iSquared Communications, Inc.


iSquared Launches Website v5.0

2009.2.9   |   by Robert Simmons

website screenshotThere is an old saying... the cobbler’s children have no shoes. That has certainly been the case with our company’s website. With the majority of our focus on clients, there has been little time to upgrade and manage our own domain. After a decade of tooling and re-tooling, we’ve decided it’s time to post a polished, well-designed site online. If we’re marketing ourselves as a full services advertising and PR agency, our web presence should represent this. has been through several phases of development over the last 10 years. When I was hired to work in the art department in November of ’99, a new site design was in the planning stages and the person responsible for its launch had recently left the company. I took on the challenge although I had no formal training as a web designer and my knowledge was restricted to the “happy meal” programs of desktop publishing. The result was better than what was originally proposed but was still far from the level it needed to be. This was largely due to the fact that I was far from the level I needed to be at as a web designer.

My second crack at the site’s design wasn’t a huge improvement. It was closer to a facelift... a theme change more than a redesign. The color scheme of the initial site was replaced with brushed metal faceplates and indigo blue icons. It was meant to project a more modern image for the company and for the time, I supposed it did. Still there were features that it lacked and much more work to be done.

The website went through a purely research/development phase when I discovered Macromedia’s Flash in 2002. Since the program was fairly complex, I spent most of my time on the learning curve, trying this technique and that effect, feeling out what worked well and what was beyond my abilities. To have technology in my hands that added rich new dimensions to my site designs was thrilling. Most of the designs created during this period never saw the light of day. I had seen sites that were completely Flash-based and were done well, some of them pretty amazing, and at the time I found pure HTML to be very limiting. So I set out to design our company website entirely with Flash. It went online and immediately it’s flaws were clear. My knowledge of modular loading was weak and the site performed poorly on low bandwidths. I also discovered that it was difficult for search engines to crawl the site because spiders were programmed to scan HTML. In short, looked better than ever but its short-comings far out-weighed its advantages.

During the next couple of years I immersed myself in learning the following technologies that were accelerating the internet’s evolution:

Cascading Style Sheets made my life a whole lot easier. This markup language allowed me to make adjustments to page layouts, type and themes throughout an entire website by editing one .css file. It also gave me, and every other website designer in the world, more control over the way websites were displayed on different browsers and platforms.

XML, a general-purpose specification for creating custom markup languages, provided an easy way for data to plug into a site where it was needed without having to make edits to the web pages themselves.

JavaScript, a scripting language widely used for client-side web development, became my digital multi-tool which I used to process online forms, generate rollover effects and create snazzy drop-down menus.

Server Side Includes made website revisions easier than ever. By inserting a small section of code into each page, changes to common content would propagate throughout the website by editing one file.

PHP, a scripting language that I’m still in the process of learning, takes code as its input and creates web pages as output. It can be deployed on most web servers and on almost every operating system and platform free of charge.

I relied on my growing library of references, guides and tutorials to help me sharpen my skills and deliver custom solutions to clients. It was during this time that I realized there is no such thing as a “webmaster”... one could never master the vast, complex, ever-evolving weave of technology, both physical and virtual, that is the World Wide Web.

At the beginning of this year v5.0 of the iSquared Communications website went online. Our virtual account manager is still being developed and my goal is to have this completed by the end of spring. I’ve always believed that having access to project information and files in real time would be a valuable service for our clients. It’s a feature I wanted to include in our website 10 years ago, but did not have the skills to do so until now.

If you get anything from this humble recount of one company’s internet development, I hope it’s this... there has never been a better time to hire our company. What we’ve learned through a decade of trial and error is immediately passed on to those who employ us. Our experience and knowledge is our greatest asset.

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