- by Julia Rauch
aiticon is a cutting-edge technology company which, among others, develops highly modern, responsive websites - for its customers. Where our own website is concerned, the scheduled relaunch had to give way to more pressing projects time and time again. Years passed. Until, finally, last winter, we had enough: the website you are looking at right now was created.
When the old www.aiticon.de initially went online, it was, for all intents and purposes, chic. Since its last modernization in 2007, though, a lot has happened in the web-world. Finally, aiticon-boss Matthias Herlitzius had enough - too much three-column-design, too little responsiveness. Now, we aiticon people have abundant competencies - design, though, is not among them. Nice shapes and colors, this is what we gladly delegate. So, Mr. Herlitzius went looking for a designer - in fact, explicitly not one that had been working with aiticon for a long time, explicitly not an ol' pal. He wanted something fresh. Thus, after a few detours, he came up with Gavin Johnson in London.
A stroke of design luck
After the first briefing in the UK and Gavin's first drafts, one thing was obvious: This was a stroke of sheer luck. Modern, but not hip, chic, but not pompous, simple, but not plain - just as we want to present ourselves - this is how the website became. What you are looking at right now is practically a precise adaptation of Gavin's first layouts. What an ordinary person sees when looking at a website - pretty little pictures and some text - obviously is just a small part of the work.
Technical realization was executed like a totally normal IT project, just like any of those that aiticon has done so far. Gavin Johnson and Matthias Herlitzius had already agreed on the "screen blueprint", meaning how to arrange all the elements on the page, by means of wireframes; his ideas about how to realize optical and functional effects, Gavin had demonstrated in static click dummies. Thus, everything was perfectly ready for Verzhiniya Kostadinov from our web development department.
Other than many "old school" designers, Gavin had not provided us with Photoshop files, but rather with vector graphics, just like those needed for responsive sites - with this process, Gavin follows the trend towards developing websites strictly within the browser. Thus, it was Mrs. Kostadinovs job to analyze the individual drafts using Adobe Illustrator and, suitably extracted, place them at her colleague Juri Zukovskij's disposal.
"I really liked the layout's looks - I was particularly impressed with how professionally Gavin had done his job. For example, Icons like the Facebook- and Twitter-Link-Buttons were already implemented as characters within a font, which made it much more suitable when it came to scalability than a Sprite graphic, for instance", the Bulgarian-born specialist explains.
Mr. Zukovskij then went ahead with the realization in HTML5. In doing so, he decided not to use frameworks such as Bootstrap or Foundation. "As a matter of principle, I write my HTML myself. This leaves me more flexible in case of any change requests that might appear afterwards", the experienced developer explains. Manual HTML, of course, requires meticulous planning - which functionalities should there be, which elements are to be nested in what manner. "After the phase of planning, I wrote the HTML, step by step and element by element. The base page, the base elements, then the content elements", he says. Plus, going without frameworks results in much slimmer code.
At the same time, responsiveness was developed and tested - mobile optimization was implemented during the process of HTML development, as, naturally, www.aiticon.com is fully responsive, meaning it automatically adapts to the respective end device. In doing so, Mr. Zukovskij is not an advocate for the "mobile first" approach. His starting point was the desktop version.
An important milestone in Mr. Zukovskijs work were the so called click dummies, meaning static HTML sites, which all of us other colleagues set their eyes on for the first time.
A rather small project
Concerning time and effort, this project, obviously, was nothing major for our experienced developers - our customers' projects usually are way bigger and more complex, after all. Still - lots of passion lies with the own "baby".
Visual and technical realization were done, what was missing was "just" the content. For this, Matthias Herlitzius had decided against external help - and, instead, hired my humble self. In seemingly endless meetings, he let me, the trained newspaper editor lacking any significant industry-specific knowledge, in on every aspect that is aiticon. Why not choose someone from the industry, you might ask? Well, our goal was to produce, wherever possible, texts that are understandable to the general public - that, at the same time, do not rehash impersonal marketing agency talk. See for yourself if we succeeded - and tell us if we didn't!
A beneficial deadline
Internal projects tend to fall through the cracks of urgent customer demands - and thus, it was quite helpful that we had set ourselves a definitive deadline: In March, we took part in a major industry conference - and we were very eager to not have to invite those who visited our booth to our old website. Thus, www.aiticon.com went live on March 23rd, 2015 - needless to say that the site runs on our own infrastructure within our data center, is edited using OpenText Web Site Management and, of course, it utilizes our PaaS application platform appNG as a runtime environment. We do love our proverbial "own dogfood", after all!