GCv4: Part 1

30 December 2005

Generation Church is the youth ministry of the City Church, and they’ve been in need of a redesign of their website for quite a while. Last May we put up a temporary website, promising a new, feature-laden website “soon.” This move was designed to both motivate and excite – motivate a forced priority among other projects, and excite visitors of the site. It did the latter just fine, but because of the nature of ministry, priorities seem to shift based on immediate need (not desire); it wasn’t until about a month ago that I was able to really dedicate time and energy to the redesign.

Note: This is the first post of a several post series about this project. If you’re not a web designer/developer/geek and don’t care about such intricacies as relative versus absolute positioning or workarounds for Internet Explorer on a PC, then by all means, skip this and go straight to the meat. The goals for the redesign (realign?) were as follows:

  1. Update look and “feel” of site graphics to reflect the ministry itself
  2. Provide an online destination for GC’ers to get news and announcements about GC
  3. Provide an online destination for followup of watchers of GCTV, the ministry’s local television show
  4. Reinforce the already-popular audio archive by increasing usability and availablity
  5. Introduce new features that are fun and draw repeat visits
  6. Provide an online catalog of small groups for GC’ers to pick and choose from to attend

At least those were the goals I had in my head. Because of the type of project, and the necessity for a quick delivery, the usual formalities (of group discussion, brainstorming, goal setting and mapping, etc.) associated with web design were forsaken – in favor of just getting the thing up. In retrospect I would have liked to have at least clarified some primary goals. Oh well. Live and learn, right?

Without going into detail, once the project finally got off the ground, and I had an approved design comp to work with, I had to develop on the fly; meaning the development portion wasn’t scripted or planned out – it was a constant game of code-test-recode-test-code-test-recode-test-realign-code-test-trash-recode-test, etc. The site took its form in the development, not in the planning. In the end, the time gained by not having a set plan may have been spent in wasteful development. I say may only because many of the hours given towards the project were – let’s just say – not company-time.

The site was created, concept to (quasi) completion, in just over three weeks. Actually, 21 working days, to be exact. I’m still not fully satisfied with portions of the site structure itself, and there’s a lot left to do in terms of database management – not to mention the entire resources (store) section. Still, I’m proud of myself – in a I-can’t-believe-I-got-that-done-in-the-amount-of-time-I-did-it-must’ve-been-a-God-thing kind of way.

In fact, just to list a few of the things still in the works:

What’s up now is actually only a beta version. I figured if the rest of the world (ahem, Google and Yahoo!) can launch beta websites then so can we. Besides, when is a website ever actually done anyway?

So, without further ado, I give you: Generation Church version 4b. (Originally launched Christmas day.)

Part 2 of this series will cover the design style and elements. Stay tuned.