After four months of planning, designing, coding, and testing, the new Practical Software Solutions website is now live. We’ve worked hard on making sure our visitors will have a much better experience no matter what device you’re using.
A lot has changed over the past six years since our last website redesign, and most of it has to do with the way people use the internet. According to a TechCrunch article, this past summer marked the first time that more Google searches were done on mobile devices instead of desktop computers. This means if your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re doing a disservice to your visitors.
Also, statistics show business people are starting to gravitate towards watching videos in big numbers — especially upper management. Check out these three stats from HighQ, which were shared in a blog post on HubSpot:
- More than 80 percent of senior executives watch more online video today than the did a year ago. (Source: Forbes.com)
- Seventy-five percent of business executives watch work-related videos at least weekly. (Source: Forbes.com)
- Fifty-nine percent of senior executives agree that if both text and video are available on the same topic on the same page, they prefer to watch the video. (Source: Forbes.com)
Those are some huge numbers, and they make sense. I think the word “watch” can be a loose term in this sense. There are many times that I “watch” a video or a webinar but treat it like a podcast. I can listen to the presenter while I’m working on something else, but if something catches my interest I can stop for a few moments to look at the video. If I have to read an article, my work comes crashing to a halt.
About the new Practical website
Aside from the overall design, we decided that this was a great opportunity to look at our whole website and see what could be added, what could be combined, and what could be left out.
Because our old site was designed in a completely different world that relied more on text, we found there was quite a bit we could condense to make for a better user experience. In places where there are longer areas of text or long lists, we’ve got those set inside drop-down boxes or on different tabs.
We were also able to modernize many of the tools on our website. All of the videos on the site can now be viewed on the same page you’re on instead of forwarding to a new page. Our contact forms have all been updated. And, as I said a couple of weeks ago, we updated The Practical Blog to go along with the new website.
We also realized that there were quite a few things we wanted to add to our website: An expanded Customer Portal, more pages for Sage add-ons (like the Sage Construction Project Center), and better search functionality. Some things we already added. Some things, like the search function, had to wait until after we go live because they had to be on a live site to implement. Everything else that wasn’t necessary or couldn’t be completed in time for the launch was pushed to Phase 2.
Many hands helped with the new Practical website
There are so many people I want to thank for their help with our new website.
First, I would like to thank the folks at Semicolon Themes for providing their Canvas Theme through the Envato Market. They were incredibly helpful any time we had questions and produced a great-looking website template. And I would be remiss if I didn’t thank our friends at Boingo Graphics, who designed our last website. The site they built was amazing for 2010 — so much so that we still used it as a guide to lay out our new site.
Next, I’d like to thank our customers who contributed photos for the home page: Rhiannon Thompson from Davidson Excavating and Richard Oliver from Industries of the Blind in Greensboro, N.C. I called Richard at the last minute (read: yesterday), and he came through with some awesome pictures. Rhiannon went out to one of their construction sites last week to take some high-res photos to make sure we had a great shot to start with.
I’d also like to thank Metrolina Greenhouses who have allowed me to come to their amazing location in Huntersville, N.C., to shoot photos whenever I’ve asked. We’re entering our 10th year (!!) partnering with Metrolina, and I was glad I could use one of the pictures I took of an employee using Scan by Cart.
I’d also like to thank Jann Guthridge from Triangle Suspension Systems, who also wanted to contribute a picture, but they’ve been so busy, she didn’t have time to send me a picture. We’re saving the next spot when we rotate pictures for Triangle.
A huge thanks to Joey Seymour, Shari Lawrence, and the design team from the Sage North America marketing department. They went out of their way to create the web banners you see at the bottom of the home page. They were also there for me when I needed answers about Sage copyrights and permissions.
Next, I want to thank John Garren from DemandLink, Sean Bernat and Rulon Allred from PlanSwift, and Allison Okon from Core Associates (publishers of TimberScan) for helping us with their pages on our website. Whether it was securing access to their partner portals or helping us build a brand new pages, we really appreciate their help.
Now onto the folks here at Practical Software Solutions: First, I want to thank Bobby Fowler, our president, for editing the text on all of the new pages. He chuckles at the fact that he’s editing my work because he says I’m better at English than he is. But I’m dyslexic, so oftentimes I make mistakes without realizing it, and Bobby’s always there to catch them for me. I also want to thank our CEO, Vince Stamey, for green-lighting this project.
Next, I want to thank Matt Holland, our Director of Customized Solutions, who took time out of his extremely busy schedule to go over some of the updated pages on the website. He also came up with the idea for a new Customer Portal, which will be coming soon. I’d also like to thank Greg Lafferty and Tim Lambert from our sales department, and David Sugg, our director of ERP services, for helping us update some of our older pages and breathe new life into them.
And last — and most importantly — I’d like to thank Christopher Lau, who was my partner in this website redesign. Chris is a full-time student at the UNC Charlotte, and works part-time at Practical. Chris picked out the theme, designed the website’s skeleton, did some advanced coding, recreated a bunch of pages, designed spreadsheets to track our progress, and painstakingly moved everything to the new site.
We would like to invite you to visit our new website and tell us what you think! You can drop me an e-mail, or leave a comment below.
Congratulations! If you’ve made it this far down the blog post, I have a special treat for you! My friends at the Sage Events Team have allowed me to share a secret with you. If you head over to the Sage Summit 2016 website before March 7, you can still register for $99! This is for anyone who wants to register for $99 — not just Sage Summit 2015 alumni! Trust me, you don’t want to miss out on this rate. So what are you waiting for? Go now! You can even go before you see our new site!