Detail

Morgan Franklin

9th January, 2012 ✭ by Boyink Interactive

This project is becoming an example of a new type of work. It used to be that all my projects were new builds for sites that either didn’t exist or weren’t in ExpressionEngine. More and more I’m seeing jobs like this that aren’t new construction, but rather remodeling of an existing EE site.

What can you tell us about the team that built the new Morgan Franklin website?

The visual design is by Visual Hero. and the front end code is by Ford InteractiveBoyink Interactive did the EE1 to EE2 upgrade, backend restructuring and recoding.  Morgan Franklin set overall project & branding goals, design & functionality feedback, and content entry.

What can you tell us about the site in general? What are the goals of the site and the main audience?

In response to a brand assessment conducted in early 2011, MorganFranklin identified critical updates needed for its corporate website. Changes to architecture and creative were implemented in support of MorganFranklin’s 2011-and-beyond objective to more clearly define the scope and scale of its business, the diversity of services provided, and the range of clients served.

The new content structure puts MorganFranklin’s financial management, performance improvement, and national security solutions and supporting thought leadership activities at the forefront of the audience experience. The site aims to better engage clients and prospects while painting an accurate picture to best answer the question “Who is MorganFranklin?” As the company experienced impressive growth in recent years, it became necessary to refresh this message to establish MorganFranklin as a maturing organization with a strong reputation and credible brand. In addition, the firm wanted to offer a more intuitive site architecture that caters to a time-limited audience eager to consume content on a demanding schedule.

The home page and Insights section feature a cross-sectioning of content from within the site, pulling out various threads that appeal to MorganFranklin’s diverse audience from a wide range of industries including telecommunications, hospitality, financial services, and homeland security. The main navigation was also updated to provide an immediate overview of MorganFranklin solutions as well as one-click access to service descriptions, market narratives, and current government contracts.

What was your major consideration in using ExpressionEngine for this?

The previous version of the site was already on ExpressionEngine and had been for some time. Since there was nothing in the site revision plan that EE couldn’t handle we stuck with ExpressionEngine but did go through the upgrade process to both eliminate now-unnecessary add-ons, get MorganFranklin into the refreshed Control Panel (which they love) and set them up for future development.

Were there any Commercial Add-ons that proved useful? If so, which ones? How did they help?

Several add-ons handled specific challenges in the build:

Modules:

  • SEO Lite for better meta management
  • Wygwam for WYSIWYG editing
  • Deeploy Helper for easing the go-live process

Extensions:

  • MS Cloner for jump-starting content entry

Fieldtypes:

  • Matrix mainly for handling the banner images and text
  • Playa for pulling related sidebar content

Plugins:

  • Listmaker for easing unordered list creation in places where content will always be a list
  • Low Replace solved a problem to get the video player going

In addition to these there was one add-on specifically that the project really hinged on - and that’s Taxonomy. The main reason for this redesign and relaunch was that MorganFranklin changed the way they describe and talk about their business. That change necessitated an information architecture change for the site, which in turn meant that the backend structures holding the content no longer nicely mapped to new site architecture. We wanted to avoid as much content re-working as possible so looked for a way to manage that backend to frontend connection more closely, and Taxonomy fills that role very well. Developer Iain was responsive to my questions and even added some functionality based on my requests.

Did you do any custom add-on development?

No

What is next on the plate for morganfranklin.com? Any additional functionality you can tell us about?

Nothing formal yet.

Do you have any other information you’d like to share with the community? Tips from this project you’d like to share? Lessons you’ve learned?

I’ve blogged about this before, but for me this project is becoming an example of a new type of work.  It used to be that all my projects were new builds for sites that either didn’t exist or weren’t in ExpressionEngine. More and more I’m seeing jobs like this that aren’t new construction, but rather remodeling of an existing EE site. This presents some new challenges over a fresh start and I think those new challenges need to be met with some new functionality, either built into EE natively or through new add-ons.

For one example, take an existing EE site and try to evaluate if all the custom fields are actually being used. It’s not so hard to do one or two fields using the channel:entries search parameter, but it becomes tedious when you have dozens (or hundreds) of fields to look through.

The other interesting aspect of this project is that the development work was done while my family and I were traveling full-time around the USA.  Near as I can calculate the site was built in 21 different states and three time zones.  I’m grateful to MorganFranklin for having the patience to work with a moving target for a web developer… wink

 

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