We launch

We just launched our latest website, and we’re rather proud of it.  Check it out at http://www.conservationsymposium.com

Constellation Media hadn’t been in business for long when our first client was introduced to us by word of mouth.  They are a government organization working in the conservation and tourism business who run an annual symposium on nature conservation.  They wanted to migrate the symposium’s website to a new platform, and give it an updated look.  They didn’t give any reason for leaving their previous host, and we didn’t ask.  Their only specification was that we deliver a completed product fast – we had seven days to issue a quote, provision a server, design the website and migrate the content (excluding historical data).

I’m rather proud to say that we made it, and that we did a good enough job that were immediately recommended to a partner organisation for a rather bigger job.   Now technically, the job was only completed a few weeks after that initial deadline, but this was expected by the client since much of the content didn’t exist in time for us to upload it.  There was also no time allowed for a proper design process, so much of the over-run involved minor tweaks to layout — a feature would be implemented, we would use our own judgement as to how it should look, and then we’d move on to the next task while we waited to see if they would approve it or request changes.

But as disorganised as this might seem, we worked closely with the client, uploading content as it was produced and implementing features as they were requested.  While some compromises had to be made, they were happy with the result and we agree with them.

So what did we give them, in the end?

We put together a simple wordpress site, based on the Aspen theme.  Aspen is not a particularly attractive theme out of the box, but it is hugely customizable through a control panel, allowing us to modify it heavily without having to touch a line of CSS or PHP.  In the time available, we weren’t able to modify it to the extent that they wanted, but we were able to meet the spirit of their requests, and they were satisfied with that aspect of the design in less than a week.

As for the server, it’s an EC2 instance provided by AWS.  If you’re not up to speed with the lingo of the hosting business, it’s a fully scalable server based in The Cloud, making for a very flexible server that can be grown or shrunk as demand changes.  We can easily grab a snapshot of the host, and create a duplicate copy in case we need to test structural changes.  If there is a surge in traffic, we can easily spin up another copy of the host, or two copies, or twenty copies, and park them all behind a load balancer until we’re once again coping with demand.  And since we buy capacity by the hour, the cost is low.  We can scale up to meet a spike in demand, and then scale down again when demand falls, all without interrupting the service and we can absorb the expense without bothering the client.

In fact, they have no idea that we have the ability to do this for them.  And if they ever have a sudden spike in traffic that threatens to bring an individual server offline, and if we handle it properly, they’ll never know that it was needed.  Which, in my opinion, is how it should be.  They pay for a service, we deliver it.  No matter what.