All hands on deck!
It was a long time coming. A project that has been “in the works” since my start at Caddis some seven months ago. As most of you know, we build a lot of websites and continue to manage them throughout the course of their life. That is, all except for our own. Until now, anyway.
The ring of my five o’clock alarm didn’t seem quite so bad as I’d already been lying awake for 30 minutes. I felt the giddy energy of a kid about to go mow his first lawn, for money. Also I was taking precautions as the spring-like weather had moved out of town in favor of a torrential downpour and 40 mph wind gusts. If you’ve ever braved the morning rush hour traffic around Nashville, it isn’t pretty what with everyone’s incessant need to check emails, update Facebook or apply makeup in order to well, look pretty.
There’s something truly awesome about an internal project that causes every department to work together. Sure, a lot of us hang together outside of work, but within the walls of Caddis, the nature of each team’s work usually keeps them in silos so-to-speak. Developers work with developers, designers with designers (mostly), and so on. The fundamental message of the day was to work together and “get ‘er done.”
Here’s a breakdown:
We came in two waves. Not intentionally. It just worked out that way. The first wave gathered around the upstairs conference table to lay out a strategy for the day - who would be doing what. Michael Leigeber, Co-Founder and Technical Director, walked us through Craft, the CMS we chose to build the site on.
The second wave arrived; with bagels and coffee. We again went over the essentials while eating sweet, delicious bagels and chugging hot coffee (imagine Bill Murray in Groundhog Day). It was the proverbial calm before the storm.
And so it began. Most of the development team worked around the conference table writing and reviewing code to make the site operational. Others worked on the Lunch & Learn microsite, ran ethernet cables or tested the functionality of both the Caddis site and microsite.
I remember specifically watching the clock hang at one minute ‘til eight. Content waited on Craft access information so we could begin the Great Migration of all blogs and employee profiles.
Access granted. Began the migration, which consisted with a whole lot of Command C (Copy) and Command V (Paste). At the same time, developers running ethernet cables were drilling holes in the ceiling of the Men’s Restroom. And I really had to go.
Another cup of coffee a few minutes earlier was a bad idea. Still running cables in the restroom.
The designers began their biggest task of the day - building case studies and shooting photographs around the office; the latter of which to capture the office lifestyle in order to further promote our culture as a company. They had designed the layout over the course of the last several months, and now it was much like putting together pieces of the puzzle.
Content had been working with the account managers all morning as they proofed all of the copy we migrated over to the new site. Their work was cut out for them.
On we went for several hours. Each of us diving into assigned tasks.
Jimmy John’s subs arrived. We took a short break and watched a few minutes of an old X-Files episode. It was awful (my opinion, of course).
Back to work. With most of the content on the new site, a few of us began discarding old blog photographs and finding new ones. Craft would require large, 2,000 pixel images for “Heroes” that will seduce a user’s eyes on a Retina display. This took some time.
Around 3:00 p.m.
Content was fortunately granted extra help by a developer who also happens to be an outstanding designer, Andrew Wierzba. The migration of imagery/artwork was taking some time, especially since again, we had to replace the old with the new and a different naming format was required. This would ultimately go on through Friday.
A few of us attempted a walk though it started spitting freezing rain the minute we stepped outside. Go figure. Nonetheless, a quick stroll around the office building helped.
The website really began taking shape. What the designers had been working on, implementing company photos (portraits and heroes), building out the case studies, just really fleshing out the site in general, gave us a flash of light at the end of the tunnel.
The developers continued writing and reviewing code and testing the site. Content continued with the Great Migration with the help of Andrew and our strategist, April Petry.
Nothing much changed, at least on my end, for several hours. Mental fatigue had me thinking about my drive home.
Designer/photographer, Tyler Sharpe, set up the downstairs conference room for a photo shoot to replace some of the hero images throughout the site.
Most of the remaining lot headed home. Some stayed. Yes, this day was important.
At the end of that day, the site was almost done. It was undoubtedly a large undertaking to be completed within 14 hours or so, but we knew small glitches would exist here and there. We would find those quickly over the next two days, and by Friday afternoon, the Caddis website was launched into the digital atmosphere.
It was quite an experience as we once again gathered around the upstairs conference table to drink beer, go through the site and drink beer. The enthusiasm throughout the course of that entire week was amazing. It says something about a group of people who are willing to dive headlong into a LOT of extra work without so much as the blink of an eye. We’re Caddis.