Size: over 100,000 pages

My professional status: contractor at Optimation

Website client: CreditSights

Dates: November 2009 - December 2011

Categories: Website designer, Front-end developer, CSS-based layout, jQuery/JavaScript, ASP or ASP.NET, Large sites

Brief: CreditSights is based in the US and is a multiple award-winning provider of independent investment research. Their website is accessible by subscription only, and provides subscribers with comprehensive coverage of over 750 of the most widely-traded names in the US and European markets across 40 industries and 7 broadly-defined sectors. CreditSights produce over 300 research reports a month and their archives contain over 100,000 articles. The risk models built by their quantitative research group cover over 8,500 publicly-traded companies.

The CreditSights website needed updating, so Optimation was asked to extend the functionality at the same time as re-skinning the site, following a new design from a US design company. The XHTML/CSS would also be updated, the site would be thoroughly tested, and any browser-related bugs or functionality issues taken care of.

Optimation asked me to undertake a number of tasks in relation to the new website, including developing the design into a series of alternative typeface and colour treatments; an overview and rebuild of some of the XHTML/CSS; bug-fixing and template tweaking sitewide; streamlining some of the backend CMS elements to make them easier for the editors to use; and re-designing & re-styling a number of widgets and elements across the website. The site is built in, so all of my work was done in VisualStudio within the .net environment, working on already-integrated templates.

My responsibilities included:

  • Rebuilding parts of a range of templates in XHTML 1.0 Strict (archive, morning comment, search results, subscriber homepage, company weightings, trial tearsheets, member lookup details, member lookup lists, browse coverage lists, error pages, login, signup, terms & conditions) to ensure cross-browser compatibility and correct functionality
  • Rebuilding various sitewide widgets in XHTML 1.0 Strict (top read analysis, region selector, PDF downloads, welcome message, news & events, worth watching, quick links, sector reports) to ensure cross-browser compatibility and correct functionality
  • Doing a colour audit of the site in order to streamline the range of colours defined in the CSS
  • Creating a set of alternative stylesheets using different colourways and typeface combinations which were shown to the company directors in order that they might choose their preferred option
  • Developing and extending the new site design (which covered a limited number of templates) across all the remaining templates in order to retain design consistency - and completing a design consolidation review at a later stage of the site build
  • Designing the favicon for the website
  • Sourcing and optimising a number of the large hero images in the BondScore section
  • Bug-fixing a range of display issues across a range of templates that had already been integrated into
  • Re-designing, rebuilding and re-styling a range of editor/admin pages in the CMS backend, to make them more intuitive and easier for editing staff at CreditSights to use
  • Re-styling and rebuilding some of the XHTML/CSS by hand to a reasonable level of accessibility within the .net environment using VisualStudio, in order to improve cross-browser compatibility, increase visual and functional consistency across the website, and to ensure that best-practice coding was used wherever possible
  • Incorporating various dynamic graphical effects using jQuery - including tooltips, search focus, and Shadowbox popup styling
  • Extensive testing of my templates, widgets, pages and all new elements at all stages of the development process, ensuring consistency across the following browsers and platforms:
    • PC: Internet Explorer IE6, IE7, IE8; Firefox, Opera
    • Mac: Firefox, Opera, Safari
  • Incorporating some of the pages I had built for the CreditSights Marketing website into the main website, and re-styling these to include the main website's CSS and chrome
  • Ongoing liaison with both Miles Thompson, the CreditSights programmer working onsite at Optimation, and the Optimation dev team, to ensure that my XHTML/CSS work was functioning as expected, and to provide additional designs, XHTML, CSS, jQuery and content graphics as required.

I really enjoyed working on this website with Miles from CreditSights and Graeme Baker from Optimation. They had already done a huge amount of work on the site when I joined the team, and it was my job to tweak things here and there, develop design ideas for them, show them a range of design options, and ensure that the site worked perfectly and looked great in all the browsers on their test list. They are both lovely guys to work with, and it was always a pleasure to spend time with them.

The site was an interesting challenge, partly because it's a huge site already and so there were many elements which needed to be retained within the new design, and also because it's an site built in VisualStudio, which I was also expected to work in. I've done a few VisualStudio sites now, and it's always fun tip-toeing through the jungle of code in order to tweak the XHTML and alter the CSS. It gives me a new perspective on the work that I do!

We got great feedback from the CreditSights team in New York - they really like the new design and the improved functionality, and they've also been getting very positive feedback from their subscribers - which is always good to hear.

I have subsequently been recalled by Graeme and Miles on a number of occasions to do ongoing tweaks to the website design and/or front-end code, as required.