A website relaunch as a learning opportunity

minute read

When we recently decided to relaunch our website we quickly realised that this would provide the perfect opportunity for staff to not only learn CMS skills but also gain experience in agile project management. 

Working on Webflow (the CMS our site runs on) allowed our colleagues to flex their website development muscles as this product requires slightly more technical prowess than some of the other CMS options on the market. At the same time, staff were able to acquaint themselves with project management tool Jira and our agile working process. 

Designing, building and relaunching our website using exclusively internal expertise was a great experience for us - and could be for other companies as well. 

Here are our key learnings and takeaways as identified by our team members.

Duplicating an existing site saves time - but also copies technical debt

As we lacked prior experience with Webflow, we decided to save time by inheriting the existing website’s structure and by retooling functionally identical components to fit our current design system. Unsurprisingly, this proved to be a double-edged sword. Says Roland Letea, lead developer in the early stages of the website build, "[duplicating the existing site] also meant taking a bit of a detour doing things like cleaning up legacy code, removing obsolete components and understanding how styling was influencing the new build. Were I to retry now, I'd probably start with a blank project and copy only what I need from the existing site, but it was the right call to make at the time".

Webflow allows for amazing customisation - but requires more know-how

Many CMS products target users with minimal technical experience in part by relying heavily on components and widgets which require little to no coding. This is part of a wider low-code/no-code trend, which has gained traction at a time when companies are shifting their focus on nurturing internal technical capabilities. Scrum Master Ionuț Dascăl helped deliver the site across the finish line and says, “Webflow works as a good refresher for any frontend developer while being user friendly enough to allow others to chip in at any given moment. The CMS features are a huge plus and allowed our designer and marketing team members to easily contribute”. Web Developer Nicolae Enciu agrees: "I really appreciate the fact that [Webflow] comes with version control and separate views for editors and designers - that made it so much easier to work simultaneously."

Using staff imagery is great - but will always ruffle some feathers

As a B2B services company it was important for us to showcase our people, so we chose to feature real-life employees throughout our site. Luckily, we had a collection of recent, high-quality images at our disposal. But never underestimate people’s visceral reaction to seeing themselves or colleagues on a website - while some may welcome the opportunity or be agnostic to it, others will feel uncomfortable and want their image removed. All of these responses are equally valid, and had to be acknowledged. We managed this process by first soft launching our site to give colleagues the chance to review it and provide us with feedback. This also helped us identify gaps in our image collection, which we could then address in subsequent photo shoots. 

Agile is the only way to build a best-in-class website

Building the site in sprints allowed us to explore various iterations of design and structure, optimising the frontend as we went. And because we wanted staff to feel ownership of the site, we involved different teams throughout the project. The added benefit of this was that it helped fit this project around client work, with benched developers picking up where the previous sprint team had left off. Scrum Master Ovidiu Moldovan says, “This was an ideal learning opportunity for new team members, both from a technical and working process point of view. We treated this internal project as we would any client project, which gave the team the opportunity to gain first-hand experience with agile working methods and an understanding of Scrum. It also boosted their confidence in interacting with the product owner and other stakeholders. I really enjoyed the experience!”

Did this decision mean the launch took longer than expected? Yes. As all internal projects are liable to be sidelined by billable work, the website redesign and -launch also took longer than initially planned. But getting our own staff to work on it also meant new joiners were able to test their knowledge and learn new tech in a safe environment. 

We’re proud of our new website, all the more so because it was a true team effort.

Have a project in mind? Let's talk.

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