taken the business back and they came back to me to have it updated. Lots of things changed in 7 years, though. For one, I had moved and I don’t charge the same rates I did when I was 16. The site was lagging in that it was built using tables, an old analytics engine, no interactivity, no search engine optimization or anything remotely resembling standard today.

The problem was pretty plain and simple: they needed the website updated and they wanted it done cheaply. Plus, they wanted a Content Management System (CMS) installed, too, so they could make their own changes.

My problems were pretty simple, too: redesign the site with CSS and valid HTML, include some search engine optimization techniques (like Heading tags and better page titles) and throw in a CMS per their request.

Those things were somewhat incompatible, though. Mostly because including a CMS, while redesigning the site, and doing it cheaply is hard to do. We’re basically re-making the entire website and it’s hard to keep costs super low when you’re starting over.

But, that’s what we did. I re-developed the site using new standards, threw in a CMS and it turned out pretty well. The content and page hierarchy was largely un-changed, and many of the photos were still applicable (I did drop the cheesy stock photos), so some of the hard work was already done. The clients were happy and they got a bill that didn’t even include a comma.┬áThe new site came out looking like this. You can also view it online at www.cornerstonehall.com.

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