This project has the distinguishing characteristic of being a revamp of an existing site, also designed and built by me for Financial Education Professionals in October 2003.
My client is a provider of training services to financial insititutions, helping them to meet their obligations under Australian company law.
This is a highly competitive market and the original website was built to be an active marketing tool, helping to promote FEP’s services to prospective clients in Australia and South East Asia.
I approached the revamp with a couple of things weighing on my mind.
First, what if I mucked it up?
As it stood, the site worked. It had good content, was well-optimised for targeted search traffic and delivered business to the client. How could I be sure that I would improve it?
It seemed to me the way to address this was to focus on making it valid, semantic, accessible and tables-free (except for tabular data, bound to come up in a site focusing on matters financial).
Throw in some updated design elements (provided by the client’s graphic designer) and some new SEO research, and it should be even better than before.
That raised the second issue. How to convert all those nested tables to a clean, lean, CSS-driven, standards-compliant model without having to hand code everything?
On that front, I didn’t really find an answer. I managed to get a fair bit done with mutli-file global search and replace functions, but I still had to check everything by hand and refine it. I tend to hand code most of my sites, though, so I’m pretty comfortable with that.
Fortunately, the whole site was only about 30 HTML files so it wasn’t too time-consuming. It did make me want to learn more about building database driven sites, though (yes, I bought a few books).
And the end result has been worth it, I think.
I’ll still be tweaking the SEO aspects over the coming weeks, but I’m confident the site will retain its good SERP and PR.
And, having separated content from structure like a good little standards-conscious designer, it should be much easier to revamp next time.